Ausaid Annual Report
2012–13

australian agency for international development
  • Reducing the risk of disaster in Bangladesh

Reducing the risk of disaster in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is no stranger to disaster. Floods, cyclones and man-made catastrophes are all too familiar.

These disasters not only threaten lives, but can wipe out the gains Bangladesh has made towards meeting its development goals.

When the Rana Plaza building collapsed near Dhaka in April 2013, thousands of factory workers were trapped inside. Government and volunteer rescue crews worked for 19 days to free the 2500 survivors and recover the bodies of the 1100 people who died.

Then, in May 2013 when tropical storm Mahasen threatened Bangladesh, the government acted quickly to evacuate one million people from the highest-risk coastal areas and mobilise 1300 medical teams to respond to people's immediate health needs. These actions helped prevent large numbers of fatalities.

Australia's support in Bangladesh has made a difference to the ability of the Bangladesh Government and other partners to respond when disaster strikes. In 2013, Australia contributed more than $2.7 million to help the people of Bangladesh prepare, respond and recover from disasters, including the Rana building collapse and tropical storm Mahasen.

Australia supports disaster preparedness through the Bangladesh Government Comprehensive Disaster Management Project. In response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, 1200 urban volunteers trained under the program were deployed to support rescue operations. Australia also worked with the government and partners to assess people's needs following Mahasen.

Through its strategic partnership arrangement with BRAC (the world's largest non-government organisation), Australia—together with the United Kingdom—supports BRAC's operations to safeguard the interests of the poor and vulnerable in Bangladesh.

Looking to the future, Australia's support for the Bangladesh Government and United Nations Development Programme-managed early recovery facility will help to ensure that after a disaster, infrastructure is rebuilt to a better standard providing more resilience to disasters.

Caption: Community volunteers trained under the Comprehensive Disaster Management Project were among the first on the scene when the building collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh

Credit: Courtesy of the Bangladesh Comprehensive Disaster Management Project