Dhaka 25th August 2014: Today in a press conference held at the National Press Club, Dhaka nineteen coastal and right based organizations urged government and non government organizations (NGO) to consider short and long term relief and rehabilitation measures for around 10 millions coastal poor who have been affected by recent unusual tidal flood. They also urged scraping the monopoly of Water Development Board (WDB) over embankment construction and maintenance. They also said WDB must be decentralized and locally accountable to the people as well as the embankment construction and maintenance should be public participatory entrepreneurship consisting govt., non govt., academic and professional associations.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Trust moderated the press conference while Syed Aminul Haque of the same organization presented the keynote paper. Other speakers were Nayeem Gowhar Wara of Disaster Forum, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of COAST. The organizers of the press conference are Uddipan, Unnayan Dhara Trust, FDA, Jono Unnayan Sangsta, Dak Diye Jai, DOCAP, Dwip Unnayan Sangsta, Nowbeki Gonomukhi Foundation, PRAN, Prantojon, Podokkhep, Songram, Sagorika, SUS, CDP, Somaj, SAP Bangladesh and Humanity Watch.
Sayed Aminul Haque of COAST Trust while reading out the group’s written statement elaborated the details of recent tidal flood impact in low lying coastal areas and islands. On behalf of the group he urged the steps to be urgently taken are: (i) to provide shelters to the homeless families, (ii) food supply until next March as they have lost the Aman crops, (iii) especial assistance to initiate upcoming robi crops and (iv) doubling the different Safety Net programs for the affected and marginalized especially for the fishermen families, women and child headed households.
The group also urged for the reform of WDB who is responsible for embankment and nowadays widely considered as the most corrupted government body. They have also pointed out some steps to be taken in this regard are: (i) WDB should be accountable to the Upazila Parishad and Deuputy Commissioner, (ii) inclusion of local government and poor people’s groups, as of NGO’s, in the construction work instead of doing it in traditional method by the contractors; (iii) engaging Army in critical places, as they were engaged in constructing the Marine Drive to protect Cox’s Bazar; and (iv) considering concrete block and sea-dike building as permanent protection of the coastal land.
Aminul Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara said that, if no permanent measures are taken to protect the coastal land and small businesses, the climate-induced migration towards the cities will be increased which will be more problematic. He urged the Member of Parliament and Upazila Chairman to be more active to pursue government in this regard.
Nayeem Gowhar Wara of Disaster Forum urged local administration to take precautionary measures for another possible tidal flood during September 8 to 9. He said, West Bengal govt already announce such measures.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST mentioned that monopoly of WDB should be scraped and academic and research institutions should be engaged in embankment construction. NGO led poor people’s group, Labor contracting societies should be engaged in this embankment construction and maintenance even if needed with voluntary labor that coastal people ready to provide, he added. He said, Embankment construction and maintains should be a public participatory entrepreneurship.