Speakers in a webinar titled “Disaster Imagination for safer Dhaka City” organised by RTI International under the World Bank funded Urban Resilience Project rightly underscored the need for adopting urban resilient approach, coordination among professionals and creating awareness among communities as Dhaka city is highly vulnerable to earthquake.
The number of earthquakes has been increasing significantly over the last 20 years. Reportedly, from 1997 to 2018, more than 13 earthquakes above a magnitude of 4.5 have been felt in Bangladesh.
Some of these had an epicentre within Bangladesh. Experts apprehend that a powerful earthquake could claim several thousands of lives and cause huge economic losses through damaging key infrastructures.
Bangladesh is known for rural hazards especially flood, but these days urban hazards have become more frequent and harsher. Living in this overcrowded jungle of concrete, it is horrifying to imagine how would this town survive if an intense earthquake takes place?
Because of rapid and poorly planned urbanisation, Dhaka is becoming more and more vulnerable to both natural and man-made hazards. Factors such as poor living standards, construction of infrastructures without consideration of safety measures, lack of public awareness of hazards, and poorly enforced building code are worsening the situation further.
Proper implementation of land use plan and enforcement
of building code are important to make an urban area
more resilient to earthquake.
Considering all these, strengthening urban governance has become very necessary on the part of the government and city planners.
There are numerous facets of current urban planning and development that pose serious threats to the life and wealth of city dwellers. For example, the lack of enforcement of building code, planning permission and regulatory investment, often linked to corruption, allow the transfer of risk from construction companies to those who live and work in the buildings.
Experts from related arena and different stakeholders who are properly trained should work together under one umbrella to ensure construction of resilient infrastructure.
For making the cities safer and reducing urban disaster risks, there is no alternative to building capacity of local government for ensuring effective services in emergency situations.
Proper implementation of land use plan and enforcement of building code are also important to make an urban area more resilient to disasters like earthquake. Also multi-hazard approaches need to be implemented with a view to reducing risks that will make Dhaka safer in the long-run.