Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the international community for inclusion of the persons with disabilities in the development and disaster risk management process.
"Bangladesh has done this..., and we hope that other countries would follow us," she said, highlighting the disaster management plans taken by her government over the years.
The prime minister was inaugurating the 2nd International Conference on Disability and Disaster Risk Management at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) here today.
"Now Bangladesh has acquired the capacity to cope with any sort of disaster and that's why the country became known as the role model of disaster management," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the conference and recent move of the global community for inclusion of differently able persons in disaster management is very crucial.
Bangladesh is taking lead with the international community to facilitate this important agenda at international, regional, national and local level, she said.
The conference has been designed with the key objectives of sharing knowledge and experience as well as identifying future actions for inclusive implementation of the disability and disaster risk management plans, she added.
Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mofazzal Hosssain Chowdhury Maya presided over the function while secretary of the ministry Shah Kamal gave welcome address.
Monthian Buntan, member of Royal Thai parliament and member of the UN international committee on rights of the persons with disabilities delivered keynote speech.
Kajol Rekha, a disaster victim and president of self-help group of persons with disabilities and member of disaster management committee of Sreepur under Sundargonj upazila in Gaibandha district also spoke on the occasion.
UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo read out the special appreciation from Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction UNISDR. A video presentation was screened on disaster management in Bangladesh.
Ms Saima Wazed Hossain, International Focal Point, Advisory Group on DIDRM, Bangladesh and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in South-East Asia Region, representatives of more than 100 members from about 33 countries, representatives of internationals development agencies and senior government officials joined the conference.
Sheikh Hasina said every year Bangladesh is facing multifaceted natural disasters which claimed thousands of lives, damaging huge assets and livelihoods. But now the country has the capacity to manage any disaster, she said.
The premier said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had initiated the Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) in Bangladesh in 1972, the first community based disaster preparedness programs in the world.
It is now recognized as a flagship program in the field of disaster risk management in Bangladesh, she said, adding that now we are replicating the CPP model for other disasters.
"This paradigm shift had helped us to adapt with the changes of global policy instruments such as Sendai Framework, Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015," she said.
Expressing her government's firm determination to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, she said the government is implementing various development programs, giving importance to disaster management plan in this regard.
The prime minister said the 7th Five Year Plan has been made giving due focus on integration of risk-informed development approach and coordination among the ministries to address disaster vulnerability.
Establishment of a National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) to cope with the extreme disasters is on the card while 4,088 storm shelters and 255 flood shelters have already been constructed in last nine years all over the country to reduce disaster risk, she added.
Construction of 423 flood shelters and 66 relief godowns is underway and quick shifting of women, children, disable persons, old people and pregnant women to shelter centers during disasters has been ensured, she said.
Pointing out government's recent program to distribute food grade plastics containers among five lacs households, the prime minister said these containers would help preserve 56 kg rice or 40 kg paddy during disaster.
Sheikh Hasina said in order to render weather forecast and early warning massages, cell phone number 1090 as toll free IVR system has been introduced.
The government has enacted the "Rights and Protection of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2013" and Neuro-Developmental Disabled Protection Trust Act, 2013 to ensure the rights of differently able persons, she said.
Bangladesh along with some other countries are actively and successfully advocating in the global platforms to include the issues of disability in the disaster risk management and response mechanisms, she continued.
The premier hoped that the outcome of the conference would give guidelines to all member countries to implement the concrete actions for improving the lives and livelihoods, including strengthening resilience capability of persons with disabilities.
She thanked Saima Wazed Hossain, International Focal Point, Advisory Group on DIDRM, Bangladesh and WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in South-East Asia Region, for successfully bringing the disability and inclusive disaster risk management issues to national and international arena and sought her more active role in the area in future.
The prime minister hoped that the conference would be a successful event that will lead the persons with disabilities in all countries to a better life.