National Press Club (NPC) President Kamal Uddin Sabuj addressing a discussion on 'Role of Media in Providing Sustainable Livelihood for Coastal People' at the NPC auditorium in the city Monday. FE Photo
Speakers at a programme Monday came down heavily on the recently passed anti-disaster law where indemnity has been given to all actions of the government officers of a particular area at the time of natural disaster.
The law also has provision of punishing common people failing to reach the cyclone shelter centres once evacuation order has been promulgated and any disaster hit people will have to pay Tk 50,000 fine or suffer two years of imprisonment in case of insulting any government official in the cyclone shelters.
The speakers also criticized the idea of present cyclone shelter centres and the way it is constructed, as those are not pro-people and disabled-friendly. They questioned how logical it is to set up cyclone shelter centres at such a huge cost.
They recommended for formulating an inclusive plan for developing sustainable livelihood for the coastal people who are most affected with the climate change and help them construct their houses with the money of cyclone shelter centres. They urged all concerned to pay special attention and care in designing programmes for the disabled people at the coastal areas who are the most vulnerable.
Their observations came at a discussion programme on 'Role of Media in Promoting Sustainable Livelihood for the People in Coastal Areas in Tackling the Effects of Climate Change' at National Press Club in the city.
National Press Club and Action on Disaster and Development (ADD) organized the discussion with support of European Union (EU) and CAFOD with the club president Kamal Uddin Sabuj in the chair. Parvin Sultana Musa Jhuma, member of the management committee of the National Press Club moderated the discussion.
Professor Golam Samdani Fakir, pro vice-chancellor of Brac University was present as the chief guest while Gawher Nayeem Wahra, member secretary of Foundation for Disaster Forum presented the keynote paper.
Data showed, about 40 to 50 million people live in the coastal areas and the country now has 10.6 million disabled people which is 10 per cent of the total population.
Gawher Nayeem said time has come to think whether cyclone shelters are at all needed at this huge investment. He said 30 houses can be built with the money of one shelter centre.
"There is much grammar behind this (cyclone shelter centres) as some people can take photo and use this
. Another risky aspect of these shelter centres is only 2.0 sqft space has been allocated for one person as primarily it was conceived that people will stay there for a short time," said Gawher.
But now people can know about any natural calamities two days earlier.
"How can one person stand in 2.0 sqft space for 40 hours as soon as evacuation order has been placed?" he asked.
He observed where situation of normal people is like this one can easily imagine the condition of a disabled person in a cyclone shelter centre.
"Disabled people are facing uneven competition in their livelihoods and their livelihood opportunities are shrinking gradually," Gawher said.
He also termed the present process of identifying disabled people by the civil surgeons as 'inhuman' and urged to stop it immediately.
Gawher said many organizations use disabled people for their own interest and not for the wellbeing of the persons with disabilities, adding: though the government gives interest free loans to disabled people, many organizations take interest from them on the loans.
Golam Samdani Fakir said policymakers, NGOs and government should be sensitized in making the livelihood issue of the coastal area people a priority.
He stressed on evidence-based information in sensitizing the policymakers, attract the CSR fund of the private sector, inclusive development plan in addressing livelihood problem in coastal areas and community-based approach by involving local well-off people to come forward in solving the livelihood problems of disabled people in coastal areas.
Kamal Uddin Sabuj said the coastal area of the country has increased to a great extent and the livelihoods there are not protected let alone sustainable.
He urged the policymakers to develop need-based programmes by dividing the people in coastal areas into various segments.
Referring to the less casualties now during natural disasters, he said media always played its role regarding the climate change and natural disaster issues and it will do more in the coming days, said Mr Sabuj.
Sabuj said the people in coastal areas should be aware, empowered and media should put pressure along with politicians and policymakers in policy formulation and implementation of the programmes.
He said there should not be any discrimination between the people at coastal areas and those in mainland.