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Chief Representative's Speech

August 31, 2014

Foundation Ceremony of the Department of Disaster Science and Management the University of Dhaka

Honorable Chief Guest, Mr. A.H.M. Mustafa Kamal, Member of Parliament and Minister for Planning,

Prof. Dr. M.S. Akbar, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society,

Prof. Dr. A.A.M.S. Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor, the University of Dhaka,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

Assalam alaikum.

First, please accept my sincere congratulations on the foundation of the Department of Disaster Science and Management in this great university.

Disaster management is indeed becoming an issue of growing concern worldwide. In a year, natural disasters take 100,000 lives, evacuate 25 million people and distress 200 million people with economic losses of billions of dollars.

For the last few months alone, we have witnessed floods, landslides, earthquake and typhoons causing lots of human sufferings in Bangladesh, China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.

According to the World Risk Report 2013, Bangladesh stands fifth among vulnerable countries to natural disasters and most vulnerable to climate change. Bangladesh has been always fighting against natural disasters since its independence, bearing numerous death tolls and economic loss of US$500 million almost every year.

The Government of Bangladesh has gained remarkable capacity not only for Disaster Response but also Disaster Risk Reduction. In fact, the death toll from cyclone has been dramatically reduced from ghastly 500,000 in 1970 to 138,000 in 1991, 4,200 by Cyclone "Sidr" in 2007 and 17 by Cyclone "Mahasen" in 2013.

I am proud to say that JICA played a part in such a phenomenal achievement of the Government of Bangladesh. Our support comprises of more than seventy projects amounting to US$650 million in total, encompassing cyclone countermeasures, flood mitigation and earthquake risk reduction.

For example, since 1988 we have been supporting Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) to establish five meteorological radar stations which jointly cover the whole country. Making good use of the complete coverage of the meteorological radars, BMD predicted the course of Cyclone "Mahasen" more precisely than any other forecast last year. We also provided grant assistance to build 117 cyclone shelters in the coastal area which function as schools in normal times and as evacuation centers in case of emergency.

As for earthquake risk reduction, JICA started its technical cooperation to the Public Works Department in 2010 to ensure public building safety through development of retrofitting technique, seismic assessment, building inventories and so on. After the Rana Plaza tragedy in April 2013, we expanded the technical cooperation and diverted a part of an ongoing soft-loan assistance to apply the technique of assessment and retrofitting to RMG factories and enhance their structural safety.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We cannot survive without coexisting with nature. Both Bangladesh and Japan are prone to natural disasters. Japan is still striving hard to recover from the damage of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011. We are pleased to share Japan's experience and accumulated knowledge of disaster management and be of any assistance for you to build resilient society.

Bangladesh is expected to put more effort for inter-ministerial or inter-departmental coordination for the pre- and post-Disaster Management which basically narrows down to risk reduction approaches in proper time. Moreover, the coordination between academics and practitioner is crucial to institutionalize the Disaster Management System in all level. I hope the stakeholders will emphasize more on the issue and bring the maximum results of collective effort.

As a part of the University of Dhaka, the newly established department is certainly expected to produce leaders of disaster management for Bangladesh. I would like the students to learn from the distinguished faculty members how theoretical knowledge should be practically applied to save as many people as possible from natural disasters.

Finally, I wish all the success of the department for their long, rewarding endeavor to spearhead the science of disaster management in Bangladesh.

Shobaike Annek Donnobad, Thank you very much.

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