DHAKA, December 19, 2015: The Government of Bangladesh, together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank, today launched two projects to increase resilience to natural and man-made disasters in Dhaka, Sylhet, and Chittagong. The projects – the JICA supported $116 million Urban Building Safety Project (UBSP) and the World Bank supported $179.5 million Urban Resilience Project (URP) – will jointly strengthen emergency response capacity, reinforce existing infrastructure and reduce the vulnerability of future building construction to disaster events.
“Rapid and often unplanned urbanization in a context of high population density make the major cities in Bangladesh vulnerable to disasters,” said Martin Rama, Acting Country Director, World Bank Bangladesh. “These two projects represent a collaborative effort to adopt a programmatic, multi-sectoral approach to building resilience to disasters in urban growth centers in Bangladesh.”
The URP will take a comprehensive approach to streamline and decentralize emergency response in Dhaka and Sylhet, including the establishment of fully trained and equipped Emergency Operations Centers and Emergency Management Warehouses. The URP will help better understand disaster risk for critical infrastructure and facilities such as water lines and gas pipelines and will support improvements to urban planning, development and construction.
The UBSP aims to strengthen the safety of private and public buildings in Greater Dhaka and Chittagong. The project will provide low-interest financing through participating financial institutions to improve earthquake resilience in private buildings. The project will also construct a Fire Service and Civil Defense Headquarters and refurbish fire stations to save lives during earthquakes and other disasters.
“Many structures in Dhaka and Chittagong do not comply with Bangladesh National Building Code and are vulnerable to disasters such as earthquake,” said Mikio Hataeda, Chief Representative, JICA Bangladesh. “The UBSP will improve building safety, thus reducing the social vulnerability of cities in Bangladesh.”
The two projects are intertwined. The UBSP will renovate fires stations, which will be equipped with search and rescue and emergency management equipment under URP. The UBSP will also facilitate the renovation of private garment factories and schools, while URP further identifies vulnerabilities in critical and lifeline infrastructure to prioritize renovation and retrofitting works going forward. Lastly, URP will incorporate the training and technical manuals produced by UBSP for Public Works Department into the capacity building programs of RAJUK and the City Corporations.
“Bangladesh needs to enhance resilience to earthquakes and other disasters in the major cities to protect lives and accelerate development gains,” said AHM Mustafa Kamal, Honorable Minister of Planning, Government of Bangladesh. “The two projects launched today underscore a long term partnership among JICA, the World Bank and the government to improve disaster preparedness in Bangladesh.”