World Bank Supports to Enhance Earthquake Preparedness in Dhaka

March 28, 2013

DHAKA, March 28, 2013: The Earthquake Disaster Risk Index of Stanford University ranks Dhaka among the 20 cities most vulnerable to earthquake in the world. The World Bank is providing technical assistance in grant financing for the ‘Bangladesh Urban Earthquake Resilience Project’ to enhance earthquake preparedness.

The government of Bangladesh and the World Bank are engaged in a multi-year process with national decision makers and technical experts to reduce the risks that earthquakes pose to the country’s long-term development. The Earthquake Risk Management Program is a multi-phased program, to be financed through two sources of funding, a Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Grant from the government of Australia (AusAID) and a Policy and Human Resources Development Fund Grant (PHRD) from the government of Japan, the total amount being $6 million.

Bangladesh is highly exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including floods, cyclones and earthquakes. The country is well known for its proactive policies and programs aimed at addressing the risk of cyclone and monsoon rain. Since the dramatic loss of life and assets during the catastrophic cyclones of 1970 and 1991, the government of Bangladesh, civil society, and international development partners have demonstrated that investment in cyclone preparedness and flood management saves lives, reduces economic losses, and protects development gains. As a result, Bangladesh is often cited in the argument for investment in disaster risk management globally.

Earthquake risk in major urban centers is a major source of concern, as complexity in governance structures can make it difficult to implement appropriate land use planning policies, enforce regulatory regimes, and plan for earthquake readiness. With a population of approximately 15 million, Dhaka has one of the fastest growing urban populations in the world, combined with complex municipal governance arrangements. The general consensus is that Dhaka’s rapid urbanization creates greater vulnerability to seismic events as urban planning and service delivery are not keeping pace with growth.

The underlying premise of the program is that earthquake risk can only be effectively addressed by instilling a culture of prevention in public and private actors. This requires multiple stakeholders to shift their behavior and proactively address seismic risk in order to increase resiliency to earthquake events. The $6 million program is therefore designed to increase collective understanding of risk, identify major disincentives for resilient development, support planning for prevention, and gradually shift toward a more proactive approach to earthquake resilient development.

In a subsequent phase, additional grant funding from the World Bank and other development partners may support the identification and prioritization of a multibillion-dollar investment program to increase the seismic resilience of infrastructure. These investments could be financed over a 10-15 year period, led by the government of Bangladesh and supported by the development partners.

Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Honorable Minister of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh today inaugurated the Bangladesh Urban Earthquake Resilience Project.

Media Contacts
In Dhaka
Mehrin Mahbub
Tel : (880-2) 8159001
In Washington
Gabriela Aguilar
Tel : (202) 473-8955