The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, has commended the success and leadership of Bangladesh in successfully reducing the human and financial impact of natural disasters and for establishing the country as a world reference in disaster resilience.
Since the catastrophic Bhola Cyclone of 1970, a disaster that claimed an estimated 500,000 lives, the joint Government of Bangladesh/Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Cyclone Preparedness Programme has prevented tens of thousands of deaths and enabled communities to withstand shocks and respond effectively to extreme meteorological events.
Speaking at the end of an official visit to Dhaka, Mr Sy said: “Bangladesh has demonstrated that hazards do not need to become disasters. It has shown that with strong vision, leadership and
trust, we can create a ‘community of carers’ with a strong focus on preparedness and resilience building, and with the capacity to learn from the communities. This is the kind of approach that should be adopted around the world. It saves money, and more importantly, it saves lives and protects human dignity.”
Mr Sy visited Bangladesh at the invitation of Hafiz Ahmed Mazumdar, Chairman of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. The Red Crescent is a key partner in the country’s efforts to strengthen disaster resilience and access to health, with an estimated 55,000 Red Crescent volunteers involved in early warning, training, evacuation and response. The organization also runs a country-wide network of health facilities, including 56 mother and child health centres
During his visit Mr. Sy met with senior leadership of the country, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament, Mohammed Nasim, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, and Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister.
He also joined the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society leadership in announcing the One Billion Coalition for Resilience, a global initiative convened by the IFRC which aims to build partnerships between the private and public sector and civil society towards creating stronger, safer and more resilient communities.
“The world has so much to learn from Bangladesh. With the continued active support from the government, this coalition for community resilience can build on a wealth of knowledge and good practices as well as on the access and respect enjoyed by thousands of Red Crescent volunteers” said Mr Sy.
Globally, the goal of the One Billion Coalition for Resilience is that by 2025 at least one billion people around the world will have taken active steps to become safer, healthier, and more prosperous.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 190 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions.