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Better forecasting for better DRM in Bangladesh 

Recognising the need to improve weather forecasting in Cox’s Bazar, a fishing port and centre for tourism in the southeast of Bangladesh, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) and regional integrated multi-hazard early warning system (RIMES) in a new initiative.

cox beach resized

The Cox's Bazar district in the Chittagong Division of southeast Bangladesh boasts the world's longest natural sea beach at 75 miles long which makes it a popular tourist destination. The region is, however, susceptible to extreme weather events such as cyclones, landslides and flash floods. Image: Nicolas De Corte|123rf

As part of the initiative, the UNDP organised an inception workshop on December 30, 2019 to develop a weather forecasting application for disaster risk management (DRM). Rainhanul Haque Khan, Country Programme Lead of RIMES, said: “This inception workshop provided an opportunity for all potential partners and participants to establish a common understanding on the weather forecasts project activities to be undertaken.” He hopes that the workshop will help to formulate recommendations to improve the project.

According to Mir Ali Asgar, programme coordinator of UNDP Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar Sub-Office, the collaboration will contribute to improve the early warning system in the district which will ultimately help to improve its DRM system. He also noted: “The early warning system should be both ‘end-to-end’ and ‘people-centred’ - that can significantly reduce the disaster risks available in the context of Cox’s Bazar.” 

Yoganath Adikari, International Disaster Risk Specialist of UNDP Bangladesh, highlighted that: “There are limited, publicly available, short-range forecast products in upazila level for the Cox’s Bazar district. This partnership will help stakeholders to access localised forecast information and products to better serve vulnerable communities.” BMD Director, Samsuddin Ahmed, added: “The major priority of the BMD is strengthening the localised short-range forecasting systems as well as to ensure proper dissemination of the existing early warning and forecasting information to the community level so that the people can act timely to save lives and to reduce property damage in the extreme weathers and hazardous events.”

Collaboration with international communities and technical stakeholders is crucial for the BMD to implement innovative ideas to improve early warning and forecasting systems, according to Dr Md. Mahamud-Ul-Hoque from the Ministry of Defence.

The local communities are exposed to multiple natural hazards and they experience recurring extreme weather events including cyclones, torrential rains, landslides, flash floods, storm surges, and extreme temperatures owing to the location, climate and topography of Cox’s Bazar. 

In addition, the influx of the Rohingya refugees since 2017 has increased the size of the population at risk of disaster and extreme weather impacts, as well as adding pressures on the environment which undermine resilience. 

Therefore, to take early action and effectively respond to these extreme weathers and hazardous events, it is key that the government and other stakeholders have access to improved forecasting information and seasonal forecasts products to support planning and decision-making related to DRM. While the BMD has a series of forecast products, the warning information is not readily available at high resolution, and not always updated on the online platform. In light of this, the UNDP will support the BMD to issue localised short-range weather forecasts and seasonal forecasts for the district through its ‘Disaster Risk Management in Cox’s Bazar’ programme.

Thumbnail: Oleksii Nikolaiev|123rf 

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