Ict and Disaster Risk Reduction: National and International Perspectives

The assignment encompasses the idea of ICT and its role in national and international perspective. ICT integration in Disaster Risk Reduction is a contemporary idea. Disaster losses can be some-fold reduced if it can integrate technologies with it. ICT can serve in a broader scheme when it comes to disaster risk reduction. The motto of this assignment is to narrate ICT’s contribution internationally and compare it with national DRR measures. The data that are used in here are secondary data.
Key words: ICT, DRR, National, International.

Due to the geographic location and geological settings, Bangladesh has to endure several life-threatening catastrophes (Islam et al. 2014). Previous disasters snatched so many valuable lives and destroyed a huge amount of property. In this scenario, it is imperative to think about measures that incorporate technologies in disaster schemes. Access to proper, reliable, timely information assists to a great extent in all phases of a disaster. Without reliable information, people often end up guessing a sketchy situation which leads to an uncertain situation (Wattegama 2014). ICTs have their own advantages that effectively serve in the arena of Disaster Risk Reduction (ADPC n.d.).
During disaster, receiving proper information becomes one of the basic needs. Proper respond requires correct and timely information dissemination. Thus, technology/ICT can serve in this arena rather than dissemination information manually. Recently, there is a growing awareness regarding incorporating ICT in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). ICT can help in shifting paradigm from conventional to comprehensive (Hasan and Ayub 2015).
Current policy recognizes the importance of ICT in DRR; per se, Hyogo Framework for Action (ADPC n.d.). ICT provides the scope for proper coordination, management, relief distribution, search and rescue and so on.
Although Bangladesh is a disaster prone country, it has set an example in shifting the paradigm of disaster; where ICT plays a role. ICT has contributed to shape the knowledge regarding disaster, disaster risk (Hasan and Ayub 2015). But in spite of having an infrastructural line up, there is no comprehensive system that designates roles and responsibilities among different organizations.
Though ICT is a very important tool regarding reduce disaster risk, there are some limitations for which it cannot serve properly. First, there is a severe deficiency of experienced personnel to operate technological sector. Second, a lot of acts are stated but government is reluctant to enact them all. Third, there are not enough backup plans in case of power loss occurs. Because without power, most of the tools will not come in handy. Forth, a mass people are out of reaching the meteorological data, forecasting due to lack of medium.
The assignment is carried out with a view to acknowledging the existing pattern of ICT in the arena of Disaster Risk Reduction. With adequate references, it compares national and international scheme of DRR and role of ICT in this regard. As the concern of ICT is increasing with the pace of DRR in present time; it is essential to compare ICT in national DRR with international perspective.
The following research questions were taken into account while doing the assignment. These are –
What are the current ICT tools that are in use in DRR of Bangladesh and other countries?
Is it possible to bring new dimensions in existing DRR pattern of Bangladesh?
The objectives are the following –
To get an overview of ICT in DRR in national and international perspective.
To suggest some ideas comparing the upper two perspectives.
Disaster cannot be eliminated totally but the loss due to it can be minimized (Hasan and Ayub 2015). For effective DRR, it needs special attention from all sectors. ICT can help in this regards. It can play a pivotal role for reducing disaster risk. There are some traditional channels and emerging channels to serve in this regard (Wattegama 2014). Bangladesh gained its popularity in the sector of Disaster Management for shifting into proactive measures from reactive measures. This was possible due to largely focusing on early warning, preparedness, welfare of people, reducing vulnerabilities and so on.
Complexity and uncertainty is a part of eliminating disaster risk (Hasan and Ayub 2015). It varies with different context, type, distance, time. So, collecting and analyzing data manually is a comparatively hard job (Yap 2011). There ICT plays a significant role to highlight the risk zones, formulate different simulations to understand about upcoming extreme events.
Early warning beforehand a disaster was developed with the help of mobile phone, radio/community radio, television, different software, satellite based data, GIS, remote sensing both nationally and internationally (Hasan and Ayub 2015). Among them radio, television, mobile phone is marked as the most valid tool. Because, hardly all the countries have access to internet as most of them are developing countries. But again they have some drawbacks- if they are switched off; people remain in dark about the upcoming disaster (Yap 2011).
Satellite-based communication system can come in handy when ground internet, network is not at work. In Asian region, Thaicom’s IPStar satellite has established for the broadest service network (Wattegama 2014). Bangladesh should make the best use out of it during disasters.
The Indian Ocean tsunami (December 2004) made the world astonished.
There was next to no warning measures and thousands of people were suddenly in front of giant killer waves. In the aftermath of the tsunami, several international meetings have been held and they came to a conclusion. That is to build to Multi Hazard Early Warning System in the regime of South-East Asia. Later Bangladesh also showed interest to this early warning system (Wattegama 2014).
Lanka Software Foundation founded free and open source based software named ‘Sahana’. Which helped to find missing person showing electronic bulletin, organized donor organization, keep a virtual record of temporary camp, shelter. So, technology can help immensely when it comes to disaster.
A disaster database – ‘DesInventar’; that stores up to 30 years of data helped 17 countries of North and South America. Later, inspired by this Orissa (India) created a database that contains data from 1970s. Again, the India Disaster Resource Network (IDRN) is a web-enabled and GIS-based national database that collects and stores information such as different organizational expertise, details of equipment. So that, they can be mobilized quickly in the time of response (Wattegama 2014).
A case study shows that during Haiti earthquake in 2010, the distressed people could send a SMS out of cost to the Haitian diaspora community. Then the outside community added location and passed it to different organizations, NGOs to accommodate relief for them. This set an example for two-way communication, which is very much significant during disaster. But this measure is absent from Bangladesh’s disaster scheme (ADPC n.d.). Also, GIS is flourishing platform in DRR for creating baseline information for risk assessments. But due to lack of experts, the sector is remained untouched.
In Bangladesh, National ICT Policy was enacted in 2009; and there is a wide range of activities are stated with a view to protect citizens through effective ICT management. It comprises reote sensing technologies for disaster management and mitigation, SMS based disaster warning system, efficient relief management and post-disaster activities monitoring, GIS based systems to monitor flood ; cyclone shelters, GIS based systems to ensure equitable distribution of relief goods and identify hard to reach areas and so on (MSICT 2009).
Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO), Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), Flood Forecasting Warning Centre (FFWC), Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), Institute for Water Modeling (IWM) and other organization work relentlessly in DRR sector with the help of technology in Bangladesh (MSICT 2009). And they are trying to add new dimension in early warning system as a part of disaster risk reduction.
Bangladesh is lagged behind when it comes to technological advancement. There is much opportunity to contribution in this section. For example, in the previous section, there is mentioned about the two-way communication system that helped Haitian distressed people. As that is absent from Bangladesh DRR implementation, it could be introduced from a new angle. Two way communications cannot help only during disaster, but also in pre-disaster situation. There could be a free portal/line that would only take suggestions, complaints regarding the existent problem for a specific society.
The assignment is conducted by reviewing and using secondary sources. The assignment mostly followed the researches, papers, articles where secondary data are used immensely and qualitative in manner.
Conceptualization was the first step doing this assignment. A mind map was created while selecting and reviewing the data. The data were collected in the manner that supports the idea of the topic.
ICT is only a tool that can be used for mitigate, preparedness, response purpose. The effect of ICT lies in how it is used for reducing disaster risk. This is the key challenge. Again, most of the disaster prone countries are developing countries. They have little access to internet other than radio, television. In this situation it is difficult to set an ICT-based DRR system.
Some governments are also negligent when it comes to incorporate ICT in the national disaster scheme. It is time to realize that ICT is not only a mere tool; actually it can serve in a broader sense for reducing disaster risk and achieving sustainable future. It can be beneficial to all concerned stakeholders, non government- government bodies, donor agencies and more. An all out effort should be made for proper cooperation and coordination, building experts and last but not the least mainstream technology in the existing disaster risk reduction practices.

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Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) n.d., ICT for Disaster Risk Management, viewed on 11 October, 2018, link: https://www.preventionweb.net/files/47520_ictfordisasterriskmanagement.pdf
Ayo, CK, Adeboye, AB and Gbadeyan JA 2011, Application of ICT to Resource and Disaster Management, Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 77-86.
Hassan, M and Ayub, A 2015, Role of ICT in natural disaster management of Bangladesh (Doctoral dissertation, BRAC University).Islam, ARMT, Tasnuva, A, Islam, MT and Haque, MR 2014, Management Approach to Disaster Scenerio in Bangladesh: An Overview, Int. J. Sci. Res. Pub, vol.4, no. 3, pp. 1-7.
Ministry of Science and Information ; Communication Technology (MSICT) Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 2009, National ICT Policy – 2009, July 2009
Wattegama, C 2014, ICT for disaster management.Yap, NT 2011, Disaster management, developing country communities & climate change: The role of ICTs, Manchester: Report, eds. R, Heeks and A, Ospina for IDRC, Centre for Development Informatics, Insitute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

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