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Disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services

Published : Friday, 1 June, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1143

Disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services

Disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services

Disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services are very important issues to address both locally and regionally. There are many reasons that the disaster risk reduction and climate services issues need to handle through regional cooperation in South Asian region. Country to country exchange of data and views are now very essential and helpful for disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services.

Contemporary human-induced climate change influences many hazards, exacerbating some and diminishing others. Climate change is, in effect, a potential hazard driver or a potential hazard diminisher, rather than being a hazard itself. The complexities of the interactions between climate change and specific hazards in specific locations sometimes make attribution and projections challenging.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempted to analyze links between climate change and hydro meteorological hazard trends and extremes. Few strong associations were found, with daily high temperature being the most prominent. Consequently, climate change's influence on disaster risk is much more on the hazard side than on the vulnerability side, affecting hazard parameters so that sometimes the hazard is exacerbated and sometimes the hazard is diminished.

Disaster risk, by definition, is a combination of hazard and vulnerability, with different approaches taken to combine the two parameters depending on the theory adopted or the practice being pursued. So, we should place climate change adaptation as one subset within disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigation as one subset within sustainable development.

Nepal-based regional knowledge development and learning centre International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has been working on these issues regionally.  Recently, ICIMOD, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), and Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) jointly organized a regional workshop on SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) Applied Science Projects in Dhaka.

I had the opportunity to join the event. Regarding the workshop, the background note mentioned that the ICIMOD is implementing the SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) initiative. It supports the regional member countries in disaster risk reduction and enhancing climate services by integrating earth observation data and geospatial technologies into the development decision-making.

It's a joint development initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). SERVIR works in partnership with leading regional organizations world-wide to help developing countries use information provided by earth observation satellites and geospatial technologies on key thematic areas of food security, agriculture, land cover, land use change, ecosystems, water resources hydro-climatic disasters, weather, and climate services.

The discussants at the event expressed their views and shared that Bangladesh has 405 rivers, 57 rivers are transboundary.  As these rivers traverse country boundaries there is no control over them and data sharing is limited and or controlled. The role of media is important in this regard to cover the issues. For flood mapping, the question is: where are the highly vulnerable people are living? So, we must think: from where to start? Where is the end? What is our capacity? How to go ahead? How to ensure sustainability, among others priorities need to address. Regional cooperation is vital on Data sharing, and to work on other issues.

While we discussed the issue, Birendra Bajracharya, Regional Programme Manager, Mountain Environment Regional Information System, at ICIMOD said, "Through SERVIR we bridge research and science with development, connecting space to village. A unique partnership between top universities in the United States, USAID, NASA, ICIMOD and government agencies is in place. There is value-addition in working with experts in the regional member countries and international experts, where we get to share knowledge while learning from each other. This workshop is the second in a line of events we have organized to fine tune our products to serve our partners better. We organized a similar workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal last year with participation by representatives from government agencies in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. This workshop is timely, as Bangladesh and Nepal are currently facing the havocs of thunderstorms, and we are ahead of the incoming floods to fine tune our models."

Mohammad Shahabuddin, Additional Director General of BWDB was optimistic about the partnership with ICIMOD and shared that Bangladesh could benefit a lot from new tools and technologies developed by ICIMOD-NASA joint venture programmes especially in the field of water resource management and flood forecasting technologies. He added, "The new mobile app for flood forecasting and warning services developed with support from SERVIR-HKH at ICIMOD is indeed a milestone for dissemination of flood warning messages more to the community level."

Disaster risk reduction and climate services are interlinked. Disaster risk reduction aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention. Disasters often follow natural hazards. A disaster's severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment.

Information about climate, climate change, impacts on natural and human systems, mitigation and adaptation strategies are tailored to the specific user requirements. Climate service users include economic, administrative, political and scientific bodies, within and across sectors and disciplines.
The capacity building of national technical services on extreme weather events analysis, the consolidation of a network among scientific, technical institutions to work on shared methodologies to create an objective and harmonized base of information. The aim is to transfer and share the know-how, to expand cooperation in sensitive areas to national, regional level to promote exchanges and collaboration through the application of research products and operational tools. It builds on existing initiatives that have proven to be successful at national level and intends to upscale them to larger geographic areas.

The science examines all climate changes irrespective of the cause of the change, while the international policy process considers anthropogenic climate change only. Both the IPCC and the UNFCCC agree that the human influence on the climate seems likely to push the planet into a climate regime that humanity has not before experienced.

Parvez Babul is the editor of, a poet and an author of several books on climate, food and nutrition, and women empowerment.

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