German support for strengthening disaster management mechanisms

NGO News Report :: “Disasters will always occur, but their amplitude can often be reduced by quick reaction on the basis of sound preparedness”, pointed German Ambassador Albrecht Conze. He gave the closing remarks at a press conference held in Dhaka today (29 January) where the returnees of a Fire Safety Mission from Germany shared their experience. The press conference was arranged as part of Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM), a new project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Government. Earlier on the day, a workshop on establishing community fire brigades had taken place.

The GIDRM has been designed as a network, bringing together multiple stakeholders from developing, emerging and industrialised nations working in public administrations, academia, civil society and the private sector. For the initial pilot phase, GIDRM is being implemented in eight countries including Bangladesh, India, China, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar and Indonesia. In Bangladesh the project aims at promoting fire safety, by providing training aids and sharing skills and knowledge. A mission from the Fire Brigade of the City of Bonn visited Bangladesh in last October. It was followed by a similar mission from Bangladesh in November which included a study tour on fire safety in the industry and risk management in Germany.

Stressing the importance of this timely initiative, the Ambassador recalled the tragic accidents of Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza and underscored the necessity of an effective disaster management mechanism in Bangladesh with strong and capable actors across different segments of the society. He was hopeful that the knowledge sharing component of the initiative would quickly benefit Bangladesh’s disaster response capacity. “This country has a long history of brave response to disasters. The experience is there. However, Germany may be able to help when it comes to planning, methodology, logistics and the use of state of the art equipment in order to reduce casualties in the future”, Conze concluded.

The program was also attended by officials from Bangladesh Fire and Civil Defence, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. The Director General of the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, Brigadier Ali Ahmed Khan said that Fire Service and Civil Defense is the first responder organization for any kind of disaster in Bangladesh, and as such responsible for adequate response time. Professional skills of the highest standards were of the essence for fire fighters in Bangladesh whose capabilities were being closely watched in the wake of recent tragedies. He welcomed GIZ’s initiatives to facilitate training for fire fighters and expressed his appreciation for Germany’s support.

The outgoing Country Director of GIZ, Olaf Handloegten, has been named Head of GIDRM, based in Berlin. At his last press conference in Dhaka before leaving the country, Olaf Handloegten said that “Germany has learned that disasters can only be tackled effectively if we combine our efforts and link professional full-time government services with the strengths of professionally trained volunteers from the communities. This is one key prerequisite to strengthen the resilience of a nation. GIZ is pleased to see the German and Bangladeshi Fire Services work hand in hand towards a better response preparedness.”

The Fire Safety Mission returning from training in Germany included participants from the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense, Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and the Bangladesh Ministry of Home Affairs.


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