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January 27, 2019 Centre for Peace and Justice

Better coordination, accountability and localisation are required to address moments of crisis such as the 2017 Rohingya exodus, said a disaster management expert on Sunday (27 January 2019).

Dr Alistair DB Cook, coordinator of the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme and a research fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, also recommended steps for national and international actors.

The ones for national level include improving community-based disaster preparedness, streamlining approval process for incoming relief, assessing alternative relief entry points to Dhaka, building stronger links between the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner and local governments.

It also incorporates producing templates for contingency planning, reassessing Cox’s Bazar development plan, formalising knowledge transfers from UN peacekeeping missions and re-establishing Rohingya cam governing committees.

The ones for the international community includes establishing a feedback system for beneficiaries, increasing flexibility and integrating humanitarian standards into funding cycles and working with local governments to increase knowledge on disaster management policies.

It also incorporates identifying and engaging local actors for disaster preparedness, introducing and financing capacity-building programmes and identifying capacity gaps through research.

Dr Cook was giving a public lecture on “Complex Humanitarian Emergencies and Disaster Management in Bangladesh: the 2017 Rohingya Exodus” organised by the Centre for Peace and Justice of BRAC University in BRAC Centre Inn.

His recommendations came from a report he prepared examining Bangladesh’s established disaster management structures and the role of key actors through reviewing existing literature from international organisations, academia and think tanks.

He also took interviews of key disaster management stakeholders in Bangladesh from the end of February to the beginning of March 2018.

In analysing the response to the 2017 Rohingya exodus, the report aims to identify lessons learnt and factors which may impede effective disaster management and coordination.