30 K - Local Consultative Groups in Bangladesh

The Earthquake Scenario in Bangladesh
As Bangladesh is located in a tectonically active much of the country
including Chittagong, Sylhet, Dhaka, Rangpur, Bogra, Mymenshing,
Comilla, Rajshahi are very much vulnerable to major earthquake disaster.
Although, some awareness is raised among a limited groups, due to some
recent earthquakes in the region, practically the country is far behind the
minimum preparedness level to face such a disaster in any of our cities.
Significant damaging historical earthquakes have occurred in and around
Bangladesh, and damaging moderate-magnitude earthquake occur every few
years. The country’s position adjacent to the very active Himalayan front
and ongoing deformation in nearby parts of south-east Asia expose it to
strong shaking from a variety of earthquake sources that can produce
tremors of magnitude 8 or greater. The potential for magnitude 8 or greater
earthquakes on the nearby Himalayan front if very high, and the effects of
strong shaking from such an earthquake directly effect much of the country.
In addition, historical seismicity within Bangladesh indicates that potential
for damaging moderate to strong earthquakes exist throughout much of the
country. Large earthquakes occur less frequently than serious floods, but
they can effect much larger areas and can have long-lasting economic,
social, and political effects.
Liquefaction is another source of earthquake related damage. During
sustained strong shaking, poorly consolidated, water saturated sediments can
liquefy and loose their ability to support loads. The foundations and supports
of structures built on liquefiable sediments can fail, causing damage or
destruction. Much of the country is of loose sandy soil and most of it
remains in saturated condition round the year, thereby vulnerable to
liquefaction in case of sustained ground motions.
Based on the above discussions, the probable scenario for an earthquake to a
scale of M6.5 or above in Dhaka city could cause:
1. Panic among the city dwellers and no knowledge of what is to be
done during and immediately after the eq. occurrence.
2. Possible sinking of many of the buildings on filled earth with
shallow foundations due to the liquefaction effect.
Source: Mr Sadrul Ameen, Senior Programme Manager, USAID
3. If the eq. occurs during monsoon time possible damage of the
Dhaka flood protection embankment due to liquefaction effect
causing sudden submergence of a large area.
4. Large scale damage and some collapse of poorly constructed
and/or old buildings.
5. Possible outbreak of fire in most of the buildings from the gas lines
(the residential ovens are mostly in burning condition from
morning to mid-night)
6. Possible damage of power installations and power cut off for
indefinite period.
7. Water supply failure as almost all the deep tube wells are run by
power, and possible water line damage
8. Damage of roads and blockage of traffic due to falling of debris
from collapsed buildings and other installations on or near roads.
9. Some of the hospital buildings may collapse killing a large number
of inmates and stopping medical facilities for the disaster victims.
10.Some of the school building may collapse killing and injuring a
large number of students
11.An after shock may cause further collapse of many of the already
damaged buildings.
12.A few rescue equipment, whatever are available, can not be
operated due to the lack of guidance, availability of operators,
some will be non-functional, some will be under the rubbles, some
can not find access to rescue spots due to road blockage, etc.
13.Limited access from outside as most or the highways/bridges,
airport will not be functional.
Although during the last decade much advancement has been achieved in the
earthquake engineering, modern science has yet to invent any technology
that can predict earthquake. Therefore, we must begin to do whatever we can
to be prepared to face such a disaster that can hit us any time. A perfect
solution can not be made all on a sudden, like Aladin’s Lamp, but unless we
begin dealing with these, the situation will be worse as days past.
What the DER can do?
To address the problem multisectoral, multiagencies, coordinated efforts are
essential. The primary role to be played, is the responsibility of the GOB,
which is to identify a lead agency to coordinate with a number of lined
agencies. The policy issues could be handled mostly at the national level.
Source: Mr Sadrul Ameen, Senior Programme Manager, USAID
Planning and implementation issues are to be handled at the local level. In
most countries the city municipalities are the focal points for the planning
and implementation of such issues.
The donor agencies and the NGOs can play vital roles in the identification of
the right activities, prioritizing, coordinating, and expediting the activities
and their implementations. They can play as catalyst to the GOB efforts in
the mitigation. The NGOs have relative advantages to handle the soft
elements such as, public awareness, training, etc. They can also assist the
implementation of the hard elements. The donor agencies, can also assist the
GOB to access resource and also to procure qualified personnel for technical
evaluation, design, and providing recommendations for the right activities
both in policy matters and the program implementations. In the post
earthquake situation the DER can help the country for quick damage
assessment, determination of the individual donors for appropriate
assistances, and coordination of the relief efforts with the GOB. The role of
the DER for an effective and coordinated approach to the above activities
can be very helpful for any affected population.
Broadly, we can classify the approaches in to two categories, i.e.,
preparedness and response. Some of the preparedness and response, could
be activities, are listed below, many of which can be achieved in an
accelerated way through DER intervention:
At the GOB set up a special body, may be within the MDMR
(DMB?), to take lead and coordination role.
Prepare and disseminate special guidelines (like the standing
orders) for earthquake
Launch extensive mass awareness programs for earthquake;
the awareness must include city dwellers, government
officials, municipality officials, politicians, engineers,
architects, designers, builders, medical people, etc.
Develop appropriate training materials for different groups,
such as planners, engineers, contractors, masons, bar binders,
volunteers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, first aid providers,
etc. Take training programs at the appropriate levels to impart
these trainings.
Update the Bangladesh Building Code and make the
document legal, make it binding for all construction activities.
Source: Mr Sadrul Ameen, Senior Programme Manager, USAID
Install and operate seismic instrument at suitable locations on
the country.
Develop a comprehensive regional catalogue of all recorded
historical earthquakes in Bangladesh and adjacent regions that
influence the country’s seismic hazards.
Prepare a regional seismic hazard map of Bangladesh using
the existing information and incorporate appropriate building
Develop Bangladeshi scientists including seismologists,
engineers, architects, geologists, and other technicians through
training and higher education programs to assume leadership
in all aspects of earthquake hazard assessment studies.
Conduct urban hazard study including microzoning,
liquefaction potential survey, vulnerability assessment of
individual buildings, etc. for all the major cities of
Bangladesh. Also, conduct studies for the city life lines (gas,
water and sewerage, power, road access for fire fighters, etc.)
Conduct special studies on structural soundness of hospitals,
fire fighting centers, schools and university buildings.
Demonstrate retrofitting and introduce motivation program of
retrofitting through municipality leadership (for Dhaka City
this may be RAJUK).
Assessment of the fire fighting strengths and take appropriate
training, provisioning of appropriate fire fighting equipment,
and personnel for individual cities.
Assessment of the capacity of hospitals and other medical
centers to deal with large casualties.
Assessment of the doctors, nurses, and other technical
personnel, and the medical and equipment stock
Assessment of the rescue equipment stock and their usability
at the time of response.
Delineation of an efficient army and civilian combined rescue
Capacity of the existing blood banks, and development of a
large blood donors’ list including database of their contact
addresses and blood groups.
Source: Mr Sadrul Ameen, Senior Programme Manager, USAID