Disaster management and relief minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya addresses the launching ceremony of National Resilience Programme (NRP) at a city hotel on Thursday. Photo: UNDPDisaster management and relief minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said Bangladesh always faces natural disaster due to the adverse impact of climate change.“We need to continue our efforts to protect the lives and livelihoods from natural disasters,” the minister told the launching ceremony of National Resilience Programme (NRP) at a city hotel on Thursday.The government and UN agencies have jointly initiated NRP at a cost of $12 million to sustain the resilience of human and economic development in Bangladesh through inclusive and gender responsive disaster management and disaster risk informed development, says a UNDP press release.Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya hoped the newly launched programme would further build the capacity of the relevant ministries and increase resilience to natural disasters.He called upon all the line ministries and development partners to implement the programme effectively and efficiently for disaster risk reduction in line with the government commitment to implement the Sendai Framework.Disaster management and relief ministry secretary Shah Kamal said that 18 ministries are engaged with disaster management, so effective coordination is must for sustaining the disaster risk management initiatives.He said it is essential to have strong partnership for inclusive disaster risk reduction plan to sustain the economic and human development.The secretary hopes that NRP will enhance the strategic intervention and minimise the challenges of disaster management.“The government is following Whole of Society Approach in disaster management.”Shah Kamal underscored the need for construction of 3,000 cyclone centers in line with the 7th Five Year Plan for minimising the disaster risks of vulnerable people in cyclone prone areas.Disaster management and relief ministry additional secretary and also NRP national programme coordinator Md. Mohsin presented the overview and action plan of the programme.The programme is funded by the government, Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).The disaster management and relief ministry, the programming division of the planning commission, the women and children affairs and the local government division will implement the 3-year programme. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) will provide technical support.The disaster management will focus on disability inclusive and gender-responsive capacities, the programming division will focus on the capacity for disaster and climate risk informed planning, the department of women will focus on the gender dimension of the programme and the LGED will focus on resilient infrastructure.UN resident coordinator Mia Seppo emphasised on inclusive development, resilient infrastructure, engagement of private sector in risk informed business continuity plan and integration of global commitment in national development planning.Swedish ambassador Charlotta Schlyter said Bangladesh needs the engagement of women to fight and adapt disaster and climate risks.She underscored the need for gender responsive disaster management planning for enhancing sustainable development efforts.Water resources ministry secretary Kabir Bin Anwar, local government division additional secretary Mahbub Hossain, women and children affairs ministry additional secretary Md Ainul Kabir, planning division additional secretary Kazal Islam and DFID humanitarian adviser Omar Farook, among others, addressed the event.
Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. ReutersMalaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday he wants to develop an island on a cluster of rocks previously disputed with Singapore, a move that could anger its neighbour.The strategically located area has long been a flashpoint between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and they previously took a territorial dispute to the United Nations top court.The International Court of Justice in 2008 awarded two rock clusters, called Middle Rocks, to Malaysia while a nearby island was deemed to be Singaporean territory.Malaysia launched a challenge to that ruling last year but Singapore’s foreign ministry said Wednesday it had been withdrawn by Kuala Lumpur.However, at the same time Mahathir announced Malaysia wanted to develop an island on Middle Rocks, at the eastern entrance of the strategic Singapore Strait.The 100-kilometre (60-mile) strait is one of the world’s busiest commercial shipping routes, with vessels using it to access the city-state’s port.“It is our intention to enlarge Middle Rocks into a small island for us,” the 92-year-old-who started his second stint as premier this month after a surprise election win-told a press conference.He gave no more details about what the proposed island would look like or how long it would take to build.Mahathir added that Malaysia had already built a structure on Middle Rocks. Reports said Malaysia inaugurated a maritime base there last year.James Chin, a Malaysia expert from the University of Tasmania, told AFP that Singapore would see the move as “hostile”.“Among the Singapore elite, they will see it as part of Mahathir’s anti-Singapore stance,” he said.It came after Mahathir announced this week that he was scrapping a planned high-speed railway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as he seeks to improve the nation’s finances.Both developments are likely to alarm the Singapore government, already wary of Mahathir’s return as ties between the neighbours were famously stormy during his first stint as premier from 1981-2003.Still, Kuala Lumpur’s decision to drop its case at the ICJ could assuage fears.Malaysia had lodged its challenge in February 2017, calling for the court to overturn its earlier ruling granting its neighbour sovereignty over the disputed island.