Author/s:

M.
Shammi, M.

Year of Publication:

2020

Abstract

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts also struck by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown measures were ineffective with no sign of flattening the curve. Therefore, the high risk of transmission is evident with an increasing number of affected people. Under this circumstance, a multiple hazards scenario can be developed in this country due to climatic hazards such as cyclones, floods, landslides, heat waves, and the outbreak of infectious diseases such as dengue, cholera, and diarrhoea. The country experiences simultaneously the global pandemic, exceptionally prolonged flood along with the recovery stage from the damages due to the cyclone (Amphan). Therefore, these multiple factors have been putting pressure on losing millions of homes, livelihoods, and agricultural crops. This study aimed to assess the potential impact of a simultaneous strike of climatic hazards and infectious disease outbreaks and their possible strategic management in Bangladesh under different scenarios. A mixed methodological approach was followed in this study including a questionnaire survey, in-depth discussion with experts, and extensive literature review to assess the multi-hazard scenario in a resource-limited setting with high population density. A set of statistical techniques were used to analyze the responses (n = 1590) from different social groups (healthcare professionals, academicians, students, Government and NGO officials, and businessman) under three scenarios. The results revealed the high possibility of aggravating the impact of COVID-19 pandemic if there is a climatic hazard such as flood, cyclone have appeared. The majority of the respondents agreed that the situation will become more devastating if there is another outbreak of diseases such as dengue, cholera, and diarrhoea. The poor and fragile healthcare system of this country cannot bear such unprecedented pressure. The lack of risk assessment and communication, lack of sectoral coordination might restrict the contingency plan of the government. Therefore, considering the unprecedented worst cases a stringent strategic plan for emergency response, short term and long-term management should have to be formulated. Resilience building through proactive planning and implementation of integrated, inclusive and sustainable strategies will be effective to ensure the health and socio-economic security for multi-hazard threats in the country.

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