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UNDRR Grant Boosts Seismic Risk Assessment in Bangladesh


Sep 29, 2023

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has granted support to the Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM) for a fundamental initiative aimed at earthquake risk assessment in Bangladesh. This project, running from August 2023 to March 2024, primarily focuses on generating sub-national earthquake risk analyses for Bangladesh.

Closing the Knowledge Gap

Bangladesh faces substantial seismic risks due to its diverse geography, from the active Himalayan belt in the north to seismic-prone southern regions. Vulnerable building typologies, rapid urbanization, liquefiable soils, non-engineered structures, and inadequate code enforcement contribute to high seismic risk. Earthquakes not only result in human and economic losses but also disrupt society and businesses for extended periods. To address this, this project aims to develop an open seismic risk model for Bangladesh, offering valuable insights for informed decision-making in disaster risk management.

Expanding Collaborations with MoDMR

Bangladesh's Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), since 1972, has partnered with national and international entities for disaster risk assessment and mitigation. Collaborations with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) led to the Comprehensive Disaster Management Plan (CDMP) in 2004. The Bangladesh Urban Earthquake Resilience Project (BUERP) by the World Bank, in tandem with the Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative (EMI), commenced in 2012. More recent efforts include a localized Index for Risk Management (INFORM) and various academic studies. However, there is a gap signaled by the absence of an open seismic risk model for Bangladesh that may undermine the efficacy of earthquake risk management policies, programs, and investments. Within the scope of this project, we aim to bridge this gap to develop an open-source probabilistic seismic risk model for Bangladesh and transfer key insights from the risk assessment to decision-makers in the government and other key stakeholders in the disaster risk mitigation community in the country.

Data Integration and Validation

The main objective of this project is to develop a detailed, open, sub-national earthquake risk model and evaluate seismic risk for Bangladesh at the zila (district) and upazila (subdistrict) level. The project incorporates certain key updates to the probabilistic seismic hazard model for the Indian subcontinent in GEM’s Global Hazard mosaic, and integrates the hazard with updated high-resolution exposure and vulnerability data for Bangladesh, ensuring context-specific risk assessment. GEM's prior division-level maps for Bangladesh will be enhanced to upazila (subdistrict) level in this endeavor. Data sources include the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP), Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), and others.

A Collaborative Effort

Kazi Shahidur Rahman, Humanitarian Affairs Specialist at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Bangladesh, expressed his enthusiasm, acknowledging the project's alignment with government and stakeholder risk assessment activities. He conveyed gratitude to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) for their enduring partnership with the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT), underscoring their commitment to this crucial endeavor.


Additional notes: Expert Panel Composition

The technical panel steering this seismic risk assessment initiative is a collaborative assembly of key stakeholders and experts. Led by the Additional Secretary of Bangladesh's Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), it comprises representatives from vital entities, including the Department Of Disaster Management (DDM), the Fire Service and Civil Defence of Bangladesh, the Ministry of Housing & Public Works (MoHPW), and the Statistics and Informatics Division (SID) of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). 

In addition, the panel includes the participation of seasoned national experts specializing in seismic hazard and risk assessment from institutions such as the University of Dhaka (DU), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and Jahangirnagar University (JU). Further enriching the panel's knowledge base are contributions from the Geological Survey of Bangladesh, the Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bangladesh. 

This diverse and multidisciplinary collaboration underscores the commitment to ensuring the project's success in bolstering earthquake preparedness and resilience across Bangladesh.

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