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Since the 1970s, the frequency of natural disasters has increased five-fold causing casualties both in terms of life and money. According to Global Assessment Report (GAR 13), one trillion dollars have been lost and one million people are killed in the last decade due to natural disasters. In 2010 alone, an estimated 42 million people were displaced by the sudden onslaught of natural disasters. Economic losses from natural disasters have increased nine-fold over the last 40 years. As population and economy continue to grow, a large number of people and more infrastructures are going to be located in hazard-prone areas. Future disasters in these areas are likely to be even more costly. The prospect of business is directly impacted by the disaster as they directly damage assets and disrupt the supply chain, causing a fall in both output and revenue. For instance, the direct loss from the Chao Phraya river floods of 2011 were approximately USD 45.7 billion which equals more than 60% of the Thailand’s average annual gross fixed capital formation from 2006 to 2010. Due to this event, GDP fell by 9.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the same quarter in 2010. Based on the impacts of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti in January 2010 and floods in Pakistan in July 2010, GAR 2011 reveals how disaster risk and poverty are closely interlinked. However, disasters do not spare the developed countries; the 2011 floods in Australia, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in north-eastern Japan are bearing the testimony in this context.

Bangladesh is a hotbed of disasters. A combination of geographical location and topography, on the one hand, and dense population, unplanned rapid urbanization with persistent poverty, on the other, result in disasters with heavy loss of life and economic damages. At the same time, because of the visible climate change, the frequency and intensity of disaster impacts have also increased. It is no surprise then that Bangladesh is listed as the fifth most natural disaster prone among 173 countries in the world by the World Risk Report 2012. UNISDR (2013) calculations reveal that 14 percent of our national GDP is still exposed to disasters every year.

Bangladesh has received the attention of the international community for its reasonable disaster management ability given its economic constraints. Disaster risk reduction has also been addressed in some sectoral plans. For instance, The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) program has built-in components to address risk reduction. However, the need to create a holistic and comprehensive risk reduction culture within national policies and strategies for disaster risk reduction is still not attained.

As the globe moves toward building a new, more inclusive and ambitious, post-Hyogo Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for the period following 2015, it is imperative that we need to increase the institutional knowledge and professionalize the disaster management. A wealth of information has been generated on national and international platforms. It is about time that we bring this into the academic arena through a systematic approach for managing the existing knowledge and creating new information through knowledge management and actionable research. The Department of Disaster Science and Management was established in 2012 under the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences in order to produce graduates who will harness this knowledge and work towards the integration of disaster risk reduction and resilience into pre- and post Sendai (2015-2030) development goals with the application of physical and social scientific instruments, cutting-edge innovation and technology.

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