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CRC/C/BGD/4

page 51

189.Orphaned children: An orphan is defined by the Orphanages and Widows Home Act, 1944 as a boy or girl under 18 years of age who lost his/her father or has been abandoned by his/her parents or guardians. Accordingly, all the children admitted into orphanages may not be totally parentless in the strict sense of the term. There is no reliable statistics on orphans and orphanages. The registered orphanages provide services to about 50,000 orphans and abandoned children. This is indeed a very small proportion compared to the estimated number of orphans. Devoid of parental support and care orphans are vulnerable to hazardous child labour, HIV, trafficking, physical and sexual exploitation. In case of orphaned girls, the risks of early marriage, abortion, sexual exploitation and other forms of violence are high.

190.Child victims of natural calamities: Bangladesh has long been associated with extreme vulnerability to natural disaster. Natural disasters have their roots in the nature of its terrain, the physical geographic features, its long coastline and the tropical climate. Flood is a regular phenomenon in the country with severe flooding occurring every five to ten years.

191.Disaster causes loss of assets, physical infrastructure, lives of human being and animals, among others. Women and children are worst sufferers of disasters. Acute poverty, recurrent natural calamities (such as river erosion, flood and cyclone) and other crisis situations often lead to displacement of child populations in huge numbers. Many of them ultimately find themselves catapulted from the relatively serene rural surroundings to the more complex urban scenario where they are forced to live and work in adverse conditions. However, due to significant investment in disaster preparedness including the development of early warning system and creation of wide network of flood and cyclone shelters, there has been a significant decrease in the loss of lives and property lost each year. However, natural disasters are still responsible for significant property losses with grave consequences for the poor. Areas prone to natural disasters are found to have higher incidence of poverty. In 2004, Bangladesh experienced a most devastating flood since 1998, though in terms of death 1988 flood was most damaging. Out of 64 districts of the country, 42 districts were affected by flood (Table-5.1). About one-fourth of the population of the country were affected.

Table 5.1

Comparison of flood damage

Indicators

1988

1998

2004

Inundated area (%)

61

68

40-60

Flood duration (days)

23

72

21

Persons affected (million)

45

31

30

    Total deaths (persons)

2 335

918

876

Source: UN CCA, 2005.

192.The Ministry of Food and Disaster Management has undertaken a set of measures to manage the disasters in an effective manner. Most important ones are adopting a Disaster Management Policy, a five-year Strategic Plan for the Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme, CDMP (2004-2008), supported by development partners like UNDP, EC and DFID. In addition to Government, NGOs/CBOs and communities also actively participate in disaster preparedness, management and post-disaster (rehabilitation) activities.

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