Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh and chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, have written for us about dealing with the twin perils of a super-cyclone and Covid-19 in Bangladesh last month:
There was no time to lose when Cyclone Amphan began forming over the Indian Ocean in May.
But shelters are not built with social distancing in mind in Bangladesh and the country faced a challenge: how to move 2.4 million people from the destructive path of the storm without delivering them into an even greater danger – Covid-19.
Mass evacuations are challenging at the best of times. People are reluctant to leave their homes unguarded. This time the challenge was far more complex. People were afraid to move to shelters for fear of the virus. First responders also had to make sure the evacuation itself was not a vector for contagion.
In a matter of days, Bangladesh prepared almost 10,500 additional shelters – on top of the 4,171 in existence – to accommodate evacuees with a measure of social distancing. More than 70,000 “cyclone preparedness” volunteers across coastal areas were mobilised. Masks, water, soap and sanitiser were distributed. The garment industry, reeling from cancelled export orders, retooled production lines to manufacture personal protective equipment.