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Bangladesh wins RISK Award for coastal resilience project

  • Published at 11:27 am May 19th, 2019
From left Thomas Loster, chairman Munich Re Foundation, RISK Award winner, Nandan Mukherjee, and Mami Mizutori, UNDRR Courtesy

The floating house could give shelter to a family of six, and allow them to produce their own food

A project that pioneers floating houses in Bangladesh has won the prestigious RISK Award for 2019.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori presented the €100,000-prize, a media statement issued from Geneva said.

Nandan Mukherjee accepted the prize, sponsored by the Munich Re Foundation, on behalf of Dundee University in Scotland, and Resilience Solution from Bangladesh.

The floating house has been designed such that it can give shelter to a family of six, reports the UNB.

According to the report, the family could survive flooding and produce their own food including vegetables, chickens and fish.

The organizers, the Munich Re Foundation, Global Risk Forum (GRF) Davos, and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction received 109 applications from 48 countries in response to a call for applications focused on coastal resilience in the face of climate and environmental changes.

Mizutori said: “This week, at the sixth Global Platform, we have heard time and again about the benefit of investing before a disaster strikes, rather than responding to its effects. This is a great example of the kind of investment that the world needs.”

On behalf of the Munich Re Foundation, Chairman Thomas Loster congratulated the winner and noted that around 40% of the world’s population lives in coastal areas less than 100km from the sea.

"There are lots of challenges, including rising sea levels, heavy rainfall, and intense storms. So the RISK Award is very pleased to encourage innovations such as these floating homes, which can be replicated in many parts of the world.”

In his acceptance speech, Nandan Mukherjee said the idea of disaster-resilient homes was prompted by a story he heard from a woman, who lost a child in a flood and was then abandoned by her husband.

“She blames herself every single day, and she told me that she would never take another child or try for a family again in her life because she was unable to safeguard poor lives,” he said.

He continued: “The area was protected by flood embankments, and people living inside the area did not anticipate flooding. Therefore they were living with a false sense of security that they were protected from flood. However, the reality was something else. They didn’t go to the emergency ‘safe’ shelter, because ‘safe’ shelters are not as safe as they sound.”

“Numerous literature documents the occurrences of rape, child abuse, inadequate space, poor water supply and sanitation access, and inadequate food in the shelters. Most importantly, there is no provision for continuing one’s daily livelihood in the safe shelters.”

Talking about disaster-resilient homes, he said: “It needs to be robust enough to float above floodwater, providing safety. It needs to generate enough food with proper nutritional balance. It needs access to water, electricity and all other basic amenities."

The outside walls of the house could be used for vertical gardens, harvest rainwater for self-sufficiency in drinking water, utilize renewable energy solutions for electricity and further utilize modern technologies like aquaponics and poultry rearing for livelihood and waste recycling.

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