Benefits of government relief and rehabilitation support provided during disasters do not reach the actual affected people because of corruption and theft by officials concerned, although there is enough allocation.
Corruption on a large scale also took place in relief programmes during Cyclone Aila in 2009. Many affected people are yet to be rehabilitated and are still living under the open sky.
Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahyak Foundation, made the observation at a virtual youth panel discussion titled "Towards Bangladesh at 50: Climate Change, Flooding and Livelihoods" on Saturday.
Dr Ahmad said 26 canals of Dhaka have already been encroached. The country is said to have 17% forests, but they have nothing inside. According to the river commission, the country has 46,000 river encroachers. There are laws, but they cannot be executed.
"The government is working on mitigating water-logging. But it is not possible until the encroachers' mind-sets are changed," he said, calling upon youths to work collectively in establishing a corruption-free society.
He further said, although a prediction had been made a month before imminent floods in haor areas in 2017, no committee had been formed to repair embankments there. There was obvious negligence by relevant officials.
About the $100 billion green climate fund, he observed that developed countries committed to set up the fund, and pledges have been made so far for only $19 billion, but no money has been released yet.
Bangladesh requires $42 billion for climate change adaptation and another $28 billion for minimisation of climate change effects, he said.
To attain the Sustainable Development Goals needs an additional $928 billion, $66 billion of which is required every year, Dr Ahmad remarked.
He further emphasised the need for engaging youths in a more creative and effective manner to build an economically prosperous, humane, and environment-friendly Bangladesh.
According to Dr Ahmad, youths should be engaged not only in volunteer work but also in policymaking and planning.
The discussion programme was organised by the Dhaka School of Economics (DScE), a constituent institution of the University of Dhaka, in association with Coastal Youth Action Hub, Youth Net for Climate Justice, DScE Environment Club, and DScE Quiz and Communication Club.
Dr Quazi Kholiquzzaman, as the chairman of the DScE's governing council, presided over the event. The Business Standard was the online and print media partner.
Moderated by Dr AKM Nazrul Islam, an associate professor of DScE, the event was also participated by six designated youth panel speakers.
Dr Nurul Quadir, former additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, was present as a special guest.
He talked about needs for scientific knowledge and the use of science for effective management of floods in the country.
He, however, reminded everyone of the fact that over-dependency on science and forgetting the needs for developing required skills will not make a better society.
Sohanur Rahman, chief executive of Bangladesh Youth Parliament and a climate activist, spoke about the need for creating better opportunities for young people by the state and other relevant stakeholders to ensure their engagement and participation.
Sanjida Afroz, president of DScE Environment Club, emphasised the needs for more in-depth research and studies on flood impacts. In her opinion, no effective policy can be adopted without assessing all types of costs.
Mahfuz Seam, president of DScE's Quiz and Communication Club, focused on solving the problems of urban waterlogging as well as creating better youth networks to work closely with affected people during disasters.
Masuma Moriom, a master's student of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies at Dhaka University, said houses in flood-prone areas should be more disaster-tolerant as only shelter centres might not solve the problem.
Shahriar Ahmed, a master's student of Economics at Dhaka University, urged all for creating a better database to use real-time data for policy planning and relief and safety net operations.