Corruption and irregularities have multiplied the damage caused by natural disasters, observed Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in its survey.
In its recently released report, TIB said there is around 14%-76% corruption in a number of projects related to construction, renovation and maintenance of coastal infrastructure.
Besides, a relative lack of skills, coordination and preparedness added exacerbated the issues caused by environmental catastrophes.
The anti-corruption watchdog disclosed the findings on Thursday in a report at a virtual press conference titled "Governance challenges in disaster response and way forward: Cyclone Amphan and other recent experiences".
TIB studied the last five major natural disasters -- Sidr (2007), Aila (2009), Roanu (2016), flood in 2019 and Amphan (2020) and identified the outcomes.
"We observed corruption in the construction of disaster-resilient infrastructure -- dams, roads, shelter, etc." said Md Newazul Maula, deputy research manager of TIB while presenting the keynote paper.
"A Tk26 lakh to Tk140-crore financial loss was incurred due to corruption in only four projects in the last 10 years."
The irregularities included prioritizing personal interests and using personal clout in the construction of shelters/dams, while shelters were found to be used for personal purposes and distribution of relief was done to extract political benefits.
Newazul maintained that there was also lack of transparency in disclosure of information, including reporting on actual loss, relief distribution and the number of local beneficiaries.
TIB further found that disaster forecast was misleading, both at the central and local levels.
There was also a lack of emergency rescue operations by local administrations and public representatives, the TIB official said, adding that certain institutional initiatives were sorely lacking, such as security patrols by law enforcers.
Also observed during the post-disaster period were inadequacies in emergency healthcare and sanitation, lack of steps to reform and rebuild educational institutions and bring back students from poor families, said the researcher.
Furthermore, the Water Development Board's lack of efficiency was found in dam repair, which has led to floods and displacement of people, he continued.
In his address, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the delivery of misleading information in turn leads to missed messaging in local emergency warning campaigns, while irregularities and corruption have amplified people's sufferings.
"We see there is a lack of effective initiatives to comply with international disaster management commitments and national policies."
Due to a failure to assess relief needs and accordingly formulate integrated rehabilitation action plans and allocations, genuine victims have been deprived of assistance, the TIB executive director observed, further going on to say that exceptionally marginalized sections of people have been displaced due to lack of immediate and long-term rehabilitation initiatives.
However, no measures have been taken to hold the accused organisations and individuals accountable, said Iftekharuzzaman.
Finally, TIB made some recommendations including updating existing weather warning systems - simplifying them for the general public to understand and disseminating forecast warnings in high-risk areas in a timely manner.
Relief and rehabilitation activities should be transparently conducted, prioritizing the most vulnerable families and areas, and information should be publicized, it added.
TIB also recommended building adequate shelters with special facilities for women, children, the elderly and the physically challenged, while the shelters and dams should be built, renovated, and rebuilt, and the displaced families rehabilitated.
It also maintained that accountability must be ensured to deter corruption and irregularities, while culprits should be punished.