The UN envoy responsible for disaster risk reduction Thursday commended Bangladesh for issuing a policy directive requiring that risk assessment be integrated into all development projects, as the country expands its cyclone preparedness to include earthquake readiness.

"I am heartened to hear that the same dedication which the country has devoted to protecting the population from cyclones is now being applied to earthquake risk," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström.

Wahlström, who also heads the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), said in a release, "We only need look to recent tragic events in Haiti, Japan and Turkey to understand the reality of this risk."

Speaking at an event to mark the country's National Disaster Preparedness Day, Wahlström said Bangladesh is the "epitome of resilience," as evidenced by its successful effort to reduce mortality from cyclones over the last 40 years.

"Your country is often cited as an early example of a successful national effort to prepare for the worst-case scenario through planning, effective early warning, social mobilisation and putting in place the shelters necessary to save lives," she said.

More than a third of the population, over 40 million people, lives in seismic zones and UNISDR supports the full implementation of the Bangladesh National Building Code as an important first step towards minimizing casualties.

Bangladesh is considered particularly vulnerable to a rise in sea levels and intense cyclones and is ranked by the Asian Development Bank as the Asian country most vulnerable to climate change.

In a meeting with Wahlström, the Bangladesh Minister for Food and Disaster Management Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, told the UN envoy that his country only has 3,000 cyclone shelters, but requires 5,000.

The Minister also noted that the country's series of embankments for protection against rising sea levels are inadequate, with many of them in need of replacement or strengthening.

Wahlström, who is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh, will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday. They are expected to discuss how Bangladesh can further promote climate change adaptation policies and disaster risk reduction programmes.

Cyclone Preparedness

As per the date available in various websites, its reported that Bangladesh lacks any satellites of its own. The three satellite ground stations located in Betbunia, Talibabad and Mohakhali receive feeds from other satellites.

The Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation (SPARRSO) provides storm predictions and early warnings using feeds from NASA and NOAA's satellites. The warnings are usually given on a scale of 10, with 10 being given for the deadliest storms.

In Bangladesh, the periods between May to June and October to November are generally considered as the "cyclone season."

The 1991 Bangladesh cyclone is considered to be one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in Bangladesh. The devastating storm with winds of around 250 km/h (155 mph) which hit Bangladesh's Chittagong district on April 29, 1991, killed at least 138,000 people, leaving as many as 10 million homeless.

Bangladesh suffers from devastating tropical cyclones, frequently due to its unique geographic location (between latitudes 20° and 27°N and longitudes 88° and 93°E).

After the 1991 cyclone, a detailed program for storm prevention was outlined by the government called "A Comprehensive Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP)."

Under this programme, around 32, 2000 volunteers are trained and cyclone shelters have been constructed in the coastal regions.

The shelters are built on elevated platforms and serve the dual role of schools or community centres during normal weather.