AbstractsEarth & Environmental Science

Vulnerability and response experiences of the Bangladeshi coastal communities to cyclone disasters

by Edris Alam

Institution: University of Northumbria at Newcastle
Department: Geography and Environmental Sciences
Degree: Master's Degree
Year: 2007
Keywords: Tropical cycones, disasters, vulnerability and resilience
Posted: 11/20/2017
Record ID: 2150694
Full text PDF: http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/academic-departments/geography/


Cyclones and storm surges are frequent events in the coastal areas of Bangladesh and innumerable lives and properties have been devastated by catastrophic cyclones over the last few years. The coastal and island people of Bangladesh have been living with cyclones and storm surges for many generations. Within the above context this research explores the underlying causes of vulnerability to cyclone hazard in terms of past losses. It also documents local knowledge about cyclone predictions, long term adaptation and the coping strategies of local people pre, during and post cyclone periods, based on qualitative data collected from the cyclone prone coastal and island areas of Bangladesh. The findings of the research demonstrate that cyclone hazard vulnerabilities lie in hazard response processes, lack of infrastructures in hazardous places, settlement processes and pattern, and the only means of livelihood in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. Although there are broadcasts of satellite warning signals, coastal and island people try to understand cyclone formation by observing weather patterns and the behaviour of domestic animals and birds. Prior to the cyclone, the local people increase religious activities and try to save food and valuable possessions. Prior to the April 1991 event, If the local residents fail to reach cyclone shelters, the affected people take refuge in thatched-roof houses and big-branch trees, which are renowned for providing protection during the tidal surges. Over the years, there were ongoing improvements in increasing the number and construction design of cyclone shelters, brick built houses, informal shelters (i.e., prayer places, markets in growth centres, community centres, and etc.) where the affected people take shelters during storm surges. In the aftermath of the cyclone, along with self-instinct survival strategies, the coastal and island people form a social mechanism that is vital in helping each other in coping with the destruction and loss. The study recommends launching awareness programmes amongst coastal denizens to encourage them to interpret warning signals and the capacity of satellite imagery to detect cyclone location in Bay of Bengal. Hazard analysis and mitigation can be more effective when it takes into account human induced vulnerability factors along with local people’s perceptions, beliefs, and coping strategies with disaster management policies for the coastal and island areas of Bangladesh.