Bangladesh is identified as one of the most vulnerable countries in Asia to climate change due to its geographical location and land characteristics. Its people and communities, especially in coastal areas, are already suffering the effects of natural events such as flooding, and cyclones caused by climate change.
A paper, entitled “Disaster Risk Reduction Infrastructure Requirements for South-Western Bangladesh” in 2016 by Gayan Wedawatta, Udayangani Kulatunga, Dilanthi Amaratunga, and Ahmed Parvez investigates how Bangladesh is coping with climate change and what are their strategies and plans in place with regards to climate adaptation.
Flooding is a yearly event which affects 30 to 50 per cent of the total land area. These natural hazards are projected to increase in the future.
Our previous post featuring the video, “Thirty Million” gives helpful information on the dangers that flooding brings to Bangladesh.
To gather information for this paper, a focus group discussion is used with respondents consisting of local community leaders and policymakers. It is worth noting that local community leaders responding to the study are those who are residing in coastal and river areas.
What the study revealed
The result of the discussion revealed that there is a need for infrastructure and structural protection, multi-purpose cyclone shelters, permanent embankments, and improved transport infrastructure.
The government in the past the government has implemented initiatives to reduce the damage and negative impact of these extreme weather events, and overtime preparedness strategies have developed and continue to change.
Recently, however, the traditional methods and response to these natural events prove to be insufficient and that a need for better pre-disaster strategies needs to be put in place.
A reactive response to calamity is too costly and that a more cost-effective approach needs to be implemented. Thus, a shift from a reactive-based approach to a risk-reduction approach is necessary.
The paper also identifies deficiencies and gaps in existing national and local management policies and their risk-reduction plans. It investigates how the community perceives Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and what are its requirements by asking the local community to identify existing infrastructures that reduce risks and point out its deficiencies and how it can be improved to function effectively.
Respondents affirm the important role of efficient and effective infrastructure for a more resilient community. These include building adequate structures and infrastructures, maintenance of crucial infrastructures that decrease risks, and making necessary adjustments to adapt to the changing climate.
Bangladesh needs more resilient infrastructure
Previous researches point out Bangladesh’s inadequacy to protect their property and livelihood because of limited resources and the pressures of immediate needs.
The government of Bangladesh acknowledges the importance of infrastructures to mitigate impacts of extreme weather conditions and recognize that existing infrastructures like coastal rivers and embankments need to be maintained and made sure that it is fit for purpose.
There is also an urgency in building more cyclone shelters, river embankments, flood shelters, and urban drainage and while improving on existing ones.
In addition to the structural measures, a need for non-structural also exist. For example, the use of indigenous knowledge by residents, what coping strategies that locals used that proved effective in protecting themselves against extreme weather conditions.
Non-structural measures, include early warning systems, improving on community awareness, and increased emergency preparedness among others.
Findings and recommendations
Furthermore, the paper highlights the following:
- Lack of cyclone shelters, and the deficiencies of existing ones. Cyclone shelters should be built to last many years into the future, it should be at an appropriate height that considers future floods and depth of flooding.
- Lack of proper transport infrastructure and evacuation routes, which makes coastal communities more vulnerable. The transport infrastructure is in a poor state. It makes it a challenge for community people to reach the cyclone shelters, and because of the poor road network, remote communities cannot receive disaster signals on time and usually on a last-minute basis.
- A need for a comprehensive guideline at the national level for construction, management, and maintenance of cyclone shelters.
- Resilient embankments. Existing embankments need improvement, maintained, and effective to prevent flooding. New ones need to be built to last for many years.
Finally, this research is aimed to bridge the gap between local community needs and local policymakers’ response to disaster risk reduction.
Read the full paper for more details on what Bangladesh is facing with regards to climate change and what needs to be done now and into the future by clicking on the button below:
Wedawatta, G., Kulatunga, U., Amaratunga, D. and Parvez, A. (2016), “Disaster risk reduction infrastructure requirements for South-Western Bangladesh”, Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 379-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/BEPAM-06-2015-0022