Bangladesh is 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 concerning climate adaptation.
Flooding is a yearly event that 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.
The researchers conducted a focus group discussion with the respondents of local community leaders and policymakers. It is worth noting that local community leaders responding to the study reside in coastal and river areas.
What the study revealed
The discussion result revealed a need for infrastructure and structural protection, multi-purpose cyclone shelters, permanent embankments, and improved transport infrastructure.
In the past, the government has implemented initiatives to reduce these extreme weather events’ damage and negative impact. Over time, preparedness strategies have developed and continue to change.
Recently, however, the traditional methods and response to these natural events have proved to be insufficient, and a need for better pre-disaster strategies needs to be put in place.
A reactive response to calamity is too costly, and a more cost-effective approach must be implemented. Thus, shifting 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 its requirements by asking the local community to identify existing infrastructures that reduce risks and point out their deficiencies and how they can be improved to function effectively.
Respondents affirm the critical role of efficient and effective infrastructure for a more resilient community. These include building adequate structures and infrastructures, maintaining crucial infrastructures that decrease risks, and making necessary adjustments to adapt to the changing climate.
Bangladesh needs a more resilient infrastructure system
Previous researches highlight 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 the impacts of extreme weather conditions and recognizes 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 to build more cyclone shelters, river embankments, flood shelters, and urban drainage while improving existing ones.
In addition to the structural measures, a need for non-structural also exists. For example, the use of indigenous knowledge by residents and what coping strategies that locals used proved effective in protecting themselves against extreme weather conditions.
Non-structural measures include early warning systems, improving community awareness, and increased emergency preparedness.
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; they should be at an appropriate height considering future floods and the depth of flooding.
- The transport infrastructure is in a poor state. The lack of proper transport infrastructure and evacuation routes makes coastal communities more vulnerable. It makes it a challenge for community people to reach the cyclone shelters. Because of the poor road network, remote communities cannot receive disaster signals on time and usually on a last-minute basis.
- A comprehensive guideline at the national level is needed for the construction, management, and maintenance of cyclone shelters.
- Resilient embankments. Existing embankments need improvement, maintenance, and adequate to prevent flooding. New ones need to be built to last for many years.
Finally, this research aimed to bridge the gap between local community needs and local policymakers’ response to disaster risk reduction.
Read the full paper by clicking on the link provided below for more details on what Bangladesh is facing regarding climate change and what needs to be done now and in the future.
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