The South-West coastal region of Bangladesh has unique environmental characteristics. It is extremely vulnerable to natural and climate change-related disasters such as floods, cyclones, tornadoes, tidal surges, storm surges, river bank and coastal erosion. Cyclone Sidr, struck the coastline of Bangladesh in 2007, and cyclone Aila hit the region on 25 May 2009. Another storm resulted in a huge tidal surge in October 2010. The water level rose by 1 foot after the tidal surge and destroyed the embankments and other structures in 14 Upazilas. People in this area are vulnerable to cyclones, tidal surge and river erosion along with salinized water and soil. Extreme poor people are suffering the most because of their exposure to, and dependence on, natural resources for their lives and livelihoods.
Since 2009, Save the Children UK has been implementing its Household Economic and Food Security (HEFS) project in six Upazilas. This study explored why the HEFS model - based on assets, diversified livelihoods plus awareness training - was insufficient to prevent the damage to assets and livelihoods. How can implementors build on successful examples of resilience in order to prevent damage to the livelihoods of SCUK beneficiaries in the future and enable long-term adaptation to climate change?
The findings reveal that tidal surges made the extreme poor more vulnerable by destroying or damaging the few assets they owned. The majority of beneficiaries tried to apply their own ex-ante resilience strategies but these were inadequate in the face of increasing severity or scale of climate-related disaster events. Vulnerabilities vary across households, as do households’ abilities to prevent, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of disaster and climate change. The paper finishes with project recommendations and identifies local and national specific advocacy issues.
Prokriti Nokrek; Arafat Alam. Vulnerabilities and Resilience among Extreme Poor People: the South West Coastal Region of Bangladesh. Shiree Working Paper No. 5. Shiree, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2011) 50 pp.