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December 2005

Announcement of a publication

Strengthening disaster risk management in the agricultural sector in Bangladesh

Study on physical and environmental context, institutional analysis, and vulnerable group profiling in selected project pilot areas in the Northwest of Bangladesh by the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS)

Under the FAO-Department of Agriculture Extension of Bangladesh (DAE) project entitled “Support to the Strengthening of Disaster Preparedness in Agricultural Sector (SSDP) project”, the present study was carried out by the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) multi-disciplinary team.

The major objectives of the CEGIS study were threefold: a) Development of a replicable methodology for vulnerability assessment and analysis; b) Identification of the vulnerabilities in the three major areas (i.e. physical/environmental, livelihoods, and institutional) that can be used for plan of action for increasing preparedness; and c) Contribution to the overall capacity building exercise of the DAE for agricultural disaster preparedness. The study focused primarily on two different types of vulnerabilities: Deflood and drought. The study has been carried out with a preparedness approach and with specific respect to the agriculture sector in Bangladesh.

As part of this study, flood and drought hazard maps have been produced, utilising innovative and nationally accepted models. Flood hazard mapping has been yielded out of a model run with the latest scientific data available for flood modelling.

The livelihoods and institutional analysis have been developed with a participatory vulnerability assessment framework which is based on the existing contextualized works carried out for livelihoods and vulnerability assessments in Bangladesh.

Following an examination of the three tiers of vulnerability analysis (environmental, livelihoods and institutional), the present study has developed an integrated analysis and illustrated some of the emerging issues prevalent in the both flood- and drought-vulnerable pilot areas.

The core issue to have emerged from the study is the extreme vulnerability of the livelihoods of the people residing in these areas. Some of these vulnerabilities are associated with climatic or environmental conditions, some are linked with anthropogenic causalities or livelihoods dimensions, others still depend upon people’s access to adequate services from formal and informal institutional services. Despite the presence of these risk factors, one encouraging trend is that some individuals are actively attempting to decrease their vulnerable status by better managing these vulnerabilities.

The core knowledge acquired through this study can be utilised for the SSDP project and other initiatives on disaster preparedness. The capacity-building process for preparedness both within and outside the DAE would benefit from the findings of this study and the methodology developed for vulnerability assessment.

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