As a disaster prone country, Bangladesh is regularly hit by natural hazards, including devastating cyclones, such as in 1970, 1991 and 2007. Although the number of cyclones’ fatalities reduced from 0.3 million in 1970 to a few thousand or fewer in recent events, loss of lives and impact on livelihoods remains a concern. It depends on the meteorological characteristics of cyclone and the general vulnerability and capacity of the exposed population. In that perspective, a spatially explicit risk assessment is an essential step towards targeted disaster risk reduction. This study aims at analyzing the spatial variation of the different factors contributing to the risk for coastal communities at regional scale, including the distribution of the hazards, exposure, vulnerability and capacity. An exploratory factor analysis method is used to map vulnerability contrasts between local administrative units. Indexing and ranking using geospatial techniques are used to produce maps of exposure, hazard, vulnerability, capacities and risk. Results show that vulnerable populations and exposed areas are distributed along the land sea boundary, islands and major inland rivers. The hazard, assessed from the density of historical cyclone paths, is highest in the southwestern part of the coast. Whereas cyclones shelters are shown to properly serve the most vulnerable populations as priority evacuation centers, the overall pattern of capacity accounting for building quality and road network shows a more complex pattern. Resultant risk maps also provide a reasonable basis from which to take further structural measures to minimize loss of lives in the upcoming cyclones.
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