4.1. Household Survey
Changes in household data are measured for 2013 and 2016 (the project start and end years respectively), with Appendix A
providing details and major points being summarised in this section. Population growth rate is only 0.02% annually (Table A1
(P1)), whereas the national population growth rate is 1.2% annually. Gender balance exists (Table A1
(P1)). Everyone owns a house (100%), while some have additional land (42.2%) and land for farming (22.2%) (Table A1
(P2)). The number of pupils going to school has increased by 55.2% (67–104) (Table A1
The main earning sources of the heads of household remain almost unchanged (Table A1
(P4)), but the secondary earning sources have increased dramatically (67.8%) (Table A1
(P5)), demonstrating that the households engage in multiple secondary earning sources. The major occupations within the communities are fishing, farming, poultry rearing, cattle rearing and day labour (Table A1
(P4)). The ownership of agricultural land has increased by 7% (Table A1
The total number of household assets (e.g., sewing machines, sanitary latrines, poultry, and other animals) has increased from 678 to 1998 (Table A1
(P8)). The total value of household assets and agricultural products has increased 223% (1,084,950–3,500,600 BDT) and 1702% (8,312,940–14,977,440 BDT) respectively. On average, the increment is 2684 BDT and 7405 BDT, respectively for each household (Table A1
(P7 and P9)).
The individual household level income has also increased rapidly. For example, at V2R’s finish, 40% of households earned 6001–9000 BDT per month, a rate which was only 8.9% at V2R’s beginning (Table A1
(P10)). In 2013, 31.1% of households’ monthly income was under 3000 BDT; this figure is now only 2.2%. In 2013, there were no households with a monthly income in the range of 9001–15,000 but that had increased to 11.1% in 2016 (Table A1
(P10)). The households are now earning more while fewer people are suffering from extreme poverty.
Household savings have increased from 3,240,000 BDT to 6,885,594 BDT on average. In 2013, no households had monthly savings in the range of 501–1000 BDT, a rate which had increased to 32.4% in 2016. An additional 13.2% of households are saving in the range of 1501–2000 BDT per month. On average, each household is saving 4050 BDT yearly (Table A1
Household members are now well-aware of where to go for advice on issues related to livelihood support. Most of them (63.3%) now go to the government line departments for advice on agriculture, livestock, fisheries and other livelihood-related queries. This figure was only 4.4% in 2013. Previously, 51.1% people did not seek advice, a rate that has now reduced to 7.8%. Moreover, 25.6% households are now self-trained to tackle SL-related problems, compared to none in 2013 (Table A1
Twenty-five percent of households borrow money from micro-finance institutions (MFIs) compared to 62.3% in 2013 (Table A1
(P13)). The borrowers are mostly (90.9%) dependent on one MFI (Table A1
(P13.1)) and they use it for investing in businesses (44.1%), family maintenance (24.7%) and to repay old debts (18.8%) (Table A1
(P13.2)). The reduction in borrowing money from MFIs suggests that the households are now better off than before and have other or better sources of income for meeting basic needs.
The V2R project strategically installed tube-wells and water points within the communities. Consequently, the distance to the nearest water supply reduced by 20% in the dry season and 21% in the wet season. 82.2% of households stated that they now do not have any problem with pure drinking water supply (Table A1
(P14–P18)). Now women and young girls, in particular, do not have to spend time fetching water from far away and have more time for other activities. For example, women now can dedicate time for SL activities and so increase household income.
In 2016, 87.8% of households owned a latrine and the rest used a shared latrine. In 2013, only 42.2% of households had latrines and most (43.6%) used to defecate openly (Table A1
(P19 and P21)). People are now more aware of the need to clean the latrines regularly. 66.7% of households responded that they clean the latrines daily, a rate which was 0% in 2013 (Table A1
(P20)). In 2016, 85.6% of households disposed of their household waste in a refuse pit. This figure was only 2.2% in 2013. Previously, they used to bury the household waste in random places (Table A1
It is common to wash hands before eating (30.1%) in Bangladesh. After V2R, an increase was observed of washing hands after defecation (11.7%) and before cooking (8.5%) (Table A1
(P23)). 93.3% of households use a soap bar and water for cleaning hands, a rate which was only 28.9% in 2013, whereas 71.1% of households usually used only water for cleaning hands (Table A1
(P24)). A sharp increase is seen in awareness on cleaning hands properly and when appropriate. In addition, household knowledge and practices in safely collecting, storing and treating drinking water have led to decreases of diarrhoea and other related diseases.
The people within the community mostly used to suffer from water-borne diseases linked to frequent flooding, storm surges and less availability of pure drinking water. From 2013 to 2016, diarrhoea, pneumonia and fever reduced by 34.5%, 14.9% and 8.2%, respectively. In total, 75.8% of households confirmed in 2016 that they are not facing water-borne diseases compared to 20.4% in 2013 (Table A1
(P25)). The improvement of water and sanitation services appears to have decreased the incidence of water-borne diseases. There is also a “WASH in School” component in the V2R programme. Children going to school, the rate of which has increased by 55.2%, are good agents of change for their families and surrounding households.
For health care, more people now go to a nearby general clinic (28.9%) and public hospital (8.9%). No one now visits a private doctor, whereas 22.2% did in 2013 and fewer people now go to nearby pharmacy (11.1%) as a first point of treatment (Table A1
(P26)). It is expensive to visit a private doctor and pharmacies are not reliable for getting proper treatment. In this context, it is better to visit a general clinic first and then, in case of a serious illness, one can go to the public hospital. The households are following this trend, and it proves that the household members now know where to go for treatment at a reasonable cost and are acting on that knowledge.
Household members are now able to identify signs of diarrhoea which is the most significant disease in these communities. For example, most people responded that dysentery (33.0%) and vomiting (28.0%) are the two major and initial symptoms (Table A1
(P27)) of diarrhoea, while in both cases, the rates were 0% in 2013. People now know how deal with diarrhoea; for example, giving Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) packet solutions to the patient (46.6%) or preparing ORS at home (24.4%). Previously, mostly people (62.3%) used to rely on homemade ORS/fluids (namely, a sugar, salt and water solution) which is now reduced to 31.2% (Table A1
(P28)). It is safer to use ready-made ORS packages to avoid contaminated water. 88.9% of respondents in 2016 described the ORS preparation process correctly (Table A1
(P29)). Previously, in 2013, most respondents (90.91%) used to get the information on health and hygiene from outreach workers, but now 86.7% get the information from the Red Crescent volunteers through the CDMCs (Table A1
From the 2016 survey, 98.9% of households are greatly concerned about disasters within the locality and 88.9% of households were affected by disasters in the past three years (Table A1
(P31 and P32)). The effects of disasters were mostly related to property damage (32.6%), loss of domestic animals (26.7%), loss of income (20.0%) and damage to agricultural products (14.8%) (Table A1
(P32.1)). As part of household preparedness, people can identify safe shelters for the family (32.8%). 11.8% of households stockpile necessary food, medicine and water in safer places. 25.2% of households take their animals to safer places, compared to 0% in 2013. 9.2% of households now take actions to protect their houses, a rate that was 0% in 2013. Previously, people used to think of primarily personal safety, but now they have increased concern about their household assets without a reduction in considering personal safety. In 2013, 13.0% of households used to do nothing for household disaster preparedness, a rate which has reduced to only 0.38% (Table A1
(P33)). Overall, the communities now appear to be better prepared for disasters.
Now, 98.9% of households get early warnings for multiple but mainly meteorological hazards. This figure was 73.3% in 2013 (Table A1
(P34)). 48.2% of respondents said that they receive warnings from the newly established CDMCs. Some households also receive warnings from the Government of Bangladesh’s cyclone preparedness program (16.1%), radio (15.3%) and mosques (8.8%). In 2013, most people (68.5%) would receive warnings from electronic media (i.e., radio, TV, and mobile phones) (Table A1
(P35)). CDMCs appear to be a useful addition in playing an important role in disseminating warnings.
After receiving warnings, 73.3% households go to nearby cyclone shelters (17.8% more than 2013), 13.3% go to well-constructed public schools (6.7% more in 2013), and 13.3% take shelter in raised plinths (compared to 0% in 2013). Previously, 24.4% of people used to stay at home (now 0%) and 11.1% used to go to a relative’s house (now 0%) (Table A1
(P36)). Respondents are much more aware of impending storms and where to take shelter.
4.2. Cost-Benefit Analysis
Costs are fixed and known for the V2R project implemented in these communities, while benefits can be harder to measure due to being both direct and indirect. CBA is one tool for estimating a project’s efficiency. This section reports a generalized CBA applied to V2R for the two communities in Bangladesh. It considers only the measurable and direct costs and benefits from V2R; i.e., project activity costs, households’ average yearly income, savings, household assets and agricultural product values. The benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of the V2R project is calculated as follows:
Total households in two communities (approximately) = 900
Number of households surveyed = 90 (a 10% sample)
Total population in surveyed households = 194 (male) + 187 (female) = 381
Average family size = 381/90 = 4.23 ≈ 4
The budget spent for V2R in Nowapara and Pashurbunia (2013–2016) is in Table 1
Average cost per household = 8,640,000/900 = 9600 BDT. The BCR is calculated considering four different scenarios as follows:
(a) Considering household income
Average yearly income for each household = 30,532.20 BDT
BCR = 30532.2/9600 = 3.18
(b) Considering household income and savings
Average yearly income for each household = 34,582.86 BDT
BCR = 34582.86/9600 = 3.60
(c) Considering household income, savings and asset values
Average yearly income for each household = 37,266.92 BDT
BCR = 37266.92/9600 = 3.88
(d) Considering household income, savings, asset and agricultural product values
Average yearly income for each household = 44,671.92 BDT
BCR = 44671.92/9600 = 4.65
If BCR>1, then the project is economically viable [56
]. Applying a discount rate to future benefits is common in CBA. Considering various uncertainties in the future (e.g., the monetary benefits can be different with varying disaster magnitudes, changes in vulnerability, and changes in hazard parameters), the standard practice is to apply a discount rate of 12% in DRR projects [57
]. In all the cases, and considering discount rates up to 20%, BCR > 1 is always found (Figure 4
In the next step, BCR is estimated over the long-term, considering a project benefit duration of 10 years, a typical value. Three different discount rates have been applied; 5%, 12% (the standard scenario for DRR [57
]) and 20%. No costs are discounted, as the project cost is fixed for 2013–2016 with no costs afterwards. Assuming a 5% discount rate, BCR = 2.86 in 2026. The figure is 1.50 for a 12% discount rate. If a 20% discount rate is considered, then BCR drops below one in 2025 (Figure 5
). In all the cases analysed, apart from the extreme scenario of a 20% discount rate right at the end of the project, the V2R project measures provided higher benefits than costs incurred. Other indirect and non-monetary benefits were not possible to measure, suggesting increased chances of achieving higher BCR from the V2R project intervention.
4.3. Achieving Resilience Characteristics and SL
During the V2R project, one part of the embankment broke and the whole study area was flooded in July 2014 (Figure 6
). The people within the communities have to deal with this kind of tidal flooding along with frequent cyclones and threats of sea-level rise.
The people in the communities rely heavily on this area for their SL activities, matching arguments that many Bangladeshis trade-off SL benefits with dangers from hazards [2
]. Most of the population had been earning their livelihoods on a day-to-day basis with little scope to consider possibilities of disasters.
For example, the primary occupations of the heads of households are dominated by seasonal fishing in the sea (23.3%), working as wage labourers (37.8%), agricultural activities (17.8%) and retail businesses (7.8%). Only 1.1% work as full-time paid employees (Table A1
(P4)). Due to the limited savings per household (Table A1
(P11)) prior to V2R, the people’s focus had been on daily tasks, leading to a potential discounting of the risks of future disasters, instead focusing on the day-to-day SL benefits [2
]. Cyclones, storm surges and tidal floods are seasonal disasters with adverse impacts remaining for at least 2–3 months. Much of the communities’ areas—or the entire location—is then under water, limiting sea fishing, wage labourers and retail businesses. Houses and animals can be washed out to sea while vast tracts of agricultural land can end up under saltwater, inhibiting its productivity. This level of livelihood fragility is the primary reason for persistent vulnerability within these communities.
To overcome this situation, sustainable secondary sources of household income can assist, so V2R focused on this issue. Now, the community people are more engaged in secondary livelihood activities (Figure 7
), such as poultry farming and cattle rearing.
Previously, 74.4% of people were not engaged in secondary income sources, but now this proportion has reduced to 6.7%. Having plans for alternative income sources is useful for achieving household level resilience [27
] and V2R has successfully implemented this activity for the two Bangladeshi communities.
The project has also provided disaster resilient tube-wells and sanitary latrines along with developing the internal road network (Figure 8
a–c). After tidal flooding and cyclone disasters, water-borne diseases had been breaking out because of the habit of open defecation and due to lack of availability of pure drinking water. These two problems have now been tackled. Additionally, government interventions like constructing cyclone shelters and repairing the embankment (Figure 8
d,e) are helping people in the communities to take shelter safely on time while relocating cattle to protect livelihoods. Agricultural production is increasing because of reducing the intrusion of saline water (Figure 8
e,f). The communities now have micro-groups and CDMCs and are better linked with external networks. Table 2
illustrates the changes in various indicators due to V2R and its implications for achieving the six characteristics of a safe and resilience community as defined by IFRC [25
]. Each indicator is contributing to fulfilling the objectives of multiple resilience characteristics. A flowchart of V2R’s community resilience and SL impacts is depicted in Figure 9
4.4. Resilience Characteristics—Field Validation
Just after the V2R project conclusion date on 30 April 2016, Cyclone Ruanu made landfall on the southern coast of Bangladesh on 21 May 2016. At least 30 people were killed and 700,000 people were affected as the storm surge and heavy rainfall (150–300 mm) damaged or destroyed around 80,000 houses and submerged paddy fields and standing crops [58
The local people from the two study communities here reported that Cyclone Ruanu caused the water level to rise by 1.5–2.0 m. About 46 m of the embankment in Nowapara broke and caused high tide water to flow into the study area. It flooded some households and the vast agricultural field (Figure 10
). The people managed to evacuate their households to the nearby cyclone shelters or other safer places by 8 p.m. on the day before the cyclone hit following warnings provided by the BDRCS. No deaths or injuries were reported and only a few thatched houses were destroyed, although most houses required some minor repairs. The communities were waterlogged for several days due to heavy rainfall and flooding from the Rabnabad Channel. The high tide did not wash away the sanitary latrines or damage the tube-wells, nor did it cause harm to cattle and poultry.
After a few days, people returned to their houses and continued their livelihoods. The ample supply of drinking water continued, as did the usability of the sanitary latrines. As the agricultural fields were inundated by saltwater, the farmers and day labourers are not yet able to continue cultivating the land. They are instead shifting livelihoods to fishing, as this is high time (rainy season) for sea fishing. To recover from the damage, they are focusing on repairing the embankment and damaged houses while providing support for growing rain-fed lowland rice in tidal saline water.
In 1970 and 1991, cyclones of similar strength killed more than 300,000 and 100,000 people, respectively, in Bangladesh. Then, over the last decade, two cyclones of similar strength, Sidr and Aila, hit Bangladesh’s coast, each killing two orders of magnitude fewer people than the earlier storms, many of whom were fishermen out at sea who did not return to land in time [59
]. Damage and losses from Cyclone Ruanu were substantially less than these earlier events. It is argued that this dramatic reduction in loss of human lives was possible due to an extensive DRR programme across the coastal region of Bangladesh [59
] to which V2R contributed amongst the myriad of local endeavours along the coast.
The two communities in this study have shown strong resilience characteristics through V2R supporting SL. The community people including the fishers evacuated safely before the cyclone struck, an action possible because of being highly connected to external organizations for warnings while being internally cohesive for coordinated, effective response. They received warnings in time, had completed associated training evacuating along safer routes to shelter, knew when to come back from sea while fishing, and were able to manage their properties before and after the evacuation. Due to V2R, after the cyclone, the communities could access safe drinking water, sanitary latrines, and other community necessities. All the households now have secondary sources of income, so some temporarily shifted livelihoods while rebuilding their primary income sources. In addition, it is expected that rice cultivation will soon start again, as a crop that can withstand the salinity and monsoon along the coast is available. V2R was tested soon after it finished, demonstrating community resilience and SL through connecting with DRR.
4.5. Critical Reflection
This article covers only community resilience as defined by the V2R implementers, IFRC [25
]. As per Figure 11
, resilience functions at multiple levels [25
] and various traits and definitions are not always fully accepted or explored in research or practice [11
]. Local government or policies undertaken by the national government can influence resilience at individual, household and community levels. For example, delays in embankment re-building can seriously affect community resilience and community resilience building. As well, the Government of Bangladesh plans to start constructing a new seaport (the Paira Bandar
seaport in Kalapara Upazila) at Rabnabad Channel. Therefore, some people in the two studied communities might experience forced eviction which would significantly change their livelihood patterns and undermine the work completed by V2R.
These multi-scalar processes and changes over which the communities have little control are a major limitation of V2R and IFRC’s resilient community characteristics. Although far from being exclusively created externally, vulnerabilities are often imposed from outside [11
] with little notice and little opportunity to counter them. Conversely, resiliences are not exclusively an intra-community matter, because national and international support systems are frequently assumed to exist and to be an inevitable part of a community dealing with disaster, such as remittances [61
] and national social safety nets. V2R and IFRC’s resilient community characteristics will not necessarily capture all such dimensions, depending how extensive the work is.
Meanwhile, other hazards and hazard drivers such as climate change, sea-level rise and tsunamis—along with social factors such as geopolitical unrest, economic recession, discrimination, inequality and corruption—continue to affect local vulnerabilities and resiliences. Although relocation is generally not preferred by the inhabitants, coastal Bangladesh will be seriously affected by climate change over the next decades, with elevated air and sea temperatures, sea-level rise, and more intense cyclones all threatening livelihoods and lives [40
]. Meanwhile, a devastating earthquake could easily strike across Bangladesh at any time, even before sea-level rise’s main effects are witnessed [64
]. In addition, population movements, geopolitical unrest, and inadequate governance have the potential to trigger various urban disasters [66
]. Therefore, achieving community resilience through SL in rural Bangladesh can be treated as a tool for urban governance and urban resilience as well.
In fact, achieving resilience at one level does not necessarily reduce vulnerability at other levels or overall. Building resilience and reducing vulnerability are iterative processes which cross scales [11
]. The complementarity of these actions was reflected in V2R and in the analyses, showing that vulnerability and resilience are not construed as being opposites in this work, instead expressing overlapping but different tracks of a community aiming to deal with disaster and disaster risk. Thus, the case studies and analysis here provide further empirical evidence and operational experience to overturn the viewpoint that vulnerability and resilience are opposite sides of the same coin. Despite the high vulnerabilities and multiple hazards along the coastal regions of Bangladesh, these locations also provide ample SL opportunities and demonstrate substantial resiliences [69
]. This mixed situation suggests that focusing at the local level only could not account for the complete picture of the community’s vulnerabilities and resiliences. Failure to achieve resilience at national and global levels (Figure 11
) would seriously hamper activities and projects at the community level, such as V2R.
V2R and the IFRC characteristics of a resilience community do not explicitly indicate at which scales efforts should most be focused or how to balance the cross-scalar characteristics of vulnerability and resilience. V2R does provide a solid baseline for understanding local contexts to ensure that at least the local scales of vulnerability and resilience are understood and addressed. Scope exists to apply V2R at other scales and to connect scales, perhaps then realising the potential of many suggestions regarding resilience which aim to close the theory-practice gap [24