The fundamental processes of policy shifts emphasize how policy problems emerge and how policy decisions are made to overcome previous shortcomings. In Bangladesh, flood management policies may also have been driven by policy failures and flood-disaster events. In this context, we examined how policy shifts occurred in the country from 1947 to 2019 in areas of water management and flood prevention, control, and risk mitigation. To understand the nature of these policy shifts, we examined the evolutionary processes of flood management policies, the associated drivers, and the roles of key actors. Our findings reveal that policy transitions were influenced primarily by the predominance of the structural intervention paradigm and by catastrophic flood events. Such transitions were nonlinear due to multiple interest groups who functioned as contributors to, as well as barriers against, flood prevention policies. Policy debates over environmental concerns helped bring about a shift from a primary focus on structural intervention to a mixed approach incorporating various nonstructural interventions. Furthermore, our results suggest that the shifts in flood management policies have resulted in some degree of reliance on a “people-centered” approach rather than solely an “engineering coalition”, which emphasizes the pivotal role of community members in decision making and the implementation of flood policies and programs.
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