Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. Cyclone disasters that affect millions of people, destroy homesteads and livelihoods, and trigger migration are common in the coastal region of Bangladesh. The aim of this article is to understand how the coastal communities in Bangladesh deal with the continuous threats of cyclones. As a case study, this study investigates communities that were affected by the Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and Cyclone Aila in 2009, covering 1555 households from 45 coastal villages in the southwestern region of Bangladesh. The survey method incorporated household based questionnaire techniques and community based focus group discussions. The pre-event situation highlights that the affected communities were physically vulnerable due to the strategic locations of the cyclone shelters nearer to those with social supreme status and the location of their houses in relatively low-lying lands. The victims were also socio-economically vulnerable considering the high rate of illiteracy, larger family size, no ownership of land, and extreme poverty. They were mostly day labourers, farmers, and fishermen. Post-event situation reveals that the victims’ houses and livelihoods were severely damaged or destroyed. Most victims were forced to shift their occupations (e.g., from farmers to fishermen), and many became unemployed. They also became heavily dependent on micro-credits and other forms of loans. A significant number of people were displaced and migrated to large urban agglomerations in search of livelihoods to maintain their families back in the affected villages. Migration was primarily undertaken as an adaptation strategy.
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