People in Bangladesh are threatened by multiple risks, e.g. floods and salinisation.

Safeguarding livelihoods and protecting life

Resilience describes the ability of people or communities to cope with shocks such as natural disasters or system changes. The objective is to minimise damages. Ideally, having overcome the situation, individuals and communities emerge with renewed strength.

Gibika is the Bengali word for subsistence or livelihood. We wish to focus our work on the strengthening of Gibika. This means providing opportunities for people in at-risk communities in Bangladesh to develop their own ideas and a secure income through their own efforts. This is very difficult, particularly in very poor communities, because employment opportunities are often limited, and external shocks can easily result in severe damage to the already fragile infrastructure.

For example, large portions of the rural population are dependent on agriculture. Droughts, floods, or the salinisation of soils can cause immense damage and often have a two-fold impact on poor communities in that crops fail, and the food supply for families is endangered. Surpluses can no longer be sold, and as a result, income quickly decreases. Young people are then drawn to the cities to find other sources of income. In the following year, there is a scarcity of valuable agricultural workers. The community gradually becomes even more vulnerable.

Gibika wishes to start by exploring and, if possible, strengthening the variability of livelihood opportunities. At the same time, local communities, with the project partners, will develop tools to improve their response to shocks. Gibika has four main objectives for accomplishing this:

  • Research into resilience with respect to livelihoods taking into account various regional risks
  • Motivating local communities to develop solutions and proposals with the project partners
  • Financial support for the implementation of solutions under the leadership of municipalities
  • Evaluating the programme and replicating it in other communities

Outlook:
In 2014, representatives of the selected communities will be involved in investigating which risks predominate. These could include natural hazards such as droughts, cyclones or erosion, as well as man-made hazards such as population pressure, overgrazing, over-exploitation of land, or workforce emigration. On the basis of actual cases, a determination is then made as to whether there are already attempts being made to combat the risks. Experiences from other regions can provide valuable insights. Our local project partner, ICCCAD, is well-connected in the country. Cooperation with local institutions is of great importance to the sustainable success of our project.

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MRF definition "Resilience":
Resilience is the ability of individuals, groups and institutions to withstand shocks or chronic stress caused by fragile situations, crises, violent conflict or natural events, and to recover and adapt quickly without compromising their medium and longer-term livelihood prospects. Resilient stakeholders are characterized by their absorption capacity, adaptation capacity and transformation capacity.

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CB, 05 May 2014

Disaster Prevention

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> Christian Barthelt

> Thomas Loster

 

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Links to partner organisations

> ICCCAD

> UNU-EHS