Bangladesh Climate and Disaster Risk Atlas: Exposures, Vulnerabilities and Risks – Volume II (December 2021) – Bangladesh


Technical summary


Bangladesh, considered the largest delta in the world, is a riparian country very vulnerable to climatic, meteorological and geophysical hazards due to its topography and geographic location. Bangladesh’s topography can be described as low and flat, with more than half of the land at an elevation of less than 6 meters above mean sea level and crossed by the main drainage systems of the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna.
The Bay of Bengal to the south, the Indo-Burmese range to the east and the Barind Trail to the northwest have contributed to the persistence of natural hazards in Bangladesh for centuries. The country has long been exposed to various climatic hazards (eg drought), hydrometeorology (eg cyclones, storm surges, floods) and other geophysical hazards (eg landslides and erosion). Its funnel-shaped south coast makes it vulnerable to cyclones and storm surges, medium to high soil salinity levels and sea level rise. The Barind Trail on the north and north sides East Bangladesh also experiences frequent droughts. Because it is the largest delta in the world, with the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna river systems flowing to the Bay of Bengal, much of the land area of ​​Bangladesh suffers from frequent flooding, in particularly flash floods accompanied by river erosion. In addition, the eastern regions of Bangladesh, comprising the Sylhet and Chattogram Divisions, are prone to earthquakes, landslides and flash floods. Map II.1 shows the main hazards in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s potential to support its development faces significant challenges posed by climate change with risks to life, infrastructure and the economy. This can exacerbate the country’s development problems and increase pressure on the key resources needed to support growth (Ahmed 2006). Understanding climate and other hazard scenarios and how these present risks or provide opportunities for preparedness, adaptation and transformation of different sectors can significantly improve the resilience of society. Undoubtedly, the need to integrate climate resilience into development planning and decision-making processes has become increasingly evident and is rapidly establishing itself as a major political agenda.

The central idea of ​​mainstreaming is that climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are implemented as part of a larger package of measures within existing development processes and decision cycles. This differs from stand-alone adaptation whereby new activities are formulated and implemented with the expressed aim of addressing vulnerability to climate change. Activities aimed at increasing economic growth and development are often linked, both directly and indirectly, to the impacts of climate change. With this in mind, government planners should focus on supporting the process of mainstreaming climate resilience into national development planning, including designing monitoring and evaluation frameworks based on existing capacities.

Bangladesh’s population was estimated at 162.7 million in July 2017 and the population density was approximately 1,103 people per square kilometer (Bureau of Bangladesh Statistics 2020). Most of the population depends on agricultural activities for their livelihood and relies heavily on water resources. These same sectors are highly exposed to climatic and geophysical hazards and have limited resilient measures and weak infrastructure. Understanding climate and disaster risk scenarios and how these pose threats or provide opportunities to different socio-economic sectors can dramatically improve the resilience of society in Bangladesh.


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