Natural Hazards

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 1707–1727 | Cite as

How do links between households and NGOs promote disaster resilience and recovery?: A case study of linking social networks on the Bangladeshi coast

  • Rabiul Islam
  • Greg Walkerden
Original Paper


Households’ links with NGOs are an important support for disaster resilience and recovery in Bangladesh. Previous studies have examined how social capital promotes disaster recovery. However, few explore the complexities of linking social networks and, in particular, the role of NGOs, after disasters. Through a case study of Cyclone Sidr—2007 affected two coastal villages of Bangladesh, using household surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews, this study examines when these linking networks perform well and poorly. NGOs provide strong support through immediate relief (food, water, medicine, household utensils), shelter (building materials, new houses), and livelihood assistance (microcredit, cropping seeds, livestock, fishing boats, and nets). However, this catalyzes relief dependency also, NGOs generally favour households they lend to, sometimes demand normal repayments continue even though a disaster has occurred, and often take bribes when they are distributing livelihood assistance to households. We suspect many Bangladeshi NGOs focus on relief activities rather than preparedness, because post-disaster relief provides significant opportunities for financial irregularities, as the cash flows (donor support) are relatively large. Instead, NGOs should increase their emphasis on disaster risk reduction, providing more robust housing and fostering alternative livelihood options rather relief centric activities, because households’ have a strong preference for empowerment and resilience, rather than relief dependency.


Social capital Linking social networks Disaster resilience and recovery Cyclone Sidr Bangladesh coast 



The authors are grateful to Macquarie University, Australia, for support with an International Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship. Special thanks to the disaster practitioners and policy-makers, Upazilla Nirbahi Officer and Cyclone Preparedness Program, Patharghata, the local NGOs, and the Charduani Union Parishad for their kind support during fieldwork between February and July 2013.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkUniversity of RajshahiRajshahiBangladesh

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