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The link between social capital and disaster recovery: evidence from coastal communities in Bangladesh

Original Paper

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to explore the role social capital played in disaster coping and the recovery process among the southwest coastal villages of Bangladesh. Qualitative methods of data collection such as observation, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were carried out with individuals from several occupational groups in the two of most affected villages by cyclone Aila. The findings suggest that social capital played an instrumental role in personal, household and community recovery processes in the wake of the cyclone. In particular, the bonding and bridging social capital significantly helped the villagers from the emergency period to long-term recovery, while the benefits of linking social capital were reaped by only few individuals. It also shows that features of prevailing social structure—patronage networks and class hierarchy—paved the way to the misappropriation of the sizable amount of disaster relief and rehabilitation resources by local elites and to the channeling to the less affected households. This led to the erosion of bridging social capital of communities, and the reinforcement of unscrupulous linking social networks. These findings contribute both to the social capital literature as well as to formulating sustainable policy and programs for future disasters.

Keywords

Cyclone Aila Disaster coping and recovery Social structure Social capital Coastal villages of Bangladesh 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Data for this study were collected through a research grant from the University of Chittagong. We thank the participants of this research without whom this research never would have taken place, and the two anonymous reviewers, whose comments and suggestions have improved the article. The authors are also grateful to Md. Amanat Ullah for the assistance in preparation of the study area map. 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of ChittagongChittagongBangladesh
  2. 2.Geography, Environment and Population, School of Social SciencesThe University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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