Natural Hazards

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 405–421 | Cite as

Patterns of Coping and Adaptation Among Erosion-Induced Displacees in Bangladesh: Implications for Hazard Analysis and Mitigation

  • David Hutton
  • C. Emdad Haque


The purpose of this research was to identify social, culturaland psychological aspects of riverbank erosion-induced displacement in the flood plainsof Bangladesh. Although considerable research has examined the social and economicimpacts of riverine hazards in Bangladesh, there has been a general neglect of associatedpsychosocial implications. The specific objectives of the study were to: (1) assess hazardawareness in relation to riverbank erosion, (2) determine the magnitude of psychologicaldistress associated with displacement, and (3) identify patterns of psychosocial copingand adaptation common to displaced persons in Bangladesh. Although displacees were foundto have a significantly higher level of distress than non-displacees, this was relatedprimarily to socioeconomic deprivation rather than to displacement per se. The findingsof this study showed that the constant threat of riverbank erosion has contributed to asubstantial disaster subculture in the riverine zones of Bangladesh. The commonly hypothesized factorssuch as loss of land and frequency and duration of displacement were notsignificantly associated with distress levels.

The need to integrate into hazard analysis and mitigation studiesa social, cultural and psychological context is recommended. In Bangladesh, the poor copewith hardship and problems by relying on religion, which in turn significantlyinfluences how they perceive and interpret natural calamities. It is argued that the capacityof people to respond to environmental threats is a function of not only the physicalforces which affect them, but of indigenous social and cultural belief systems which influencehow people interpret and organize their activities. Hazard analysis and mitigation wouldbe most effective when it takes into account psychological and socio-cultural aspects ofdisasters, due to the fact that psychological distress impacts the capacity of people toachieve livelihoods, but also important social and psychological processes determine the waypeople perceive and adapt to natural hazards.

Bangladesh riverbank erosion involuntary displacement psychological coping and adjustment 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Hutton
    • 1
  • C. Emdad Haque
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Natural Resources InstituteUniversity of ManitobaCanada

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