05 September 2017

CEPSA Research Briefs Explore Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction in Pakistan and Bangladesh

The Strauss Center’s Complex Emergencies and Political Stability in Asia (CEPSA) program has released two new research briefs co-authored by CEPSA disaster preparedness researchers Jennifer Bussell and Sabhanaz Rashid Diya.

Methodologically, Bangladesh and Pakistan serve as case studies in analyzing disaster preparedness. Based on quantitative analysis, the report discusses government capacity to prepare for and respond to natural disasters – floods, earthquakes, heat waves, or cyclones – in the two countries respectively. Three main topics are considered in both studies: the history and character of natural hazards in the respective country, the current status of preparedness initiatives, with particular attention to progress on the priorities laid out by the Hyogo Framework for Actions, and evaluation of potential explanations for these outcomes.

Disaster Preparedness in Pakistan

Findings suggest now that Pakistan has strong institutionalized responses, disaster management can definitively be considered a national and local priority. However, the Pakistani government needs to invest heavily in strengthening and including civil society, as well as building local capacities to be able to prepare to natural disaster. The researchers find that partnering with private sector and external actors is  a creative way to overcome the lack of economic resources. Furthermore, a change in narrative is necessary to highlight the importance of disaster preparedness over disaster management. The centralization of power and budgeting around disaster management creates ineffective and inefficient processes, which can delay aid and exacerbate challenges during disasters.

Disaster Preparedness in Bangladesh

In practice, the Government of Bangladesh has implemented disaster preparedness and risk reduction through the lens of poverty alleviation. Therefore, much of the country’s efforts in tackling natural disasters rest heavily on the economic empowerment of its population and social safety net programs, instead of building institutional capacity.

Bangladesh has managed to established an early warning system based on technology advancement and a wide network of local communities and volunteers. However, a lack of integration between national and international institutions as well as overreliance on the military and cash disbursement can hinder disaster risk reduction. Other obstacles that disallow the significant shift from response to preparedness stem from corruption and misallocation of funds, such as deforestation or uncontrolled urbanization.

Additional CEPSA Research Briefs are available here.