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An empirical investigation of socio-economic resilience to natural disasters

Akter, Sonia and Mallick, Bishawjit (2013): An empirical investigation of socio-economic resilience to natural disasters.

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Abstract

This paper presents an empirical investigation of socio-economic resilience to natural disasters of a tropical cyclone-prone coastal community in Bangladesh. It applies the state-and-transition model, a widely used applied ecology model, to (1) assess the current state of socio-economic resilience to tropical cyclone, (2) identify its drivers and (3) examine its nexus with poverty and socio-economic vulnerability. The results of this study can be summarized into three key findings. First, tropical cyclones had significant negative medium-run impacts on coastal residents’ lives and livelihoods, particularly in terms of income, employment and access to clean water and sanitation. Second, the loss of productive assets, human capital shock, credit constraint and proximity to the forest reserve were the key factors explaining resilience heterogeneity across households. Finally, although the poor were the most vulnerable and suffered from relatively higher economic, physical and structural damage, they exhibited relatively better ability to cope and recover from the shock compared to the non-poor. These findings imply that the increased risk of tropical cyclone is likely to reduce income and standards of living among the tropical coastal communities. However, the burden of these adverse impacts is unlikely to be disproportionally borne by the poorer segment of the society.

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