Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh: Damage, loss, and needs assessment for disaster recovery and reconstruction


Executive Summary

On 15 November 2007, Cyclone Sidr struck the south-west coast of Bangladesh with winds up to 240 kilometers per hour. The category 4 storm was accompanied by tidal waves up to five meters high and surges up to 6 meters in some areas, breaching coastal and river embankments, flooding low-lying areas and causing extensive physical destruction. High winds and floods also caused damage to housing, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Electricity and communication were knocked out, and roads and waterways became impassable. Drinking water was contaminated by debris and many sources were inundated with saline water from tidal surges, and sanitation infrastructure was destroyed.

The cyclone was the second natural disaster to affect Bangladesh in twelve months. Monsoon floods had previously caused extensive agricultural production losses and destruction of physical assets, totaling near US$ 1.1 billion. The occurrence of these events in close succession is a reminder of the country's extreme vulnerability to frequent hydro-meteorological hazards, which stand to be further exacerbated because of climate change.

Damage and Losses

Damage and loss from Cyclone Sidr was concentrated on the southwest coast of Bangladesh. Four of Bangladesh's thirty districts were classified as "severely affected" and a further eight were classified as "moderately affected". Of the 2.3 million households affected to some degree by the effects of Cyclone Sidr, about one million were seriously affected.

The number of deaths caused by Sidr is estimated at 3,406, with 1,001 still missing, and over 55,000 people sustaining physical injuries. Improved disaster prevention measures, including an improved forecasting and warning system, coastal afforestation projects, cyclone shelters, and embankments are credited with lower casualty rates than what would have been expected, given the severity of the storm. Most of the destruction and related social and economic losses resulted from the harsh storm conditions and the subsequent failure of an extensive embankment system.

In the wake of Cyclone Sidr, the Government of Bangladesh, together with international experts, undertook a comprehensive damage and loss, and needs assessments to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the storm, and to define a comprehensive and feasible recovery plan. The Joint Damage, Loss, and Needs Assessment (JDNLA) estimated the total damage and losses caused by the cyclone to be Bangladesh Taka (BDT) 115.6 billion (US$ 1.7 billion).