Household Disaster Resilience Assessment, Bagerhat District, Bangladesh, January 2020

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Patrick Vinck, Sarah Ferguson, Vincenzo Bollettino



Acknowledging the contextual nature of household disaster resilience, HHI’s Program on Resilient Communities is undertaking the development of a measurement framework and, ultimately, a disaster resilience scorecard, to periodically assess progress toward disaster resilience for households exposed to both sudden and slow onset shocks, including natural disasters and effects from climate change. Building on field research and the rich set of global efforts aimed at measuring resilience, we propose that household-level disaster resilience is achieved when:

(1) households are able to access and use quality services, resources, and information;

(2) households can rely on effective social support and safety nets;

(3) households take steps to learn, prepare and adapt before and after disasters; and (4) individuals and households are empowered and believe in their ability to cope and adapt to shocks.

These four capabilities (see Table 1) are commonly understood elements of resilience but remain highly abstract concepts. Operationalizing measurements associated with each of these elements leads to a set of less complex, more measurable concepts, which can ultimately be included in a resilience scorecard. The process of operationalization, however, is highly contextual. Because there are significant differences in the nature and dynamics of household resilience across contexts, establishing a single global, or even regional, scorecard is likely to be ineffective.

For example, the ways in which support systems and safety nets manifest themselves vary greatly within and across countries, and such differences may not be captured in a universal scorecard. As such, operationalizing these abstract concepts requires local engagement with communities whose resilience is measured to identify appropriate indicators.

HHI, together with its partner Concern Worldwide, utilized local engagement to develop a series of preliminary indicators for a baseline assessment of household resilience in coastal Bangladesh. The baseline assessment was in support of a project led by Concern Worldwide to strengthen coastal community resilience in Bagerhat district, Bangladesh. With support from Concern Worldwide, we organized a series of participatory exercises with community members to identify key indicators to include in a first baseline assessment. This report presents the results of that assessment. Building on these results, we propose in the final chapter of this report a reduced set of indicators that can be usefully monitored to track progress toward household resilience over time.