Improved flood protection in Bangladesh

The most densely populated country in the world is minimising the impacts of climate change.

Again and again, Tahmina from Patuakhali has seen her livelihood swept away by natural disasters. She used to work as a day labourer before spending her savings on opening up a small store. In 2007, a cyclone reduced the store and all the stock to rubble. No sooner had she rebuilt her life with the help of a loan than heavy storm floods hit the city. The 35-year-old mother survived, but once again she found herself starting from scratch, with debts to pay and dependent on handouts.

Patuakhali lies south-west of the capital Dhaka. A network of rivers drain the region, emptying out into the Bay of Bengal. Hemmed in by the ocean on one side and the glaciers of the Himalayas on the other, Bangladesh feels the effects of climate change more acutely than almost any other country.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is supporting state disaster management in the country. We are working with the Government of Bangladesh, NGOs and municipalities to build embankments and plant trees, thereby reducing the impact of future natural disasters. Rescue and escape routes have been improved by building roads in a catchment area that is home to over 200,000 people. Around 1,600 volunteers have taken part in first aid and water rescue courses to date, and 95,000 people have received instruction in cyclone warning signals and disaster prevention.

As recently as May of this year, a tropical cyclone once again struck the coast of Bangladesh. More than 200,000 people received advance warning of the impending disaster via megaphones, radios and signal flags. Thousands of people, including Tahmina and her family, made it through the storm unscathed. Today, people in the region can build more stable houses by making use of start-up funding for small businesses. That means they’re better prepared for natural disasters – this time Tahmina’s store remained standing.