Livelihoods under pressure: insights from riverine community in Bangladesh

Publication Name

Asian Geographer


Rivers in the Bengal Delta are highly dynamic and characterized by bank erosion and channel shifting. Recurring erosion displaces nearby communities and climate change related impacts multiply the vulnerability of the displaced people. This study aims to evaluate the livelihood vulnerability of riparian communities with their spatial distribution of Bangladesh. It also investigates the socio-demographic characteristics of the vulnerable community and assesses their resilience capacity. A mixed-method research design has been applied that includes surveys and group discussions. The 150-household survey was conducted purposively from five administrative units of the Shariatpur district along the Padma River. Two vulnerability index methods, considering three major factors–households’ exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity–are adopted to evaluate and compare the vulnerability of these five units. Seven components (comprising twenty-five sub-components) are adopted to index these three factors. Three of the five administrative units are identified as highly vulnerable with index values of 0.494, 0.478 and 0.438. Low adaptive capacity and resilience are attributed to financial insolvency, weak social capital, not owning land, poor access to education, and the absence of social safety-net programs. High sensitivity is determined by food insecurity, the number of vulnerable groups, a high dependency ratio, little access to safe drinking water, limited healthcare facilities, unhygienic sanitation, and so forth. High exposure is delineated by the degree of erosion vulnerability, displacement, and loss of property and livelihood. The indexing of livelihood vulnerability suggests that the approach and its possesses have replicability in locations with similar vulnerabilities and impacts.

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