22. September | 2016

Cyclone – Migration – Adaptation Nexus in the Social Context of Bangladesh

IRS Seminar with Dr. Bishawjit Mallick

Climatologists predict an increase in the frequency and intensity of cyclone disasters in tropical regions, particularly in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, effects of weather and climate events on societies might depend not only on the type and strength of the hazards, but also on the livelihood conditions of those affected. Accordingly, this presentation considers the following research questions:

  • How do coastal communities in Bangladesh perceive, react and adapt to a cyclone disaster, and why do they act so?
  • Which role do migration and non-migration play in recovering devastated livelihoods, and which lessons can be learned here for future adaptation planning?

To answer these questions, a mixed method (quantitative and qualitative) approach of empirical investigation was employed.  Based on a structured questionnaire, face-to-face interviews with 1555 households from 45 cyclone-affected communities have been conducted. Expert interviews and focus group discussions were also conducted to fill the information gaps that were not covered and/or collected in the household survey.
Results show that (i) external interventions (relief and rehabilitation supports to the cyclone victims) are politicized and networked locally, which intensifies the process of social marginalization, inhibits population displacements and destabilizes the societal structure; (ii) the existing planning practices are a symbol of power exercises in the decision-making process of planning; (iii) the practices of seasonal labour migration and switching to another occupation are the best alternatives in order to stay behind instead of permanently migrating to a sub-standard slum environment in a city.
These findings have policy relevance for future adaptation planning in Bangladesh, and also for similar regions.


Bishawjit Mallick has a PhD in Regional Science (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany). In his PhD thesis, published in 2014 with KIT Publishing House, he explores the societal changes in a regime of increasing climatic events, particularly he focuses on the cyclone affected coastal communities in southwest Bangladesh. He identifies the manifestation of patron-client-relationship in the society as a consequence of imminent flow of external aid and its relevance to spatial planning. In addition, he explains disaster induced migration and its consequences to the society as major findings. Bishawjit is interested in the political economy of non-migration in context of climate change adaptation (why don’t the people at risk migrate, and how do they survive at a vulnerable environment?) and the role of their short-term migration in shaping long-term non-migration. Currently, his research focus is on the qualitative assessment of the effects and the effectiveness of migrated livelihood as well as the quantification of the effects on their livelihood.Prior to joining IRS- Leibniz Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning as visiting fellow in August 2016, he held a lecturer position at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (Institute of Regional Science) and a position as research fellow with Vanderbilt University, USA (Integrated Social, Environment Change Project in Bangladesh).

About the event

Thursday, 22. September 2016
14:00 bis 16:00
Pavilion, Leibniz Institute
for Research on Society and Space

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