This case study on domestic response examines how the Bangladesh government, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organisations, affected communities, individuals and the Diaspora respond when disasters hit their country. The analysis framework is comparable with the Ugandan domestic response case study and focuses on the sources, types, volumes and triggers of domestic response, how resources are targeted and the impact of such assistance. The study was conducted by a team of Bangladeshi researchers which included independent consultants and members of the Bangladesh NGO Sushilan.
Immediate and prompt response contributed by the community itself – such as delivery of early warning messages, rescue and shelter followed by provision of food and drinking water for immediate survival – was valued most by the affected community. Such assistance was provided by neighbours, relatives, the local elite, the mosque, the local administration and local NGOs and CBOs. While the benefits of different domestic assistance did vary according to the different needs of affected individuals, the assistance which came early, even if it was small, was most valued.
Civil society organisations play an important role in disaster response as do faith-based institutions. In cyclone affected areas, loud speakers of the mosques were extensively used to deliver early-warning messages and members of the mosque helped in evacuation. Mosques were also an important source of psychosocial support.
Private sector contributions remain one-off with charitable contributions often coming from salaries of staff. A donation of one day’s salary during the floods or any other calamity is a common gesture in Bangladesh and contributions from business enterprises and employees are often donated to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
In view of the importance of remittance flow in Bangladesh economy, it seems reasonable to assume its high role in disaster response but neither remittance data nor the evidence from the field supports this view. Aggregated data suggest there are peaks in remittances during festival and religious holidays while all four study areas had a very low concentration of remittance receiving households as the disaster-prone areas are also the most poverty-stricken.