Coping with Disasters
Bangladesh is a deltaic region, intersected by around 700
rivers of which the Padma, Meghna, and Jamuna are the most
significant. These rivers have influenced the economy,
geography, culture and civilization of the region for thousands
of years, creating what may be termed as an eternal bond
between human and rivers.
The rivers of Bangladesh are the lifeblood of the nations
economy particularly agriculture, fisheries and transport.
These rivers, however, are also considered among the most
unstable and destructive in the world. Sudden and dramatic
shifts in river courses cause recurrent riverbank erosion.
Every year, over one million people are affected by riverbank
erosion that damage their crops, kill their livestock and
destroy their homes. During floods, overflow of river waters
create huge loses and sufferings. Livelihoods are washed
away, uprooting people from the areas where they have been
living for centuries leaving them in poverty. These socially and
economically dislocated and marginalised river-victims often
have to take shelter where livelihood opportunities and basic
services, such as water, sanitation, health and education are
minimal or non-existent. Resettlement and restoring the
livelihoods of displaced communities have been a long
development discourse; and appropriate and integrated
interventions what are crucially required.
Gaibandha, located in the North-West of Bangladesh at the
meeting point of the rivers Tista and Brahmaputra, is one of
the most erosion-prone areas. Through its award-winning
`Disappearing lands: supporting communities affected by
river erosion’ project, Practical Action Bangladesh helped
20,000 poor families victimised by riverbank erosion. A
number of innovative initiatives were undertaken in the
course of the project, both in terms of infrastructure
development and of the livelihood alternatives which
successfully contributed in improving the incomes and well
being of thousands of poor women and men. It is also likely
that millions of others who live on the edge of the major rivers
in Bangladesh will benefit from interventions and policy
changes in the areas of livelihood diversification, disaster
management, housing infrastructure, climate change
adaptation and food security, to which this project made
some important contribution.
This book contains series of photographs with short notes
depicting some project interventions. These photos were
taken by the staff-members of the project throughout the
project course, both from Practical Action and partner
organisations who genuinely worked hard in making the
project a great success.
We would like to thank Big Lottery Fund of UK for its generous
financial support to the project. We also thank UK-based
trusts and individuals including Galanthus, Gemini, PJK,
Stemcor Ltd. South Hall, and BP Glasser for their generous
support to the project. Finally, our sincere thanks also go to
the government and non-government entities, including our
partners for their valuable contribution to the project.
Practical Action Bangladesh
Published in March 2010. Published by Practical Action Bangladesh, House 12B, Road 4, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205.
Phone: 8650439, 9675236, 9675243, Fax: 9674340, E-mail: email@example.com
About Practical Action
“Find out what they are doing and help them to do it better. Study their needs and
help them to help themselves.”
Practical Action (former Intermediate Technology
Development Group-ITDG) was founded by eminent
economist and philosopher Ernst Fritz Schumacher in
1966. It started with a small group of dedicated people,
deeply inspired and influenced by the powerful and
convincing ideas of Schumacher. His philosophy and ideals,
published more than four decades ago, criticised and
challenged western ideals of the pursuit for wealth and
material progress. According to his views, the rapid
scientific and technological progress of the west has
resulted in wealth differentials, waste of resources,
environmental pollution and degradation. He first proposed
the idea of intermediate technology or "technology with a
more human face" as an alternative to solve the problems
faced by people today. Schumacher appealed for
appropriate methods and techniques that are affordable
and accessible to everyone, compatible, with nature and
human creativity at the same time using indigenous
knowledge, local labour and resources.
His philosophy “Small is Beautiful” highly emphasized a
view to remind people that the universal acceptance of
gigantism and large scalism, needed to be counter balanced
by small and effective ways of working and producing.
Stimulated by these values and thinking, Practical Action
has been working towards reducing poverty in developing
countries through offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka,
Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Peru.
Practical Action envisions a world free of poverty and
injustice in which technology is used to the benefit of all.
Practical Action aims to help eradicate poverty in
developing countries by developing and using technology,
and by demonstrating results, sharing knowledge and
Practical Action's programmes are established in four broader areas known as Aims. They are:
Reducing vulnerability and natural resource management: with the objectives to strengthen the ability of poor people
to use technology to cope with threats from natural disasters, environmental degradation and civil conflict.
Making markets work for poor: to enable poor people to use technologies to build secure livelihoods, through improved
systems of production, processing and marketing.
Improving access to useful services, systems and structures: to improve the access of poor women and men to locally
managed infrastructure services.
Responding to new technology: to enable poor people to assess and respond to the challenges of new technologies and
to develop and adopt applications that improve their livelihoods.
Practical Action in Bangladesh
Practical Action started working in Bangladesh in the early 1980s in response to request from a number of prominent
national NGOs. In 1990, the Bangladesh Country Office was formally established with its head office in Dhaka. From
1997, Practical Action began directly implementing programmes initially in five neighbouring district of greater
Faridpur. Additionally, the organisation started working with partner NGOs in other parts of the country.
Practical Action works with vulnerable poor women and men directly, and indirectly through local intermediary
organisations providing with technical support, inputs or services to poor communities.