How do links between households and local government promote disaster resilience and recovery? –a case study of linking social networks on the Bangladeshi coast (12844)
Households’ links with local government are an important support for disaster resilience and recovery in the Bangladeshi coast. In Bangladesh, Local Government (Union Parishad-UP) representatives - chairmen and members - are directly elected. Previous studies in Bangladesh have examined how social capital promotes disaster resilience and recovery. However, few explore the complexities of linking social networks, and in particular the role of local government, after disasters. By using household surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews, this study examines when Union Parishad, performs strongly and poorly in disaster resilience and recovery, using two coastal villages affected by Cyclone Sidr as case studies. The findings show that Union Parishad provides strong support through immediate relief distribution (food, water, medicine), shelter (repairing damaged houses, providing cash for new buildings, and materials for partially damaged houses), and livelihood assistance (crop seeds, fishing and farming equipment), emergency and recovery information, reconstruction of major community services (roads, sanitation, drinking water, health), etc. However, while providing this support, Union Parishad representatives sometimes engage in corruption - through favouritism (prioritizing the people of their own political group) and taking bribes. This malpractice fosters inequality and discontent, and mistrust between people (households) and local government leaders, which, in the long run, affects linking relationships generally. We argue, Union Parishad should emphasize disaster risk reduction to build community capacity, not simply disaster relief (in which cash flows are relatively large), and rebuild trust through fair distribution of relief goods. To support this, the national government should allocate a regular budget to Union Parishad to strengthen local capacity for disaster resilience and recovery.