Social supremacy and its role in local level disaster mitigation planning in Bangladesh

Bishawjit Mallick (Institute of Regional Science (IfR), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany)
Joachim Vogt (Institute of Regional Science (IfR), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 8 November 2011



This paper aims to discuss issues related to disaster mitigation planning provisions in Bangladesh, one of the most disaster‐prone countries in Asia. It seeks to concentrate on the issues related to the role of local groups in establishing cyclone shelters.


In February 2008, a field study was conducted in the Southwest coastal region of Bangladesh. Combining the most recent empirical data, the location of cyclone shelters and the social supremacy structure are explored in this paper. Vulnerability due to infrastructure is defined here on the basis of available infrastructural facilities i.e. cyclone shelters, by using catchment area analysis in the geographical information system (GIS) software ArcGIS. The paper bases its argument on the assumption that the location of an infrastructure item like a cyclone shelter is dependent on the influential and motivational power of local elites and not on the necessity of the deprived people. Vulnerability, from this perspective, is interpreted in this study as a result of socio‐political supremacy in establishing cyclone shelters in coastal regions of Bangladesh.


The results indicate that locally supreme groups are located the closest to the cyclone shelter and may control local‐level disaster mitigation planning.

Research limitations/implications

The paper outlines the “social supremacy” concept based on one rural union and the communication rationalities of the general people. Both describe the ways of identification, the social spectrum of public interests as well as the decision‐making process in rural Bangladesh.


The paper contains valuable information regarding rural society and its socio‐political structure as well as planning problems in coastal Bangladesh.



Mallick, B. and Vogt, J. (2011), "Social supremacy and its role in local level disaster mitigation planning in Bangladesh", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 543-556.

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