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Good governance and local level policy implementation for disaster-risk-reduction: actual, perceptual and contested perspectives in coastal communities in Bangladesh

M. Salim Uddin (Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
C. Emdad Haque (Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
Mohammad Nuruzzaman Khan (Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 11 August 2020

Issue publication date: 12 March 2021




Despite Bangladesh's great strides in formulating disaster management policies following the principles of good governance, the degree to which these policies have successfully been implemented at the local level remains largely unknown. The objectives of this study were two-fold: (1) to examine the roles and effectiveness of local-level governance and disaster management institutions, and (2) to identify barriers to the implementation of national policies and Disaster-Risk-Reduction (DRR) guidelines at the local community level.


Between January 2014 and June 2015 we carried out an empirical investigation in two coastal communities in Bangladesh. We employed a qualitative research and Case Study approach, using techniques from the Participatory Rural Appraisal toolbox to collect data from local community members as well as government and NGO officials.


Our study revealed that interactive disaster governance, decentralization of disaster management, and compliance by local-level institutions with good governance principles and national policy guidelines can be extremely effective in reducing disaster-loss and damages. According to coastal community members, the local governments have generally failed to uphold good governance principles, and triangulated data confirm that the region at large suffers from rampant corruption, political favoritism, lack of transparency and accountability and minimal inclusion of local inhabitants in decision-making – all of which have severely impeded the successful implementation of national disaster-management policies.

Research limitations/implications

While considerable research on good governance has been pursued, our understanding of good disaster governance and their criteria is still poor. In addition, although numerous national disaster management policy and good governance initiatives have been taken in Bangladesh, like many other developing countries, the nature and extent of their local level implementation are not well known. This study contributes to these research gaps, with identification of further research agenda in these areas.

Practical implications

The study focuses on good disaster governance and management issues and practices, their strengths and limitations in the context of cyclone and storm surges along coastal Bangladesh. It offers specific good disaster governance criteria for improving multi-level successful implementation. The paper deals with International Sendai Framework that called for enhancement of local level community resilience to disasters. Thus, it contributes to numerous policy and practice areas relating to good disaster governance.

Social implications

Good disaster governance would benefit not only from future disaster losses but also from improved prevention and mitigation of natural hazards impact, benefiting society at large. Improvement in knowledge and practice in disaster-risk-reduction through good governance and effective management would ensure local community development and human wellbeing at the national level.


The failure of local-level government institutions to effectively implement national disaster management and resilience-building policies is largely attributable to a lack of financial and human resources, rampant corruption, a lack of accountability and transparency and the exclusion of local inhabitants from decision-making processes. Our study identified the specific manifestations of these failures in coastal communities in Bangladesh. These results underscore the vital need to address the wide gap between national DRR goals and the on-the-ground realities of policy implementation to successfully enhance the country's resilience to climate change-induced disasters.



The first author is indebted to an International Development Research Centre (Ottawa, Canada)'s (IDRC) Doctoral Research Award; SSHRC's Doctoral Fellowship; and a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship (UMGF) support. The authors are thankful to the community participants for their voluntary contributions to this study.Funding: This research was funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, InSight Grant (# 435-2018-552).


Uddin, M.S., Haque, C.E. and Khan, M.N. (2021), "Good governance and local level policy implementation for disaster-risk-reduction: actual, perceptual and contested perspectives in coastal communities in Bangladesh", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 94-111.



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