Housing practices and livelihood challenges in the hazard-prone contested spaces of rural Bangladesh

Shakil Bin Kashem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Disaster-resistant housing practices are widely promoted in developing countries as an integral component of climate adaptation efforts, particularly in rural hazard-prone areas. However, how the prevailing housing practices are intertwined with rural livelihoods and how the external initiatives to promote disaster-resistant housing practices materialize in a contested marginalized space are key questions with social vulnerability implications that seldom receive adequate attention. This paper aims to explore these questions through case studies of two hazard-prone rural areas in Bangladesh. Design/methodology/approach: The two study areas were selected considering the variation of risk patterns: one located in cyclone hazard-prone southern District of Noakhali and the other located in a flood hazard-prone area of Rajbari District. Existing housing practices in these two communities, their adoption of disaster-resistant housing options and their overall livelihood challenges were explored through questionnaire surveys, focus group discussions and transect walks. Findings: As this study shows, safe housing practices are tertiary concerns for people living in those contested spaces after meeting livelihood challenges. Further, in the absence of formal land tenure, adaptation efforts that introduce disaster-resistant housing practices may fail to be effective. Practical implications: The findings of this study demonstrate the need for a reorientation in the present approaches of climate adaptation (particularly, in case of housing practice) to make them more responsive to the adaptation challenges of socially vulnerable populations. Originality/value: Most of the prior studies on disaster and rural housing have focused on the post-disaster housing recovery, but there is yet to have enough study that looked at households’ current housing strategies and, in particular, how land tenure and livelihood challenges influence their choices. This study fills this research gap and also provides evidence in support of considering the risk priority of marginalized vulnerable population while responding to the broader concerns of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-434
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 11 2019


  • Bangladesh
  • Climate adaptation
  • Livelihood
  • Natural hazards
  • Rural housing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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