Are there lessons that can be learnt from Bangladesh and Cuba that can increase American coastal communities’ resilience to flooding?

Lumbroso, D. and Suckall, N. and Nicholls, R. and White, K. (2017) Are there lessons that can be learnt from Bangladesh and Cuba that can increase American coastal communities’ resilience to flooding? In: ICFM7, 5-7 September 2017, Leeds, UK.

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Over the past decade, the US Gulf Coast has been hit by a series of major hurricanes, including Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Ike and Sandy which have led to coastal flooding and fatalities, as well as significant economic losses. In the USA over the past 60 years the disparity between the rich and poor has increased, with the poorest people becoming increasing physically and socially isolated. These isolated households often have limited social networks to call upon in times of emergency reducing their resilience to natural hazards such as coastal floods. In many coastal states, such as Florida and Georgia, it is expected that coastal populations will have increased by up to 20% by 2020. This increase, which will mainly comprise people of retirement age, coupled with increasing sea-levels, will make American coastal communities increasingly vulnerable to coastal flood events. Some states, such as Georgia, have not experienced an extreme coastal surge for more than 100 years. A recent survey found that less than one quarter of Georgians living on the coast were very concerned about hurricanes and many people living in low lying areas did not believe their homes could flood. Despite their relative lack of resources the resilience of communities to coastal floods in Cuba and Bangladesh has increased via a range of measures including: improving the comprehensibility and effectiveness of warnings; building social capital; increasing the levels of trust in organisations responsible for issuing warnings and coordinating the emergency response; and methods of providing education in disaster risk reduction at primary through to tertiary level institutions. Despite financial challenges, both Cuba and Bangladesh have made significant progress in reducing deaths, as well as ensuring that people are able to maintain their livelihoods following tropical cyclones and coastal flood events. This paper looks at how the resilience of disadvantaged and isolated American coastal communities to floods could be increased based on the success of strategies and measures employed in Bangladesh and Cuba, where governments face significant financial constraints in providing infrastructure to protect populations from severe storms. Between 2003 and 2011, there were almost 20 times fewer deaths per million people at risk in in Cuba than in the USA as a result of hurricanes and coastal floods and in Bangladesh the number of fatalities from cyclones has reduced by two orders of magnitude over the past 25 years. This paper will investigate if the lessons learnt in Bangladesh and Cuba can be applied in the USA. It will also discuss why there needs to be a recognition of the importance of social capital and community self-sufficiency and how these can be encouraged and measures can be designed to leverage it in the context of future coastal flood events.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: 7th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM7)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bangladesh; coastal flooding; Cuba; resilience; USA
Subjects: Floods > General
Divisions: Floods
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2020 09:53
Last Modified: 29 May 2020 07:43

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