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Harvard Humanitarian Initiative supports disaster resilience in Bangladesh

  • Published at 12:10 pm July 8th, 2020
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Representational photo Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

HHI provided leadership training to coastal community leaders and disaster management professionals in Bagerhat

With the mission to empower communities in crisis globally, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) has expanded its humanitarian research and training programs in Bangladesh.

The expansion has been done particularly in Bagerhat district where coastal communities are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“HHI’s research in the area helped to identify factors that contribute to disaster resilience as well as a network map of actors engaged in climate change adaptation that reveals important information about strengths and gaps in the services provided to these communities,” said HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino in a statement.

A press release was sent to Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday where Bollettino said: “Evidence-based research that highlights community factors contributing to resilience is critical for supporting these communities and for disseminating knowledge to other communities, positioned to benefit from this knowledge.”

Supporting disaster resilience in Southeast Asia

HHI, Harvard University’s humanitarian research center established in 2005, employs a mix of evidence-based practice and collaborative research to support disaster preparedness practices throughout Southeast Asia.

In the Philippines, one of the countries most vulnerable to disasters, HHI ensures its education and training programs on disaster and climate resilience are informed by empirical data and tailored to the preparedness needs of at-risk populations.

In Bangladesh, it partnered with international humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide and local NGO Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS). The collaboration primarily aimed to support coastal community resilience in Bagerhat.

Since 2018, HHI has been providing direct support to Concern Worldwide and JJS on research and training to ensure a strong foundation for its work in the country,

HHI augmented its partners’ capacity with training exercises designed to develop research tools that are sensitive to the context of Bangladesh.

Eventually, the dynamic partnership led to the production of a disaster resilience scorecard for Concern Worldwide to periodically assess the levels of resilience among local households.

The initial launch of the scorecard in 2019 studied the disaster preparedness of people living in Mongla and Sharonkhola upazilas.

HHI also designed and implemented a network analysis survey in Bagerhat that was simultaneously conducted in the Philippines. The network analysis survey in Bangladesh presents key findings around aid localization, collaboration and engagement patterns, and actor dominance within the local disaster risk reduction (DRR) network.

With this successful collaboration, HHI published a report serving as guidance to future academia-NGO partnerships for engaging local communities.

The findings of these studies will be shared with DRR actors, community leaders, policy makers, and the media to hopefully help improve DRR programming in the country.

Moreover, HHI also provided leadership training to coastal community leaders and disaster management professionals in Bagerhat, in cooperation with JJS.

HHI continues to develop disaster preparedness and response expertise in order to drive innovation in Asia. Globally, HHI’s work explores issues critical to communities affected by crises.

Aside from disaster resilience, it also focuses on humanitarian negotiation, gender-based violence, program evaluation, and the ethical use of data in humanitarian settings.