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Understanding Institutional Changes for Reducing Vulnerability to Landslides in Chittagong City, Bangladesh

Ineffective hill management policy at the national level and weak enforcement by the local authorities has created space for developing many informal settlements along landslide prone hill slopes in Chittagong city, Bangladesh. These settlements are considered illegal by the formal authorities, the settlers perceive their presence in those areas as legal occupants, which have caused land tenure conflicts with formal authorities over the last decades.

The continual land tenure conflict has weakened institutional arrangement for reducing vulnerability to landslides in the informal settlements. The thesis paper is prepared based on the findings of a case study on the landslides which occurred in 2007 in Chittagong city.

The fieldwork of the study was carried out using qualitative tools such as individual interviewing of organizational respondents and a focus group interview in Matijarna informal settlement to examine what institutional changes have occurred for reducing social vulnerability of informal settlers to landslides in Chittagong city.

The study finds that the institutional changes have occurred as short-term mitigation policies like establishing structural measures along hill slopes for adjustment and relocation of the most vulnerable informal settlers. Anchoring on institutional change theory, the study suggests that new policies may reduce social vulnerability of informal settlers to landslides through addressing the following issues.

First, previous institutional arrangements and how those shaped present vulnerability of informal settlers to landslides must be understood. Second,land tenure security of the informal settlers must be well incorporated in current mitigation policies. Third, organizational coordination should be strengthened from national to local level, as well as, between government agencies and other organizations like NGOs and civil society to facilitate policy implementation process.
Source: Stockholm University
Author: Ahammad, Ronju

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