Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 3 Number 3 (2011)

Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management 2011 3 3

doi: 10.3850/S1793924011000915

Assessing Social Vulnerability to Earthquake Hazard in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

Israt Jahan1, Mehedi Ahmed Ansary2, Sharmin Ara3 and Ishrat Islam4
1Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
2Department of Civil Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
3Bangladesh Network Office for Urban Safety (BNUS), Dhaka, Bangladesh.
4Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Earthquake is a risk that needs to be addressed in a more concerted way. The historical seismicity and recent tremors occurred in Bangladesh and adjoining areas indicate that the country is at high seismic risk. The existing urban trend and urbanization process of Bangladesh have caused increased vulnerability to natural disasters like earthquake. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh is the hub of commerce, economy, education, politics etc. and accommodates a large population. According to a report published by United Nations IDNDR-RADIUS Initiatives, Dhaka and Tehran are the cities with the highest relative earthquake disaster risk. Seismologists believe a strong earthquake will strike Dhaka in the near future. It is acknowledged that the unplanned development with the existence of extreme population density, old dilapidated unreinforced masonry buildings, narrow road network, close proximity of adjacent buildings, irregular building shape and others have made older part of the city more vulnerable to any imminent earthquake. In any disaster risk reduction plan the major concern goes to the preparedness level of the local community as loss due to any hazard multiplies in a less aware community. In this paper the social vulnerability of household individuals to risk from earthquake is assessed for the older part of Dhaka City. The methodology starts by selecting social vulnerability indicators from the literature and then collects the relevant data needed for the analysis by a household questionnaire survey. Through analyzing different indicators the present status of the community regarding earthquake risk, their awareness level, past earthquake experiences and instant responses, perception about the vulnerability of the residing building as well as community is found. Finally a “Pressure and Release Model” is established for the study area to identify the root causes that make community vulnerable to earthquake and consequently try to find out some solutions in minimizing the risk at time. This model has provided direction to reduce the pressure and attain a comparatively safer condition for the community.

Keywords: Awareness, Community, Earthquake, Vulnerability.

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