A short-term decrease in household income inequality in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh, following Cyclone Aila

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    Abstract

    Cyclones are the most common natural disaster in Bangladesh. Here, we assess the economic impact of a relatively small cyclone, Cyclone Aila, which hit the Sundarbans region in 2009 and destroyed local infrastructure including many shrimp farms. In contrast to other studies, we found that the higher-income households in the study area (Koyra sub-district) were more vulnerable in both relative and absolute terms. The average damage costs for high income households were 42 % of the yearly income before Aila, whereas this was only 16 and 15 % for middle- and low-income groups, respectively. Higher-income households were also less resilient than middle- and low-income groups, also something rarely reported in the literature. By engaging in new opportunities, the poorest households, by our calculations, increased their income by 16 % compared to their income before Aila. Middle income households decreased their income slightly (by 4 %), while the income of the richest households dropped by about 50 % after the cyclone. Income was more equally distributed across the population after the cyclone than it was before, in particular in the highly and severely affected areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1103-1123
    Number of pages21
    JournalNatural Hazards
    Volume83
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

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