This paper considers how to make pro-poor climate change adaptation more effective in the city of Chittagong. Drawing on discussions with residents in informal settlements and interviews with staff from government agencies, NGOs and donors, it shows the lack of connection between the formal institutional structure for disaster preparedness and the groups most at risk from extreme weather disasters and their community level actions. There is no clear definition of roles among local government agencies with regard to climate change adaptation. Although there is a donor-funded programme to reduce poverty and disaster risks, this is not being implemented in the settlements most at risk from landslides. Neither are there any measures underway to address the needs of the residents in these high risk settlements, in part because of the financial weakness of local government. Nor is there much support for this from national government – since national climate change adaptation policy does not consider urban adaptation and strengthening urban government capacity to reduce the vulnerability of the extreme poor as a priority. NGOs undertake programmes for community-based disaster risk reduction but their scale and scope are limited by not being integrated into local government.