Resilience interventions in Bangladesh cities deliver benefits worth twice the initial investment
Image: Cyclone relief services underway after Amphan hit Bangladesh in 2020.
An economic assessment carried out in the cities of Bagerhat and Patuakhali, Bangladesh, has found there to be a significant resilience dividend from the investment in interventions that promoted climate resilience in the cities. The assessment, carried out by ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), estimated the reduced losses after cyclone Amphan struck the cities in May 2020, owing to interventions financed by ADB and UCCRTF in the preceding years.
The study found that across the cities in Bangladesh covered by ADB’s Coastal Towns Environmental Improvement Programme (CTEIP), the economic benefits of resilience investments outweighed the costs by almost 2:1; $52 million dollars in benefits vs $27.6 million spent. The economics of these investments was enhanced by the inclusion of specific climate resilience mainstreaming (making the infrastructure itself more resilient).
Damages associated with the lack of climate-resilient building codes were the most important loss area, indicating the value of strong policy and planning measures as a critical resilience intervention. Drainage and flood control measures offered the highest total cost benefits overall.
Measuring reduced loss is one way of showing the value of investing in resilience. The study was carried out as part of UCCRTF’s efforts to report against its Design and Monitoring Framework, which includes an indicator that sets a target of a 15% reduction in economic costs associated with climate impacts in the 25 target cities as a result of the programme’s interventions.
The cities of Bagerhat and Patuakhali were chosen as a case study for the reduced loss assessment. Having both been part of one of the earliest UCCRTF investments in 2015, both cities had received considerable resilience support with climate resilience planning, and infrastructure that helped build resilience was already in place. Both cities have also been regularly impacted by large-scale cyclone events, such as Cyclone Sidr in 2007, which affected more than 200,000 people. This provided useful baseline data from which to measure changes in impact since the ADB interventions.
In May 2020, Cyclone Amphan made landfall near Bakkhali, West Bengal with wind speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour (mph) (160 kilometres per hour (kph)) before it weakened as it moved inland across Bangladesh. Amphan was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Bangladesh since Cyclone Sidr. It provided an opportunity to review the performance of resilience interventions that had been made in the two URCCTF target cities.
Based on early assessments, both Bagerhat and Patuakhali were significantly less impacted in socio-economic terms by Cyclone Amphan than they had been by Cyclone Sidr in 2007. This is partly due to the increase in preparedness and resilience resulting from ADB and other interventions over the last 10-15 years.
Investments in early warning systems (EWS) and evacuation planning allowed national and municipal authorities to move vulnerable populations before Cyclone Amphan hit, resulting in only limited death and loss of life. The city areas themselves survived relatively intact, with only limited reports of infrastructure damage, and no damage reported to UCCRTF-facilitated infrastructure.
In Bangladesh, the economic benefits of investments in resilience were $52 million in net present value versus a total cost of $27.6 million.
Figure 5: UCCRTF supported road and cyclone shelter infrastructure Post Amphan
An initial post Cyclone review indicated that UCCRTF-funded projects had been of significant support in terms of the resilience of both cities during Cyclone Amphan. For example, in Patuakhali:
No damage has been recorded for the infrastructure under the CTEIP project under ADB
Roads, boxed drains, and cyclone shelters remained intact
Infrastructure provided both social protection (shelter) and resilience benefits (transport)
The partially constructed UCCRTF cyclone shelter was used for both families and livestock
UCCRTF-supported roads facilitated evacuation for the most vulnerable across the city
Quantifying the benefits of resilience measures is important to make the case for future investment. Reduced loss is a useful indicator to demonstrate the value of investment, and by which to measure the impact of different approaches. The trust fund’s work in this area included a broader measurement process for understanding the impact of ADB interventions on resilience over time, with the ‘reduced loss’ assessments being one element of it.
The work is part of the Regional: Promoting Urban Climate Change Resilience in Selected Asian Cities - Knowledge Management and Resilience Measurement for Urban Climate Change Resilience (Subproject 2).
 The DMF is a logframe or logical framework, which a methodology for designing, monitoring and evaluating international development projects.
 ReiliefWeb (2007) Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh https://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/cyclone-sidr-hit-bangladesh