This background paper discusses how among the highest levels recorded of disaster-related internal displacement globally, Bangladesh is also one of the most climate vulnerable countries3and currently host to the world ́s largest refugee camp with nearly one million refugees exposed to the effects of climate change. Climate-related losses and damages threaten livelihoods, ecosystem services, food security, public health, human security and socio-economic development, often in the most vulnerable communities, and disproportionately impacting on those displaced. In turn, impacts from climate change, from severe weather to prolonged droughts and water insecurity, exacerbate internal and cross-border displacement. Given the scale, complexity, and protracted nature of displacement in Bangladesh amidst evolving shocks and stresses, solutions will need to become more community driven.
Humanitarian response efforts by national governments and international actors are usually top-down, bureaucratic and do not explicitly and purposefully engage and support refugees and IDPs to be active change agents in humanitarian operations. This paper presents a novel technical approach, which is centered on human rights, climate justice, public health and the participation of affected communities in risk reduction and resilience strategies. Such an approach is essential for national authorities and humanitarian actors to understand and work with those most affected by, and least culpable for, climate change, such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees. This becomes increasingly relevant as national attention concentrates on the multiple risks, or ‘crisis within a crisis’, in responding to COVID-19 alongside numerous other public health risks, environmental degradation and the seasonal disasters common to Bangladesh
Applying a socio-ecological systems lens, this background paper provides a snapshot of some of these critical intersections related to climatic risks, displacement, migration, environmental degradation, and public health. It highlights the key role of communities in managing such complex interactions between hazards, exposure, vulnerability and capacities, and the importance of rights-based approaches in Bangladesh. Building from empirical research from OM and Mercy Corps ́s Rapid Strategic Humanitarian Resilience Assessment(2018) and the pilot implementation of its corresponding Humanitarian Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Toolkit (2018-2020), this paper provides concrete lessons learned and examples of community-based risk reduction and resilience in practice. It emphasizes that community-led, refugee/IDP-centered approach is crucial for the development of practical and innovative risk-reduction and resilience-building actions that can more effectively enable those most affected by crises, to better navigate and mitigate the impacts of disasters and internal and cross-border displacement. Against the backdrop of disaster displacement and climate change, it is imperative to develop sustainable and localised strategies of resilience that ensure participation of all at-risk groups. It is in the everyday practices, adaptive mechanisms and navigational strategies of internally displaced persons, refugees, stateless and displacement-affected host communities that solutions can be re-envisioned and better tailored to complex socio-ecological systems as well as people’s capacities, needs and agency.