2020
  • ICIMOD Publication

Application of geospatial technologies in developing a dynamic landslide early warning system in a humanitarian context: the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

  • Bayes Ahme
  • Md. Shahinoor Rahman
  • Peter Sammonds
  • Rahenul Islam
  • Kabir Uddin

Since August 2017, more than 744,400 stateless Rohingya refugees–an ethnic Muslim minority group from the Rakhine State–have entered Bangladesh to escape serious crimes against humanity conducted by the Myanmar Army. Extensive level of deforestation and hill cutting activities took place in Cox’s Bazar District (CBD) in Bangladesh to accommodate them. The refugee camps are sitting on hills and loose soil and are highly vulnerable to rainfall-triggered landslides. Notably in June 2017, landslides in the same region killed at least 160 people. From this perspective, the study aims to develop a localised landslide early warning system (EWS) for the Rohingya refugees and their host communities in CBD. A novel method, combining landslide inventory and susceptibility maps, rainfall thresholds and dynamic web-based alert system, has been introduced to develop the landslide early warning system (EWS) by applying advanced geoinformation techniques. Results suggest that approximately 5,800 hectares of forest land cover disappeared due to the 2017 Rohingya influx. Land cover changes through hill cutting andslope modifications, and unplanned urbanisation are predominantly responsible for slope failures and consecutive 5-day periods of rainfall between 95–220 mm could initiate landslides in high susceptible areas. The EWS would support the local authorities and international organisations in reducing disaster risks and saving lives from landslides in a humanitarian context. © 2020, © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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