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Relief assistance to 1998 flood victims: a comparison of the performance of the government and NGOs

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With increasing support from the international community, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have played an important role in Bangladesh since the early 1970s in providing emergency assistance to disaster victims. After observing widespread corruption and misuse of relief aid by the Bangladesh government in 1974 and subsequent years, external sources began to channellize emergency assistance to the victims through NGOs. Realizing that NGOs were usurping its authority over external disaster assistance, the government looked for opportunities to demonstrate its ability to deliver services to victims. An opportunity came in July 1998 when Bangladesh experienced a devastating flood. Using data collected from 348 households in 11 villages, this paper compares support received by the respondents from the Bangladesh government and NGOs during and immediately after the flood. Respondent opinions regarding emergency relief distribution suggest that both sources performed satisfactorily and an overwhelming majority of them thought that the government performed better than it had previously in distributing relief assistance to flood victims. Following an analysis of the survey data, this paper discusses the policy implications for future disaster assistance efforts in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Keywords: Bangladesh; NGOs; disaster victims; emergency assistance; flood; government

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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