On 15 November 2007 a severe cyclone struck Bangladesh, killing more than 3,500 people. Cyclone Sidr struck overnight packing winds of 250 kph (155 mph).
The Category 4 cyclone triggered a 15-foot (5-metre) high tidal surge that devastated three coastal towns and forced 3.2 million people to evacuate.
The cyclone affected 8.9 million people and 1.5 million people had their homes damaged or destroyed. Crops and food sources were also destroyed.
Community infrastructure was destroyed with roads, trees and more than 2,000 schools damaged by the destructive winds.
Bangladesh is a low-lying country in South Asia surrounded by India, Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal. Despite making some progress in improving standards of living, its human development ranking (UNDP, Human Development Report 2007/08) is 140 out of 177 countries.
Aside from city-states, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world. The total population is 144 million. The population is reasonably ethnically homogeneous. Over 97% are Bengali, the remaining 3% are Biharis, tribal peoples and Rohinga refugees.
Bangla is the state language and is understood by the majority of the population including tribal groups. The 2003 Human Development Report states that 36% of Bangladeshis live on less than $1 per day and 82.8% on less than $2 per day.
Poverty is exacerbated by frequent natural disasters in the form of floods and cyclones. In 1998, the worst floods ever witnessed covered almost two-thirds of the country, affecting around 15 million people. Floods occurred again in 2000 and 2002. However, with assistance from the international community, including NGOs like World Vision, early warning systems, construction of cyclone shelters and disaster and evacuation planning can help to reduce the impact of climate disasters on people’s lives