The role of social learning in enhancing community resilience and recovery from flash floods in Sunamganj, Bangladesh

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Azad, Md. Abul Kalam
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The purpose of this research was to examine how social learning occurs with regard to flash floods in the wetland communities in the northeastern region of Bangladesh and what role it plays in enhancing community resilience. I followed a Case Study approach within the framework of qualitative research design. The field investigation was carried out in two village-communities, namely Rajapur and Fenarbak of Fenarbak Union, of Sunamganj District from July to December 2020. To attain the required data, the following tools and techniques were applied: Key Informant Interviews (24), Focus Group Discussions (6), Semi-Structured Interviews (13), Oral Histories (7), and participation observation (2 events). The findings reveal that social learning stems primarily from first-hand experience with flash floods and through sharing the flood experiences of the affected people with others in various informal and formal learning platforms. This process takes place in an iterative way that generates substantial innovative knowledge influencing local communities to take social learning-based actions – both individually and collectively. The learning-based innovative measures play a profound role in mitigating the adverse effects of flash floods and in reinforcing community resilience. However, the application of innovative actions is undermined by a number of embedded factors – including learning capacity, social, economic, political, and institutional structure. To nurture innovative knowledge for building community resilience, a social learning-based approach is required that would help thriving innovative adaption strategies to deal with environmental shocks.
Social learning, Community resilience, Flash floods