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Gender Specific Awareness in Receiving Information about Earthquake: A Study on Dhaka City

Md. Abdus Sattar 
Bangladesh Open University, Gazipur, Bangladesh

Umasree Dhar 
Bangladesh Open University, Gazipur, Bangladesh 

Online Version Published: 30 December 2016

© 2016 South Asian Youth Research Institute for Development. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CCBY).

Abstract

Bangladesh has one of the highest levels of seismicity in Asia and is also susceptible to large earthquakes for its geographical location and geological formation. Unplanned urbanization and structural activities make many sectors of Bangladesh susceptible to disasters like earthquakes. Types of construction materials and building designs also make the structures vulnerable to damage. This paper aims to explore the gender specific awareness in receiving information about precaution from earthquakes from the students of Dhaka University and BUET . The significance of receiving knowledge on earthquake related information between male and female respondents is explained here.

Keywords: Gender; Specific; Awareness; Receive; Information; Earthquake

1. Introduction

Earthquakes are a destructive phenomenon or natural event which has a geological character. A large earthquake ranks as one of nature’s most catastrophic and devastating events. Earthquakes and related hazards like landslides, tsunami, fire, liquefaction, volcanic eruptions, flooding, and long -range changes in land and water destroyed the civilizations. Far-East (e. g. Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea, Mongolia, and Southeast Asian regions such as Indonesia, Malaysia) is the most earthquake prone area in the world. The USA also faced the most devastating earthquake in recent history. Most of the earthquakes’ damages were devastating. One sixteenth century earthquake in China reportedly claimed 85,000 people. 143000 people died due to the Tokyo earthquake in 1923 in Japan and another earthquake in China in 1976 demolished several hundred thousand lives (Keller, 1992). 

The Delta Islander Bangladesh is vulnerable to earthquakes because of its geographic location. This country’s geographic location is limited by three tectonic plate boundaries such as-Indian plate, Eurasian plate and Burmese Plate. This country is also vulnerable to earthquakes for the Sub-dauki (Sylhet), Bogra, Tripura, Shillong, Assam and Moddhupur (Tangail) fault zone.

During January 2006-May 2009 the observatory at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) recorded 86 shakes above four magnitudes and in this period another four earth shaking with magnitude above five was also recorded.  

Earthquake specialists have divided the country into three regions according to earthquake vulnerability. These are Zone-1, Zone-2, and Zone-3. Zone-1 refers to high risk areas like Chittagong, Sylhet, Mymensingh, and Rangpur; Zone-2 refers to mid-range risk areas such as Tangail, Rajshahi, Bogra, Dhaka, Comilla, Sirajgonj, etc. and Zone-3 consists of low-risk areas including coastal areas (Rasheed, 2008).  

The Bengal region has faced many earthquakes. In 1548 earthquakes affected Sylhet and Chittagong regions and 1742’s earthquake affected Dhaka and Chittagong regions. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 and 7.5 affected Sylhet in 1885 and 1889 respectively. The great Indian earthquake in 1897 with a magnitude of 8.7 also affected Sylhet. In 1918 an earthquake with a magnitude of  7.6 affected Srimongol. Rangpur was affected by Dubri earthquake in 1930 with a magnitude of 7.1 and 1934s Bihar-Nepal earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3. In the recent past, Chittagong was affected by 1997s earthquake with a magnitude of 6, and another earthquake in Chittagong region affected Moheskhali in 1999 with a magnitude of 5.2. In 2003s Barkol upazilla (local administrative unit) was affected by an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1. This recorded history portrays how much present Bangladesh is susceptible to earthquakes.    

As Bangladesh is located in tectonic earthquake faults, many areas such as Sylhet, Mymensingh, Chittagong, Rangpur, Dhaka, Tangail, Comilla, Rajshahi, etc. are vulnerable to major earthquakes. Although some awareness is raised among limited groups due to some recent earthquakes in this area, most people do not have much preparedness initiatives.

1.2 Objectives of the study

The objectives of this study are:

  • to identify the socio-economic condition of the respondents
  • to reveal the awareness and preparedness about earthquakes by gender

1.3 Review of the Literature 

Previous studies on earthquakes in Bangladesh often focused on the scientific causes of generating earthquake or the zoning of the country by earthquake susceptibility. Some of the studies have revealed the measures for the preparedness related to earthquakes.

Sultana et al. (2013) revealed the causes, effects, probabilities and earthquake risk zones of Bangladesh. They said that earthquakes pose a gigantic threat to the economy and wellbeing of the nation. Due to earthquakes, thousands of buildings of its cities will be collapsed, and serious casualties will occur. They also concluded that the seismic risks should be calculated to mitigate the losses and damages. Here they suggested that a comprehensive plan for mitigating earthquake risk for the urban and rural area of this country should be made and implemented seriously with the highest priority.

Islam et al. (2010) mainly focused on the liquefaction vulnerability of reclaimed areas of Dhaka city due to earthquakes. They also investigated that the shortcomings of the development procedures and liquefaction potential of reclaimed areas of the city make it vulnerable to liquefaction due to earthquakes.

Lahiry (2010), in his study “Possible Disastrous Earthquake in Bangladesh and its Precautions” highlighted the importance of the safety of Rural Electrification Program in Bangladesh and he also emphasized on an earthquake’s risks, its threats, vulnerability to damage, and preparedness for rescue from its threats. This paper gave importance in raising awareness among the people to prepare earthquake contingency plans.   

Akhtar (2010) focused on vulnerability to earthquake and risk mitigation of Dhaka city. Dhaka, a fast growing and densely populated (12.8 million as of 2008) mega city, poses an extremely high risk because of its population density (45, 508 per km2) and innumerable high-rise apartments (Akhtar, 2010).

Hossain (1998) emphasized on updating databases on earthquakes and seismic zoning maps. He said that northeastern urban area (Mymensingh, Kishoregonj, and Sylhet) of Bangladesh are more susceptible to earthquakes than other parts of this country. He had given some mitigation measures to reduce the existing problems for earthquake in Bangladesh.

Noor (1997) gave importance to the seismic coding for designing and constructing new structures. This seismic coding helps to minimize the earthquake risk for property and lives. Building based coding systems also helps to categorize the risk structure. The author had discussed only the risks for structures due to earthquakes and building codes for earthquake resilient structures. He did not discuss any measure for preparing people for an earthquake and the awareness level. This study is focused on structural preparedness.

Choudhury’s (1993) study on earthquakes, discussed geography and geology of Bangladesh. He showed the major earthquakes that affect Bangladesh and seismic maps that indicate the shaking information. He also discussed the design of earthquake resistant buildings to mitigate seismic risk. 

The above literature is evident that there are no more research works that emphasize on the receiving gender-specific information about earthquakes. Therefore, my present study is very important to make decision about earthquake preparedness. As an earthquake-vulnerable country, it is also significant for us.

2. Methodology of the Study

In this section the researcher shares the theoretical construction of methodology, the research tools and the methods of data collection, methods of data analysis, etc. to provide insight into the whole procedure of the study. Methodology of the study describes the strategy adopted, and the steps followed to achieve the ultimate goal and objectives of the study. In short, it is the complete crystallization of the research work. As this study is mostly subject to primary data, therefore it becomes very difficult to explore data from direct field surveys without an appropriate methodology. All the critical issues related to the study area, sampling procedure, working procedure, survey and data collection process are scientifically discussed in this chapter.

 In simple terms, we can think of two approaches to investigations in disaster research: qualitative and quantitative method.  Quantitative study seeks numerical data. This study has been conducted in some areas of Dhaka city (Dhaka University campus and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology campus). These areas have been selected because of its importance as an earthquake-vulnerable area. Before selecting the study area, rapport was built with some of the students of Dhaka University who hailed from different socio-demographic backgrounds. The study population of this study was about 40,000 students of the University of Dhaka and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Sampling is, therefore, the technique of selecting a representative portion of a population. Fair selected samples may portray the succinct characteristics of the population. Sampling trims down the redundant time and excess cost of research studies. According to the table for determining sample size from a given population up to 40,000 has a sample size of 380. However, for limitation of time and resources we have conducted 200 surveys on total study population while my sampling procedure was purposive.

Quantitative data are necessarily structured regarding the number system and reflect researcher-imposed constructs. Therefore we have collected quantitative data by administering semi-structured survey questionnaires. The study is dependent on primary data. Data were collected directly from the respective field through surveys. The quantitative data analysis involves actually preparing the data to get it into an ‘analyzable’ for “Code responses or observation categories”. Computer software MS WORD and MS EXCEL were used for graphical analysis and presentation.

3. Results and Discussion

The information gathered from respondents constituted the basis for analysis. The term ‘data’ is used to represent the recorded response patterns of the respondents and instrument used in this study. So, analysis of collected data is important in any research work. This is a piece of quantitative research and this type of research is challenging by nature, but it is important in the context of subject and measurement. The researcher has presented a quantitative and interpretative analysis of data in a meaningful way.

3.1 Demographic characteristics of the respondents     

In this study, each is considered as a unit of analysis. Thus, the representative of the household was preferred for the interview, being judged as respondents. Researchers had collected demographic and socio-economic data from each respondent including their age, sex, gender, education level, occupation, family size and so on. This information would provide some interesting aspects that came up in the interviews which helped to link the environment and the experiences of the respondents in local areas as well as the contextualization of data. In case of interviewing, the information of respondents was collected extensively to analyze in-depth situation of the socio-economic status of the respondents. Among the respondents 50 percent were male, and the other 50 percent were female. Among the males and females, 82 percent were graduate students, and 18 percent were post-graduate students. Most of the respondents were Muslim (92%), and 8 percent were Hindu and other religions. The majority 97 percent respondents were married and 3 percent unmarried.

Figure 1: Percentage of male and female respondents by having had to experience an earthquake

Sattar & Dhar-Figure-1- Percentage of male and female respondents by having had experience an earthquake

Source: Field work, 2015 n=200

Respondents were asked if they had ever experienced an earthquake. About 74% of the male respondents had experienced an earthquake compared to 69 % of the female respondents. According to the above table, male respondents are greater than female respondents who had experienced an earthquake.

Figure 2: Percentage of male and female respondents from where they heard the information on earthquake preparation

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 2-Percentage of male and female respondents from where they heard the information on earthquake preparation

From the above table, it is observed, television news anchors and reporters were the most commonly cited source of information on earthquakes among the respondents. The majority 83 percent of the male respondents heard the information from radio hosts or the reporters whereas 82 percent of the female respondents were dependent on TV anchors or reporters. Social relation and friendship are other sources of information on earthquakes. Among them, female respondents comparatively heard less about earthquakes from their relative and friends which are significant in comparison with male respondents. The table shows that about 70 percent male respondents shared information from their friends and relatives compared to 50 percent of the female respondents from the same source. Other gender significance is found in differences between males and females in hearing information from Red Crescent and local emergency management agencies. About 42 percent of the male respondents heard information from the Red Crescent and local emergency management agencies whereas the percentage of female respondents is 18 percent and 15 percent respectively. The above table shows that female respondents are more familiar with television and radio than male respondents, whereas most of the male respondents had heard information from friends and relatives than female respondents.

Figure 3: Percentage of male and female respondents by how they had information communicated to them 

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 3-Percentage of male and female respondents by how they communicated with information

*Multiple responses      Source: Field work, 2015   n=200

This question was about the different channels of communication transmitted earthquake-related information. The above table shows the significant differences between male and female respondents according to the sources or ways that they receive information. There is a greater difference between male and female respondents in receiving information through reading newspapers, reading other print media’s news on earthquakes, browsing internet and face to face communication. The overwhelming majority (95 percent) of male respondents receive information on earthquakes via newspapers compared to the 65 percent of the female respondents. The above table also shows that among the male respondents 88 percent read other print media, 65 percent browsing internet, and 41 percent maintain face to face communication for looking for information on earthquake. On the other hand, among the female respondents, 52 percent read other print media, 30 percent browsing internet, and 13 percent maintain face to face communication for such type of information.

Figure 4: Percentage of male and female respondents by actively looking for information

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 4- Percentage of male and female respondents by actively looking for information

Source: Field work, 2015    n=200

The above figure shows the gender differences between male and female by actively looking for information. Here, males were much more concerned in looking for information on earthquakes. The overwhelming majority 90 percent male respondents actively looked for earthquake-related information whereas the female respondents percentage is only 62. According to the above figure, males were more aware of looking for earthquake-related information than female.

Figure 5: Percentage of male and female respondents by how frequently they have looked for information

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 5- Percentage of male and female respondents by how frequent they have looked for information

Source: Field work, 2015   n=200

Above figure shows that there is difference between male and female respondents by how frequently they look for information on earthquakes. In most cases, male respondents were more aware of looking for information than female. The majority 30 percent of male respondent looked for information at least once a month whereas the percentage of female respondents were 15. The male respondents’ percentage is higher in looking for information by the category of at least daily, at least weekly and at least once a month. On the other hand, the majority 20 percent female respondents look for information just once a year, whereas the male percentage was only 5.

After computing z test for gender differences between males and females in looking for information at least daily was not significant (z=1.34 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). Gender differences between male and female in actively looking for information at least weekly was also not significant (z= 0.93 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). On the other hand,  gender differences between male and female in actively looking for information at least once a month was significant (z= 2.54 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). Another gender difference between male and female in actively looking for information at least once a year was significant (z=-3.21 at 1% level of significance in two proportion).

How much of the information did you believe, understand, think about and discuss with other people?

The respondents were also asked for their belief, understanding and discussion on earthquake-related information and preparedness. On average, respondents indicated that they understood, believed, thought about and discussed some of the information they received.

Figure 6: Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information that they got about earthquakes did they believe

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 6- Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information that they got about earthquakes did they believe

Source: Field work, 2015  n=200

Here we found in the above figure the majority 41 percent of female respondents did not believe any of the information on earthquake that they got. However, it is positively recognized here that the percentage of male respondents was only 5 question regarding any of the information that they did not believe. On the other hand, among the male respondents, 35 percent believe all the information on earthquakes that they got whereas the percentage of female respondent was 14. It is clear here that, male respondents are more concerned in believing information on earthquake.

After computing, z test for gender differences between male and female in none of it was significant (z=-6.05 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). However, the gender difference between male and female in some of it was not significant (z= 2.12 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). On the other hand, gender differences between male and female in all of it was significant (z= 3.53 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). 

Figure 7: Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they did understand

Sattar & Dhar- Figure 7- Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they did understand

Source: Field work, 2015     n=200

Respondents were asked the question about how much of the information did they understand. Regarding this question, the highest 56 percent of the male respondents understood some of the received information about preparing for earthquake compared to 49 percent of female respondents. Another  16 percent of female respondents understood none of the information compared to 5 percent of male respondents. On the other hand, 39 percent of the male respondents understood all of the information about preparing for earthquake compared to 35 percent of female respondents.

After computing, z test for gender differences between males and females, all were not significant (z=-2.54 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). Gender difference between male and female in some of it was also not significant (z= 0.99 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). A finally, gender difference between male and female in all of it was not significant (z= 0.59 at 1% level of significance in two proportion).

Figure 8: Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they thought about 

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 8-Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they did think

Source: Field work, 2015  n=200

Figure-8 shows that about 36 percent of the female respondents never thought about information on earthquakes whereas the percentage of male respondents was 5. Similarly, there was a significant difference found between male-female respondents by the proportion of information they thought about. Mentioned that about 32 percent of male respondents did think of all the information about earthquakes and 15 percent of female respondents did as well which was almost half of the male respondents.

After computing, z test for gender difference between male and female in none of it was significant (z=-5.43 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). However, the gender difference between male and female in some of it was not significant (z= 1.99 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). On the other hand, gender difference between male and female in all of it was significant (z= 2.84 at 1% level of significance in two proportion).

Figure 9: Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they discussed with other people

Sattar & Dhar-Figure 9- Percentage of male and female respondents by how much of the information they did discuss with other people

Source: Filed work, 2015   n=200

Regarding this question, 46 percent of female respondents said that they did not discuss any of the information with other people, that they knew about the earthquake, and 26 per cent male respondents did not discuss with other people. The difference between two groups is significant regarding the information that they shared with others.

Note: After computing, z test for gender difference between male and female in none of it was significant (z=-2.95 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). However, the gender difference between male and female in some of it was not significant (z= 2.14 at 1% level of significance in two proportion). Gender difference between male and female in all of it was also not significant (z= -1.34 at 1% level of significance in two proportion).

4. Conclusion and Recommendations

From the presentation on the basis of empirical field study, it is clear that male respondents were more likely than female respondents to have experienced an earthquake. All of the respondents of both categories (male and female) had heard about earthquake preparedness. Female respondents were very familiar with television, radio and on the other hand, male respondents had heard information from friends and relatives. Television was the most common media for communication to know information on earthquake preparedness among the respondents than radio, newspaper, internet, face to face communication and other print media. Male respondents were more aware than female respondents to look actively for information about an earthquake. They were looking for information more frequently than female respondents. The number of female respondents was greater in never looking for information about earthquake preparedness than the male respondents. More male respondents had believed, understood, thought about and discussed the received information than female respondents.

Some recommendation is addressed here for better awareness on receiving information about earthquake preparedness and measures for further earthquake preparedness. These are as below:

  • Raising awareness among the people, especially females, should be emphasized.
  • Inaugurate institutions (school, college, university) based awareness building programmes for both the male and female students.
  • It is important to engage the government, NGO, and other volunteer organizations to build awareness among the people.
  • The important participation of women in the policy-making forums especially disaster management policy making should be ensured.

References

1. Akhter S.H. (2010). Earthquakes of Dhaka: Environment of Capital Dhaka-Plants Wildlife Gardens Parks Air Water and Earthquake. M.A. Islam (Ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, pp. 401-426.

2. Ali M.H. (1998). Earthquake Database and Seismic Zoning of Bangladesh. Department of Civil Engineering, BUET, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

3. Choudhury J. R. (1993). Seismicity in Bangladesh. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Dhaka. http://bangladeshandproblems.blogspot.com

4. Islam, M. S., M. T. Hossain, S. F. Ameen, E. Hoque and S. Ahmed (2010). Earthquake-induced liquefaction vulnerability of reclaimed areas of Dhaka, Journal of Civil Engineering (IEB), 38 (1) pp. 65-80.

5. Keller, E. A. (1992). Environmental Geology: Sixth Edition. (pp.145-168), New York, the USA: Oxford, Maxwell Macmillan International.

6. Lahiry A.K. (2010). Possible Disastrous Earthquake in Bangladesh and its Precautions” from “National Power (electricity) Week-2010: Power Sector: Progress and Development Strategy. Power Division, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MoPE and MR), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

7. Rasheed, K.B.S (2008). Bangladesh: Resource and Environmental Profile. (pp. 160-201). Dhaka, Bangladesh: AH Development Publishing House.

8. Sultana, S., U. Rahman and U. Saika (2013). Earthquake, cause susceptibility and risk mitigation in Bangladesh,  Asian Research Publishing Network of Earth Sciences, Vol. 2 No.2 pp. 70-80.

Author (s) Biography

Md. Abdus Sattar is the assistant professor of Sociology at Bangladesh Open University, Gazipur. His research interests include disaster management, environment, and climate change. He has published a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Umasree Dhar is the assistant professor of Physics at Bangladesh Open University, Gazipur. His research interests include environmental science, and he has published a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals.

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Gender Specific Awareness in Receiving Information about Earthquake: A Study on Dhaka City by South Asian Youth Research Institute for Development is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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