Bangladesh cyclone shows the devastation of climate-related loss and damage



Over the past decade, there has been growing recognition of climate-induced loss and damage – such as the destruction of homes or buildings after a flood. However, economic losses and damages have received far more attention than their non-economic counterparts.

These non-economic losses and damages cannot be measured in monetary terms, including loss of life, health and wellbeing, livelihoods, territory, cultural heritage and traditions, indigenous knowledge and biodiversity.

Kabir’s village faced tremendous losses during Cyclone Sidr, when approximately a third of its population lost their life. Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson

When a major UN report on climate change was released earlier this year, I and my peers at the Lancet Countdown described its findings as a “code red for a healthy future”. That doesn’t just mean physical health, but mental health as well.

In my research, I focus on the relationship between environmental events and people’s wellbeing and mental health in countries such as the Philippines, South Africa, Senegal, India and Bangladesh.

Kabir explains how the first year after the cyclone was a big black hole. He has fragments of positive memories such as neighbours bringing him food and checking in on him. He also has other, more unpleasant memories of people taking advantage of his vulnerable state by claiming to have lent him money while he was unable to work, and then pestering him to pay back his debts.