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Description of Noakhali District

Multiple Authors

Description of the Study Area

Map of Noakhali District

Noakhali is one of the coastal districts of the country. The district has an area of 3600.99km² and is bordered by Comilla district to the north, the Meghna estuary and the Bay of Bengal to the south, Feni and Chittagong districts to the east and Lakshmipur and Bhola district to the west (see map). The absolute location of the district is 2200′ N to 23010′ N latitude and 89050′ E to 91030′ E longitude.

Noakhali district consists of six upazilas (sub-districts) namely Noakhali Sadar, Begumganj, Sonaimuri, Chatkhil, Senbagh, Companiganj and Hatiya. The study area, Noakali Sadar upazila is located between 22038′ and 22059′ N and 90054′ and 91015′ E. The upazila occupies an area of 1071.66km², including 220.34km² of rivers and 103.71km² of forested land. The upazila is bordered to the north by Begumgonj and Senbag upazilas, to the east by Compnaiganj, to the southeast by Hatiya upazila of Noakhali district and to the west by Ramgati and Laksmipur upazila of Laksmipur district. The southwestern part of the upazila faces the sea and forms part of the Meghna estuary. Noakhali Sadar upazila is now split into two upazilas, namely Noakhali Sadar (or Sudharam) upazila and Subarna Char upazila.

Physiographic condition

The area represents an extensive flat, coastal and deltaic land, located on the tidal floodplain of the Meghna River delta, characterized by flat land and low relief.The area is influenced by diurnal tidal cycles and the tidal fluctuations vary depending on seasons, being pronounced during the monsoon season.

The population of Noakhali Sadar and Subarna Char upazila in 2001 was 766,722 with the male and female population divided almost equally. The population growth rate is 1.65% and density is 715km². Urban population is 14.52%. Literacy rate for males is 51.43% and for females is 45.04%.

Natural Hazards

Noakhali, being exposed to the Bay of Bengal is prone to multiple hazards. Cyclones are frequently occurring disasters, which hit the coastal villages every year. Sometimes, cyclones accompanied by tidal surge inundate the very remote coastal areas of the district and cause massive destruction. Along with these, annual flooding due to excessive rainfall and poor drainage systems has recently been devastating. Waterlogging is common in and around the Sadar area. Rapid population growth and intensification of human activities are the main contributors to an increase in risk, especially in the remote areas adjacent to the sea. Very recently, there has been an additional (Tsunami hazard) hazard which is also threatening the coastal poor people.


Research on the vulnerabilities of coastal inhabitants (conducted by CEGIS, 2004) indicates that the vulnerability of the people of Noakhali is exacerbated by the natural disasters and their socio-economic status. The challenges posed by waterlogging, floods, lack of employment opportunities, ownership of khas land, cyclones, low prices of cultivated crops etc. increase the vulnerability of the small and landless farmers. In the case of the fishermen, cyclones, depletion of fisheries resources, dearth of capital or seed money, deteriorating law and order situation, weak communication facilities etc. make them extremely vulnerable. Laborers also fall prey to the vulnerabilities arising out of the lack of employment opportunities in both urban and rural areas, cyclones, ownership and claims over khas land, lack of safe drinking water and poor communication networks.

Life and Livelihood

Climate change may affect the coastal region through salinity, erosion, accretion, floods, waterlogging, cyclones or tidal surges. Considering this, the people living in the coastal area and depending on its resources for their livelihoods belong to a vulnerable category. Livelihoods of people have been affected through the impacts of climate change on agriculture, fisheries, livestock, shrimp farming, off-farm activities and even the locations of human settlements. Over the centuries, climate variability and extreme weather events have caused deaths and destruction of assets, resources and livelihood practices, which eventually have led people to devise indigenous coping strategies for survival. The practiced coping mechanisms within the communities and their traditional knowledge-base enable them to organize at the community level and manage disasters. Even their wealth of knowledge regarding the management of their livelihoods in different changed climatic scenarios is substantial.

Perceptions of Change

The participants in focus group discussions reported the following changes in climate as some of the main changes they have experienced:

  • Excessive rainfall in a few successive days: Torrential/huge rainfall within a short period (in days) is becoming more common, rather than constant rainfall over a wider span of days as in the past.
  • Change in the rainfall calendar: Time/season of rainfall has changed over the years, what the participants termed as ‘untimely rainfall’ that poses much difficulty in the cultivation of crops. The highest annual rainfall still occurs in the months of Ashar and Srabon. However the past 5 or 6 years’ rainfall in Ashwin and Kartik has been increasing significantly causing severe devastation to Aman crops and to culture fisheries.
  • Increase in Temperature: Temperature, as perceived by the participants in general, has increased recently compared to the past.
  • Routine occurrence of drought: Drought is being experienced every year in a routine manner. Both the time-span and intensity of drought have increased over the years. Excessive heat is felt during drought-time.
  • Colder winter: The span of winter has become shorter but the intensity seems to be higher.

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Methodology of Bangladesh NCAP Project

Key findings from Bangladesh NCAP Project

Lessons learned from Bangladesh NCAP Project

Back to: Netherlands Climate Assistance Programme (NCAP)

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