Lightning is one of the major causes of worldwide weather-related fatalities. Lightning affects the low and middle-income nations of tropical and subtropical regions most. With the increasing population, climate change, and deforestation, the fatalities caused by lightning have increased (Jayaratne and Gomes 2012; Islam 2016; Holle et al. 2018). In recent years, Lightning casualties have emerged as one of the most dangerous life-threatening disasters in Bangladesh. In addition to the loss of life and health, the economic damage caused by lightning is enormous, diverse, and widely spread across the communities. They affect many people, from house owners and small and medium businesses to large national and multinational corporate businesses such as oil refineries and national heritage sites (Cooper and Holle 2019). Many domestic animals also die from lightning strikes leading to a loss of income sources for families in rural areas (Farukh et al. 2017).
Most of the people affected by lightning in developing countries are ignorant about lightning safety and have very little knowledge regarding fundamental first-aid principles (Gomes and Kithil 2006). Illiteracy, knowledge gap, religious orthodoxy, and assuming lightning as an ordinary phenomenon were the main reasons for inadequate lightning safety knowledge in Bangladesh (Rana 2019). Many myths about lightning death are also deep-rooted in developing countries, mainly rural areas. In Africa, a family affected by lightning injury is believed to be cursed. Due to these superstitious dogmas, neighbors may force the family to leave their community and jobs, which leads to a new start in a new community with further uncertainty (Mulder et al. 2012). In many rural areas, victims and families are often being suppressed for lightning-related death or injury. Their neighbors and relatives often blame the victims and their households that they get the result of their sin (Cooper and Emerita 2012). Rural people of Bangladesh tend to think of lightning as oppression of God and believe that lightning occurs due to the misdeeds of people (Jayaratne and Gomes 2012).
Bangladesh is in the tropical region where 78% of global lightning occurs (Christian et al. 2003; Dewan et al. 2017). In this South-Asian monsoon country, thunderstorms accompanied by severe lightning are one of the main reasons for human casualties. Especially the thunderstorms that occur every year from late March to May result in the most lightning-related fatality (Midya et al. 2018). In the Indian subcontinent, maximum lightning occurs in the states of Meghalaya, West Bengal, Assam, and central Bangladesh during the pre-monsoon season (March to May) (Ranalkar and Chaudhari 2009). Bangladesh has the highest lightning death among all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries. United States National Lightning Safety Institute reports that one-fourth of global lightning deaths occur in Bangladesh every year (Farukh et al. 2017). From 2010-to 2017, 211 people were injured annually, and lightning claimed 260 lives in Bangladesh, more than double the estimate of 106 annual deaths from 2000-to 2009 (Holle et al. 2018).
Considering the massive death toll and injuries caused by lightning and related events, in 2016, the Government of Bangladesh included lightning in the official disaster list that previously included floods, cyclones and storm surges, earthquakes, drought, and river erosion (Biswas et al. 2016; NPDM 2016; VoA News 2016). However, the country lacks a proper lightning database on casualty and economic loss. It also lacks lightning-safe dwellings and adequate safety, early warning system, and awareness schemes. Several pieces of research have been carried out on lightning and its cause and effect in Bangladesh. So far, the studies mainly concentrated on spatial and temporal vulnerability and demographic distribution of lightning fatality, the reason for an increase in lightning-related fatalities in Bangladesh (Chowdhury 1995; Biswas et al. 2016; Dewan et al. 2017; Farukh et al. 2017; Holle et al. 2018; Rahman 2019). Nevertheless, there remains a gap in research on the short-term and long-term socioeconomic impact of lightning and the coping mechanisms at the household level. Though the Bangladesh government declared lightning a disaster in 2016, there is a lack of thorough studies on this disaster and how it is affecting the population of the country. The proposed research focused on these poorly addressed issues. It aims to evaluate the socioeconomic condition and changes in households suffering from lightning fatalities. We studied how the incidents influenced the life and livelihood, lightning safety knowledge, coping strategies, and perception of lightning as a hazard. Additionally, the study looked into government, and community support provided to the lightning affected household in the Mymensingh district of Bangladesh.