Geohazards and Poverty: An Ecosystem Services Approach in Bangladesh

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Craig Hutton1, Robert J Nicholls2 and Atilla Lazar2, (1)University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14, United Kingdom, (2)University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
The Ecosystem Services (ES) of river deltas often support high population densities, estimated at over 500 million people globally, with particular concentrations in South, South-East and East Asia and Africa. Further, a large proportion of delta populations experience extremes of poverty and are highly vulnerable to the environmental and ecological stress and degradation that is occurring.

A systems dynamics approach is adopted to provide policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of Geohazards and environmental stressors and associated policy decisions on people's livelihoods (Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation - ESPA Deltas). This is done by a multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers. The work presents a participatory approach to formally evaluating ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of environmetnal stressors and hazards. These changes include subsidence and sea level rise, land degradation and population pressure in delta regions. The approach will be developed, tested and applied in coastal Bangladesh.

Rural livelihoods are inextricably linked with the natural ecosystems and low income farmers are highly vulnerable to changes in ecosystem services as they are impacted by geohazards and environmental stressors. Their health, wellbeing and financial security are under threat from many directions such as unreliable supplies of clean water, increasing salinisation of soils and flood, while in the longer term they are threatened by subsidence and sea-level rise. This study will contribute to the understanding of this present vulnerability and help the people who develop the relevant policy to make more informed choices about how best to reduce this vulnerability.