ESPA Deltas Working Papers

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Assessing Health, Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services And Poverty Alleviation In Populous Deltas

Project Aims

This project aims to provide policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people's livelihoods. This will be done by a multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers. Collectively they will use a participatory approach to create a holistic approach to formally evaluating ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of changes that are occurring. 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 and also tested conceptually in two other populous deltas in India.

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.

Rural livelihoods are inextricably linked with the natural ecosystems and low income farmers are highly vulnerable to changes in ecosystem services. Their health, wellbeing and financial security are under threat from many directions such as unreliable supplies of clean water, increasing salinisation of soils and arsenic-contaminated groundwater, 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 live there to make more informed choices about how best to reduce this vulnerability.



The ESPA programme is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as part of the UK’s Living with Environmental Change Programme (LWEC).