Those who depend on fisheries for their livelihoods have to contend with its vulnerability to environmental degradation, climate change, natural resources depletion, and other challenges. As an important source of food and income for poor communities in the developing world, there is a need to continue to work toward sustainability and better overall management of fisheries.
The following papers highlight work being done in this field, empowering local fishing communities to conduct environmentally-sound practices that make economic sense as well.
- Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme: A Guide for the Preparation of Community Projects
- Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme Training Manual
- Literature Review of Studies on Poverty in Fishing Communities and of Lessons Learned in Using the SLA in Poverty Alleviation (FAO)
- Fisheries enhancement and participatory fisheries management in small water bodies in Burkina Faso (GTZ)
- Effects of climate change on the sustainability of capture and enhancement fisheries important to the poor (DFID)
- Structural Adjustment Policies and Sustainable Livelihoods in West African Inland Fisheries (FAO/DFID)
- Integrating Small-scale Fisheries in Poverty Reduction Planning in West Africa (SFLP)
- Post-harvest Fisheries and Poverty in Ghana (IMM Ltd)
- Financial sustainability of the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area (PREM)
Photo credits: John MacKinnon and Robert Everitt
For some nations, a single natural disaster can significantly set back development in many sectors. Valuable investments (financial and otherwise) in livelihoods, infrastructure, the environment and other areas are put at risk, if not immediately lost. The poor, however, suffer these losses firsthand, and immediately -- when an earthquake, landslide, drought, flood, tsunami or any other natural hazard strips them of shelter, food security, health, sanitary conditions and livelihoods.
Worldwide, different organizations are working at the community level, striving to improve the poor's capacity to minimize the impact of natural disasters, and strengthen preparedness for these disasters. Poverty Environment Net has been collecting reports and publications discussing disaster management programs focusing on the poor in developing countries, which include lessons learned from international case studies.
- Focusing on Community Based Disaster Management (UNCRD)
- Nepal: Participatory Disaster Management Programme (UNDP)
- The role of the IDB in meeting the dual challenge of Poverty and Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean (IDB)
- Guidelines for Reducing Flood Losses (UN ISDR)
- Floods and the Poor: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor to the Negative Impacts of Floods (ADB)
- Learning Lessons from Disaster Recovery: The Case of Bangladesh (World Bank)
- Learning Lessons from Disaster Recovery: The Case of Mozambique (World Bank)
- Surviving Disasters and Supporting Recovery: A Guidebook for Microfinance Institutions (World Bank)
- Reducing Risk and Vulnerability to Future Natural Disasters and Loss of Ecosystem Services
Photo credit: Ian Britton (FreeFoto.com)
Biodiversity, as defined by the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit, is "the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, 'inter alia', terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."
All species contribute to the ecosystem through functions they perform -- such as moderating climate, fertilizing soil, purifying water, or preventing floods. Research has shown that more diversity of life in an ecosystem helps to strengthen it against natural disasters and provide more benefits to those who depend on it. It is the disturbance of these natural relationships that could lead to serious environmental consequences.
Poor people who are overly dependent on ecosystem services for their livelihoods, nutrition, and shelter contribute to the loss of biodiversity -- but are also the victims of the consequences. Biodiversity conservation is a challenge that poverty alleviation efforts in developing countries must address.
The following publications examine the link between poverty and biodiversity:
- "Poverty, Health and Ecosystems: Experience from Asia"
- The links between biodiversity and poverty (European Commission)
- Pilot Biodiversity Corridor (BC) Program for the Lam Dong Province of Viet Nam (ADB)
- Poverty, development, and biodiversity conservation: Shooting in the dark? (Wildlife Conservation Society)
- Hunger, Poverty and Biodiversity in Developing Countries
- Biodiversity: Its Importance to Human Health, Interim Executive Summary
- Poverty Reduction and Biodiversity Conservation: The Complex Role for Intensifying Agriculture (WWF)
- Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World (UNDP)
- Biodiversity, Poverty and Urban Agriculture, in Latin America
- Reducing poverty through biodiversity (UNDP)
- Poverty-Conservation Mapping: The geography of poverty and biodiversity (IUCN)
Photos courtesy of: Halsey Street and the ADB GMS Core Environment Program
As more information about global and regional climate change is collected, studies are defining the kind of impacts the developing world can expect.
The world's poor, often more reliant on natural resources for livelihood and other needs, will need to adapt to the recognized effects of climate change -- increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, a change in rainfall patterns, or storm surges, among other events. Poverty alleviation programs, even those with no direct environmental conservation links, will need to take this into consideration to ensure that any progress made will not be lost due to the negative impacts of climate change.
Read more on Poverty and Climate Change:
- Climate change deepens poverty and challenges poverty reduction strategies (DFID)
- Effects of climate change on the sustainability of capture and enhancement fisheries important to the poor (DFID)
- Livelihoods and Climate Change (IISD, IUCN and SEI)
- Adaptation to climate change: Making development disaster-proof (DFID)
- The impact of climate change on the vulnerability of the poor (DFID)
- Gender: The Missing Component of the Response to Climate Change (FAO)
- Adaptation to climate change: The right information can help the poor to cope (DFID)
- The impact of climate change on the health of the poor (DFID)
- Poverty and Climate Change: Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor through Adaptation (OECD)
- Wealth, poverty and climate change
- The impact of climate change on pro-poor growth (DFID)
- Gender and Climate Change: Giving the “Latecomer” a Head Start (IDS)
- Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation: Gender Makes the Difference (IUCN)
- ... more Climate Change articles
Photos: Ian Gill, Essie82 (www.sxc.hu) and Ian Britton (Freefoto.com)
One approach to alleviating poverty is to concentrate efforts on people and their livelihoods. In the case of Africa, a continent that is characterized by desert, jungle and steppe regions, these livelihoods more often than not depend on natural resources, climate, and other environmental factors.
"Developing Methodologies for Livelihood Impact Assessment: Experience of the African Wildlife Foundation in East Africa" studied the impact of the sustainable livelihood (SL) approach on two case studies: the Il Ngwesi tourism lodge in Laikipia District, near Mount Kenya; and the Kipepeo Project, a butterfly-farming enterprise near the Kenyan coast.
Also in Kenya, a methodology for impact assessment was developed by the report "Applying Livelihood Approaches to Natural Resource Management Initiatives," focusing on livelihood impacts of wildlife enterprises. An exploration of how rural livelihoods affect and are affected by natural resource management (NRM) initiatives, three of the four cases were in Namibia.
"Combating Poverty from an Environmental Perspective: The Case Study of Sub-Saharan Africa" examines the effects of environmental degradation on the major determinants of poverty (livelihood, health and security). It maintains that the sub-region's low production of greenhouse gases "guarantees some hope for the region," but that better policies for environmental management must be formulated and adhered to.
The poor are disproportionately affected by water scarcity due to their greater reliance on natural resources to generate sustainable livelihoods. The report "The role of improved domestic water supply in livelihoods and poverty reduction in Limpopo province, South Africa" argues that improved domestic water access offers greater equity and food security benefits to poorer households, but the efficiency and sustainability of such a poverty reduction intervention is questioned.
Photos: stellab, andrewmill, sumeja, Daina2 (www.sxc.hu)
A significant part of UN Millennium Development Goal #7 ("Ensure environmental sustainability") is to "reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water." In the developing world, it is as much a challenge for natural resources management as it is for health and sanitation.
Despite all good intentions, it is still an uphill battle for these projects. The paper "Poverty and water supply and sanitation services" (Water Policy International) claims that the lack of universal coverage of water supply and sanitation has a lot to do with the economic fundamentals of a country, with poverty as the overriding problem.
"The Case for Water and Sanitation" (Water and Sanitation Program) argues for governments to invest in water and sanitation -- based on evidence that this leads to quantifiable benefits as well as provides a strategic tool for poverty alleviation. "Driving Development by Investing in Water and Sanitation" (SIWI) supports this further and adds "Five Facts" about the economic gains from investing in water and sanitation.
For recommendations on the way forward, "Sustainable Pathways to Attain the Millennium Development Goals: Assessing the Key Role of Water, Energy and Sanitation" (SEI) connects water and sanitation to the MDGs and presents environmentally sustainable strategies for the fulfillments of the goals.
One case study is the National Rural Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Program (African Development Bank) in Chad, wherein environmental and social activities are focusing on the water delivery to rural areas, as well as "sensitization" to water-borne diseases and other health issues.
- ADB Water for All News: "Waste Not, Want Not: Harnessing Wastewater for Economic and Environmental Gains" (March 2007 issue)
- Water and Sanitation Program
- Water Forum
Photos courtesy of ADB's Water for All
This article introduces project documents newly added to Poverty Environment Net's index.
Poverty-environment projects take on a two-fold challenge: that of balancing the demands of poverty reduction, at the same time satisfying the requirements of environmental sustainability.
To address the critical issues of sustainable management of marine and coastal resources, Philippines Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project (ADB) is implementing biodiversity conservation in 68 municipalities, including the improvement of the water supply and sanitation and solid waste management in the area.
Poverty Reduction and Water: "Watsan and PRSPs" in sub-Saharan Africa examines how water issues have been included in the Poverty Reduction Strategies of five case study countries. The project also recommends how these issues can be better integrated.
The primary objective of Brazil: Natural Resources Management and Poverty Reduction Project - Santa Catarina (World Bank) is to reduce rural poverty while improving natural resources in the area. The land degradation in Santa Catarina needs to be reversed and environment protection needs to be improved.
The Nepal: Participatory Disaster Management Program (UNDP) builds on indigenous knowledge to mobilize local communities to mitigate the effects of water disasters such as floods and landslides. It aims to influence organizations to consider disaster preparedness as a regular development activity, rather than a separate entity.
For the Pilot Project on Sustainable Development and Climate Change (OECD), case study authors identified issues and approaches relevant to addressing climate change, and also considered the role and risks of climate change within a sustainable development context. The study covered cases in Brazil, India, the West Africa region and South Africa.
International organizations are also implementing initiatives and programs to support national and/or community-based efforts to improve environmental management for poverty reduction. These include ADB’s Poverty and Environment Program and UNDP and UNEP’s Poverty Environment Initiative.
Flooding is particularly a challenge in Asia's storm-prone regions, river basins, and coastal areas. Poor communities from these areas risk losing property, livelihoods, and their own lives to extreme flooding, and helping them recover requires action on various levels -- from the home, to the community, all the way to the national government.
The following are articles and documents related to flooding and poverty recently added to the PE Net index:
"Guidelines for Reducing Flood Losses" (UN) provides a range of mitigation options that need to be considered when making efforts to reduce losses from flooding. It discusses how the hardships that result from floods can be prevented or reduced with investments in preparedness activities and other related mechanisms, including infrastructure policy development, etc.
To aid stakeholders working in development, "A Primer: Integrated Flood Risk Management in Asia" (Asian Disaster Preparedness Center) was designed. This manual provides reference material to help reduce risks and save lives threatened by flooding.
Responding to floods also starts in the household. A project in Bangladesh, "Gender Mainstreaming Processes in Community-based Flood Risk Management" (Gender and Water Alliance) focused on flood vulnerability, risk reduction and improved preparedness through community-based information. Its objectives included identifying best practices in increasing flood preparedness and information dissemination, especially for women at home.
In terms of policy, "From the Field: Flood Disaster Mitigation in the Mekong Delta" proposes that flood policy has to minimize the adverse impacts of flood damage and disruption as well as to maximize the productive use and conservation values of the floodplains. It describes a case scenario from the Vietnamese Mekong Delta.
Photos: kayagrafik and grtguru of www.sxc.hu
Without proper medical care, continued exposure of the developing world's poor to a deteriorating environment creates health concerns that become major issues in proper environmental management. Global evidence reveals that lack of access to safe water and sanitation and air pollution are the primary causes of illness and death among poor families, affecting women and children mostly.
This feature introduces articles and documents related to poverty and environmental health added to the PE Net index:
"The toll environmental degradation exacts on human health is heavy, especially for children in the poor regions of the world. In the poorest countries, one out of every five children dies before reaching his or her fifth birthday, usually because of an environmentally related -- and largely preventable -- diseases," the World Resources Institute mentions in their publication "Improving health through environmental action."
Air and water pollution contribute significantly to the health problems of the poor. "Persons with lower socioeconomic status may face higher risk from polluted air. This disproportionate burden may result from elevated exposure, due to proximity to roadways or indoor air pollution from burning of biomass, and from differences in nutrition and access to health care, among other factors," according to "Challenges and recommendations for the study of socioeconomic factors and air pollution health effects" a paper published in Environmental Science & Policy.
As climate change effects are felt all over the world, it becomes increasingly important to prepare for its effects on the poorest communities as well. The Climate and Health Fact Sheet (WHO) provides basic information, in line with the World Health Organization's programs that "combat infectious disease, improve water sanitation and services, and respond to natural disasters to help reduce health vulnerability to future climate change."
Deforestation, when left unchecked, also raises concerns. A recent publication, "Poverty, Health and Ecosystems: Experience from Asia" (ADB/IUCN), contains the case study "Deforestation and the Nipah Virus in Malaysia", which is part of a chapter that explores the effects of ecosystem events on the health of the poor. The book contains 16 case studies that document relationships between poverty, health, and natural resources management in Asia. The launch version was featured here, and the final publication will be released soon.
Publications focusing on solutions include the Environmental Health Project's "Advancing Environmental Health for Disease Prevention: Past Experiences and Future Priorities," a collection of lessons learned from five years of work on hygiene improvement and the control and prevention of malaria. "Health, Environment and Sustainable Development. Identifying Links and Indicators to Promote Action" (Epidemiology Resources Inc.) presents a framework that extends to the policy domain and recommends acting on the driving forces that generate environmental pressures.
Photos: Near a national highway in India (Richard Abrina), collecting waste in drums (ADB's Poverty and Environment Program), and women cooking in Bangladesh (Raul Del Rosario)
World Environment Day, celebrated annually on the week of 5 June, was established by the United Nations to increase awareness and stimulate action for environment matters. Each year, World Environment Day focuses on a theme and its weeklong activities held in a different city. This year's theme is "Melting Ice - A Hot Topic?" and the celebrations will be held in Tromsø, Norway.
Rising temperatures have led to the melting of ice in the polar areas and mountains. The effects are felt on a global scale, however, as sea levels rise and freshwater supply is threatened.
Aside from the risk to the polar ecosystems, the poor are also especially vulnerable to impacts of glacial melt on their livelihoods and communities. Downstream of the Himalayas, millions of people rely on glacial melt water for their everyday use. The rate that the mountain range's ice is receding, they may lose this valuable resource in less than two decades. Rapid melting accompanied with changing rainfall pattern may also increase flood in the deltas.
The rise in sea level affects not just coastal fishing communities and lowlands that rely on agriculture, but also major urban centers that are built on river deltas, where the poor often live in the fringes of coasts or rivers. Flooding in these areas opens the door to disease as well as loss of shelters and livelihoods.
These are some among many issues surrounding glacial melt. To read more about World Environment Day's topics and activities, visit:
- World Environment Day - International site
- World Environment Day - Norway site
- "The Challenges of Mountain Environments: Water, Natural Resources, Hazards, Desertification and the Implications of Climate Change"
- Grim Forecast for World Water Day (china.org.zn)
- WWF Warns Melting of Himalayan Glaciers, Water Crisis Looming (china.org.zn)
- Millions at Risk of Hunger and Water Stress in Asia Unless Global Greenhouse Emissions Cut (UNEP)
- Glacial melt alarms scientists (University of Kansas)
- "Major melt" for Alpine glaciers (BBC News)
Photo by caiosposit at www.sxc.hu