Livelihood strategies of people surrounding the Sundarbans mangrove forest

  • Abu Nasar Mohammad Abdullah

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This thesis investigates the livelihoods of people living beside the vast Sundarbans mangrove forest in Bangladesh. The study examines how household assets, livelihood strategies and outcomes vary among households and the roles played in those livelihoods of the mangrove resources and shrimp farming. It also examines the vulnerabilities of these livelihoods, particularly to the cyclones that periodically affect the region. Policy responses addressing these issues are also evaluated. The research is informed by the sustainable livelihood framework and is based on household surveys, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and policy analysis. The research found that lower income households depend heavily on forest resources which help alleviate poverty and reduce income inequality. Constraints on access, resource variability and attacks by pirates and wildlife were the principal vulnerabilities of the mangrove dependent households. In contrast, commercial shrimp aquaculture had widened inequality. While shrimp aquaculture was important to higher income households, particularly land-owning households, it has led to loss of agriculture, livestock and access to land of lower income households. After a cyclone, however, higher income shrimp-farming households were more vulnerable than the poorer mangrove resource collectors. The cyclone destroyed assets, displaced people and prevented delivery of services. It was concluded that polices related to forest, shrimp aquaculture and disaster are inadequate, inconsistent and irrelevant and institutions charged with resource management performed poorly with respect to livelihoods and conservation of resources. The study recommends that policy approaches be adopted that ensure equitable growth by creating a balanced asset base within a livelihood framework with multiple interventions working simultaneously. This would facilitate favourable livelihood outcomes for the households surrounding the Sundarbans and would be valuable to the managers of coastal communities in relation to poverty alleviation and promotion of environmentally sustainable livelihoods, not only in Bangladesh but in other parts of the world.
    Date of AwardJul 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorNatasha Stacey (Supervisor)

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