Spatial and temporal dynamics of multidimensional well-being, livelihoods and ecosystem services in coastal Bangladesh

Adams, Helen and Adger, Neil and Ahmad, Sate and Ahmed, Ali and Begum, Dilruba and Matthews, Zoe and Rahman, Mohammed Mofizur and Streatfield, Kim (2017). Spatial and temporal dynamics of multidimensional well-being, livelihoods and ecosystem services in coastal Bangladesh. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852179

Delta regions are probably the most vulnerable type of coastal environment and their ecosystem services face multiple stresses in the coming decades. These stresses include, amongst others, local drivers due to land subsidence, population growth and urbanisation within the deltas, regional drivers due to changes in catchment management (e.g. upstream land use and dam construction), and global climate change impacts such as sea-level rise.The ecosystem services of river deltas support high population densities, estimated at over 500 million people globally, with particular concentrations in Southern and Eastern Asia and Africa. A large proportion of these people experience extremes of poverty and are severely exposed to vulnerability from environmental and ecological stress and degradation. In areas close to or below the poverty boundary, both subsistence and cash elements of the economy tend to rely disproportionately heavily on ecosystem services which underpin livelihoods.Understanding how to sustainably manage the ecosystem services in delta regions and thus improve health and reduce poverty and vulnerability requires consideration of all these stresses and their complex interaction. This project developed methods to understand and characterise the key drivers of change in ecosystem services that affect the environment and economic status in the world's populous deltas. This was done through analysis of the evolving role of ecosystem services, exploring the implications of changes for the livelihoods of delta residents, and developing management and policy options that will be beneficial now and in the future in the face of the large uncertainties of the next few decades and beyond.The extensive coastal fringe of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta within Bangladesh were selected as the pilot study area for this work. This is because Bangladesh is almost entirely located on one of the world's largest and most dynamic deltas. It is characterised by densely populated coastal lowlands with significant poverty, supported to a large extent by natural ecosystems such as the Sunderbahns (the largest mangrove forest in the world). It is under severe development pressure due to many growing cities, eg Khulna and the capital, Dhaka. At present the importance of ecosystems services to poverty and livelihoods is poorly understood. This is due to due to the complexity of interactions between physical drivers, environmental pressures and the human responses to stresses and the resultant impacts on ecosystems. Government policy rarely takes up the ecosystems services perspective and as a result an holistic overview of their value is often overlooked. This project aimed to address this gap by providing policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people's livelihoods. The project took a holistic approach to formally evaluating ecosystems services and poverty in the context of changes such as subsidence and sea level rise, land degradation and population pressure in delta regions. This approach was tested and applied in coastal Bangladesh.

Data description (abstract)

This dataset is part of the Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. Populations in resource dependent economies gain wellbeing in many forms from the natural environment. The dimensions of well-being range from material aspects associated with income and consumption, through to health outcomes and perceived life satisfaction. Both well-being, and ecosystems that provide many aspects of material and subjective well-being, have high temporal and spatial variation. We designed and implemented a questionnaire survey to collect data on material, subjective and health dimensions of wellbeing in the context of natural resource use, particularly agriculture, aquaculture, mangroves and fisheries in delta environments in Bangladesh and administered the survey to 1500 households. The questionnaire included questions on factors that mediate poverty outcomes: mobility and remittances; loans and micro-credit; environmental perceptions; shocks; and women’s empowerment. The data are stratified by socio-ecological system to take into account spatial dynamics and the survey was repeated with the same respondents three times within a year to incorporate seasonal dynamics. The dataset includes salinity of drinking water and blood pressure, height and weight of men, women and children. In addition, the household listing includes basic data on livelihoods and income for approximately 10000 households. Interdisciplinary analysis of the data demonstrates the spatial and temporal dynamics of wellbeing in the context of natural resource dependence in low income countries.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Adams Helen King's College London
Adger Neil University of Exeter
Ahmad Sate International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Ahmed Ali International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Begum Dilruba International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Matthews Zoe University of Southampton
Rahman Mohammed Mofizur International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Streatfield Kim International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
Sponsors: NERC
Grant reference: NE/J000892/1
Topic classification: Natural environment
Demography (population, vital statistics and censuses)
Social stratification and groupings
Society and culture
Keywords: ecosystem services, poverty, well-being (health), bangladesh, deltas, Livelihoods
Project title: Assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in populous deltas
Alternative title: ESPA
Grant holders: Neil Adger
Project dates:
31 March 201230 September 2016
Date published: 27 Sep 2016 11:43
Last modified: 14 Jul 2017 13:27

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