Coupling terrestrial and marine biophysical processes with livelihood dynamics for analysis of poverty alleviation in Bangladesh
Food security and poverty in Bangladesh are very dependent on natural resources, which fluctuate with a changing environment. The ecosystem services supporting the rural population are affected by several factors including climate change, upstream river flow modifications, commercial fish catches in the Bay of Bengal, and governance interventions. The ESPA Deltas project aims to holistically describe the interaction between the interlinked bio-physical environment and the livelihoods of the rural poorest in coastal Bangladesh, who are highly dependent on natural resources and live generally on less than US$1.50 per day. Here we describe a new integrated model that allows a long-term analysis of the possible changes in this system by linking projected changes in physical processes (e.g. river flows, nutrients), with productivity (e.g. fish, rice), social processes (e.g. access, property rights, migration) and governance (e.g. fisheries, agriculture, water and land use management). Bayesian Networks and Bayesian Processes allow multidisciplinary integration and exploration of specific scenarios. This integrated approach is designed to provide Bangladeshi policy makers with science-based evidence of possible development trajectories. This includes the likely robustness of different governance options on natural resource conservation and poverty levels. Early results highlight the far reaching implications of sustainable resource use and international cooperation to secure livelihoods and ensure a sustainable environment in coastal Bangladesh.