Istiakh Ahmed, Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson, Huq, S.
Jordan, J.
Van Der Geest, K.


Taylor and Francis Online.

Year of Publication:


This paper aims to understand how environmental stressors influence people’s livelihood options in the coastal belt of Bangladesh. We argue that environmental stressors such as cyclones, riverbank erosion, salinity intrusion, and floods have negative impacts on people’s lives by reducing their livelihood options. Twelve in-depth interviews (Livelihood Histories) and twelve Focus Group Discussions (FGD) based on two Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools (Village Timeline and Contextual Change) were carried out in three different sites in coastal Bangladesh were conducted under the study. Our study finds that when there are insufficient adaptation strategies to environmental stressors, many people turn to livelihoods banned by the government. These ‘illegal livelihoods’ include using fine mesh nets to collect shrimp fry in the rivers as well as logging in the Sundarbans. These people are often the poorestand vulnerable, and law enforcement only exacerbate their vulnerability. We end by concluding those that have turned to ‘illegal livelihoods’ as a result of detrimental environmental stressors should be viewed as a special category of vulnerable people by policymakers, and steps need to be taken to ensure resilience to different environmental stressors.

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