Oxford University wins grant to explore links between poverty alleviation and ecosystem services in the Bay of Bengal Delta

Oxford University has won a project grant for £327K as part of a large Consortium Grant Project “Assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in populous deltas” (ESPA Deltas),  focusing on the Bay of Bengal Delta region of Bangladesh.

Photo by Frances Voon

ESPA Deltas is an international, multi-disciplinary and multi-partner project which will examine the relationship between poverty alleviation and ecosystem services in deltaic environments, with particular focus on coastal Bangladesh. In the densely populated coastal fringe of the vast Ganges-Brahmaputra-Megha Delta poverty is widespread and rural livelihoods are closely linked with the natural ecosystems. Low-income farmers face multiple threats such as unreliable water supplies, increasing salinisation of soils and arsenic contamination of groundwater.

The overall goal of the project is to build an integrated analytical framework for deltaic systems that is applied in Bangladesh and transferable to other populous deltas. Elements considered will include morphodynamics, water quality and quantity, primary productivity and fisheries, agricultural production, mangroves and human health and well-being. The project is highly multidisciplinary and involves engineers, natural and social scientists, lawyers and policy analysts and a range of stakeholders.

ESPA Deltas is led by Professor Nicholls at the University of Southampton. Professor Paul Whitehead and Dr Fai Fung, from Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment will be modelling the rivers upstream of the Delta – the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Meghna – to assess impacts of climate change, land use change, water diversions and dams on flows and nutrients arriving into Bangladesh from India and the Himalaya. Scenarios will be developed to assess future changes in ecosystem services and their links to poverty alleviation. These will be used to explore policy interventions for reducing poverty and increasing human well-being.

The project has been funded under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

A Research Fellow position is available for the project, based at the University of Southampton. Further details here.


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