Agricultural livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh under climate and environmental change – a model framework†
Coastal Bangladesh experiences significant poverty and hazards today and is highly vulnerable to climate and environmental change over the coming decades. Coastal stakeholders are demanding information to assist in the decision making processes, including simulation models to explore how different interventions, under different plausible future socio-economic and environmental scenarios, could alleviate environmental risks and promote development. Many existing simulation models neglect the complex interdependencies between the socio-economic and environmental system of coastal Bangladesh. Here an integrated approach has been proposed to develop a simulation model to support agriculture and poverty-based analysis and decision-making in coastal Bangladesh. In particular, we show how a simulation model of farmer's livelihoods at the household level can be achieved. An extended version of the FAO's CROPWAT agriculture model has been integrated with a downscaled regional demography model to simulate net agriculture profit. This is used together with a household income–expenses balance and a loans logical tree to simulate the evolution of food security indicators and poverty levels. Modelling identifies salinity and temperature stress as limiting factors to crop productivity and fertilisation due to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as a reinforcing factor. The crop simulation results compare well with expected outcomes but also reveal some unexpected behaviours. For example, under current model assumptions, temperature is more important than salinity for crop production. The agriculture-based livelihood and poverty simulations highlight the critical significance of debt through informal and formal loans set at such levels as to persistently undermine the well-being of agriculture-dependent households. Simulations also indicate that progressive approaches to agriculture (i.e. diversification) might not provide the clear economic benefit from the perspective of pricing due to greater susceptibility to climate vagaries. The livelihood and poverty results highlight the importance of the holistic consideration of the human–nature system and the careful selection of poverty indicators. Although the simulation model at this stage contains the minimum elements required to simulate the complexity of farmer livelihood interactions in coastal Bangladesh, the crop and socio-economic findings compare well with expected behaviours. The presented integrated model is the first step to develop a holistic, transferable analytic method and tool for coastal Bangladesh.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Editors Choice: Planetary Health