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The University of Southampton

Research project: ESPA Deltas - Dormant

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ESPA Deltas: 'Assessing Health, Livelihoods, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Populous Deltas' aims to provide policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of environmental decisions on people’s livelihoods. This is being undertaken by a multidisciplinary and international team of social and natural scientists, engineers and policy analysts. They are working with local delta populations, local and national governments to formally evaluate the habitats, the people who live in delta regions and the policy that governs their livelihoods. This approach is being developed and tested in coastal Bangladesh and will be assessed for transferability in other populous deltas in India.

Worldwide, delta regions, with their large populations and ecosystems are vulnerable as they face multiple threats now and in the coming decades through stresses at global (e.g., sea-level rise), regional (e.g. catchment management) and local levels (e.g., water extraction, sediment starvation, subsidence). Collectively, these stresses result in increasing flooding, salinisation and land loss, degrading ecosystem services with adverse effects on the poor. The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta is one of the world's most dynamic and significant deltas and is at increased risk of extreme weather events and sea-level rise, coupled with rapid population growth and urbanisation.

Project Methodology

This project aims to improve the provision of ecosystem services and better define the drivers of poverty, utilising a wide range of physical and social models (e.g., climate, coastal and catchment hydrology, water quality, morphodynamics, mangroves, fisheries, demographic projections and vulnerability modelling). In addition, a new flexible integrated analysis modelling tool will be developed that can describe complex interrelationships between the physical and social environments and their drivers, and the livelihood of local populations. A key part of this project, from beginning to end, is stakeholder involvement. This is including in all stages of the research to ensure the outcomes have maximum benefit to the end-users (e.g. government, NGOs, local decision makers).

  • Quantification of links between poverty and ecosystem services
  • Integration of biophysical and socio-economic models
  • A scientific evidence base for the policy makers
  • Tools for decision makers
  • Transferable methods and models for other populous deltas

For further information please contact
Jon Lawn 023 8059 2651

The ESPA programme is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), as part of the UK's Living with Environmental Change Programme (LWEC).

Associated research themes

ESPA Deltas Project website

Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) website:

This project is attached to:


Geography and Environmental Science

Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Related research groups

Coastal Engineering and Management
Energy and Climate Change
Palaeoenvironmental Laboratory at the University of Southampton (PLUS)

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ESPA Deltas
ESPA Deltas
Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta
Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta
Fishing is a popular livelihood in the Coastal GBM delta
Fishing is a popular livelihood
ESPA Deltas team
ESPA Deltas team
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