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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Southampton researchers lead two international projects to help people out of poverty around the world

Published: 1 May 2012 Origin:  Social Statistics and Demography

Researchers at the University of Southampton, including Social Sciences, are about to embark on two international studies to improve the lives of more than one billion people who live in poverty around the world.

The University will be leading two out of the three international consortium research projects funded by the £40.5m Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme following a world-wide competition that attracted over 320 bids.

ESPA aims to deliver an improved understanding of how ecosystem services – the benefits people obtain from the natural environment – can be better managed to reduce poverty.

Work carried out by Southampton researchers will provide evidence and tools to enable policy makers around the globe and people living in the poorest areas to manage ecosystems sustainably, and in a way that contributes to poverty reduction. Crucially, the local communities suffering the worst effects of global poverty will be involved in the research process, which will offer solutions that will benefit them directly.

Both studies, which will run for four years, require a multidisciplinary approach. Academics from across the University in Biology, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, and Medicine will join together on the first study, named the ASSETS Project: Attaining Sustainable Services from Ecosystems through Trade-off Scenarios. It will investigate the ecosystem services at the forest-agricultural interface in Amazonia and Africa.

Academics from Civil Engineering and the Environment, The GeoData Institute, Geography and Environment and Social Sciences will work on the second project, which will assess the changing ecosystem services deltas provide, mainly focusing on the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Megna Delta in Bangladeshi and India.

The Social Science aspects of the ASSESTS project will be led by Professor Nyovani Madise (Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty, and Policy (GHP3) together with Dr Kate Schreckenberg (Engineering and Environment).

The research will involve surveys to understand household socio-economic status and intra-household resource allocation; seasonal calendars to map income and expenditure and food insecurity; and measuring nutritional health using anthropometry.
There will also be participatory research to understand how communities describe and rank poverty and wellbeing and their coping strategies.

A key element of ESPA projects is effective communication of with policymakers, thus engagement with local, national, and international stakeholders will form an important of the research programme.

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