Reporter 454, 19 June 2000

Project tackles needs of South Asian poor

Improving the quality of life for rural and coastal communities in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka is the aim of a three-year project launched in the School of the Environment, which will co-ordinate the work of four other UK institutions and eight environmental and development agencies in South Asia.

The project, entitled Improving policy-livelihood relationships in South Asia, is funded by the Department for International Development and sets out to identify practical ways of involving poor communities in the decision-making processes that affect their access to the necessities of life.

Dr John Soussan is principal investigator on the 259,000 project. He said: "Poor households in the field research areas will be the immediate beneficiaries - but in the long run, poor people throughout South Asia and beyond will benefit from improved policies to reduce their vulnerability."

Research in Nepal and India will look at the workings of community forestry management projects which have been operating for some years, giving poor families better access to resources and supporting economic diversification as well as providing community development structures. In coastal zones of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, researchers will study issues around land and water rights as well as natural - and human - threats to the welfare of the poor.

Water resource management at local and state levels will be studied in Bangladesh and the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

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