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Salinity intrusion and food security : evidence from three food systems in south-western Bangladesh

Bangladesh is susceptible to salinity intrusion into water and soil during the dry season in the country's south-western region. Climate change is expected to exacerbate this situation, allowing salinity to penetrate into further inland. Some scholars have suggested that salinity has deleterious impact on rice production but favours shrimp production. Yet it is unclear what effect this would have on peoples' food security. This research, therefore, assessed food security, encompassing dietary quantity and quality, seasonality and food vulnerability of households, basing their livelihoods on three prevalent food/farming systems - traditional rice, export-oriented shrimp and innovative mixed (rice and shrimp) systems. Five study areas in southwestern Bangladesh were explored, depicting differential salinity exposures: two each from shrimp and rice and one from mixed systems. Five representative villages were chosen and households were selected using simple random sampling. A questionnaire survey of 385 households provided socio-economic and demographic data, and five focus groups revealed seasonal patterns in food security. Results suggest that despite its clear importance, salinity intrusion is not responsible for significantly restricting or enhancing their food security; rather farming system plays the major role. While the extent of food insecurity is lowest in the mixed system, with shorter hungry season, it is considerably high in the shrimp system. Agricultural labourers are the most food insecure and vulnerable class in all systems, their condition being worst in the shrimp system. Results show that high proportion of marginal, small and medium landholders/farmers remain food insecure and vulnerable in the higher-income generating shrimp system. The corresponding proportions are lower in rice system and lowest in mixed system. Intriguingly, food security in the mixed system is not undermined under moderate salinity exposure; rather it offers the best food security and least food vulnerability among the three systems. The results have important policy implications for food security under climate change.
CreatorsMunim, Khandaker Mohammed Ashraful
PublisherUniversity of Leeds
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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