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Reviewing poverty as a human-nature disaster to achieve sustainable livelihood outcomes

Ending poverty has been the world’s priority for decades. It is multi-facetted and driven by its twin partner, inequality. It impacts all spheres of human wellbeing and nature. Poor people are proportionally more exposed to environmental risks, such as degraded and polluted environments, while they are often blamed for damaging nature. This cycle of cause and effect becomes more evident when natural disasters strike. Poverty worsens any disaster situation and hence is a disaster itself. The human-nature nexus of poverty shifts the focus of response beyond social justice, to environmental and ecological justice. Despite the positive impact of social grants in reducing people’s vulnerability, it is not contributing to sustainable livelihood outcomes nor protecting the environment. The 18 million people on social grants in 2022, shows that poverty is persistent and continues to deepen because of climate change-related events and other disasters. While the poor have rights to access basic services, economic resources and opportunities for a better future, the environment equally has rights to be protected from human exploitation.

I aim to contextualise poverty as a human-nature disaster and examine how disaster management strategies can reduce poverty while protecting the environment. I will use the sustainable livelihood framework (DFID, 1999) to explore poverty from a human-nature nexus and draw from document analyses and empirical data to inform disaster management strategies and propose sustainable livelihood outcomes.





Fellows involved in this project

South Africa

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].