Capturing the value of coastal ecosystem services for poverty alleviation in East and Southern Africa

This project was part of the ESPA scoping phase, which ran between 2008 and 2011. The resulting application for further funding was unsuccessful.

In Africa, coastal systems are estimated to provide goods and services in excess of US$500 billion annually (Glavovic, 2000). Coastal ecosystem services have therefore great potential for poverty alleviation for coastal communities and for contributing to national economic growth.

This project supported the development of a new consortium and a strong research proposal that built on the experience of coastal zone management programmes. In particular, the focus was on how to capture the value of coastal ecosystem services for poverty alleviation in East and Southern Africa would bring new ideas and perspectives to management, governance and poverty alleviation programmes.

The Partnership and Project Development phase focussed on reviewing existing methodologies for identifying key drivers of degradation of coastal ecosystems and for estimating the economic value of key coastal ecosystem services in collaboration with poor coastal communities. The potential for the development of bioeconomic models was explored that could analyze (1) tradeoffs between different functions; (2) optimal strategies to deal with risk and uncertainty; and (3) the role of coastal ecosystems as sources of livelihoods for the local population.

Methods to enable the identification of key ecosystem services for the poor and for poverty alleviation included poverty profiling of selected case study communities (informed by livelihoods analysis), participatory research methods through which services were identified and ranked, and changes over time discussed, and key informant interviews. Potential use of participatory methods in both ecological research and economic valuation were also explored through the project development to contribute to new methodological approaches. Institutional analyses enabled identification of key institutions through which access was mediated to coastal resources and which constrained or enabled access by the poor. Such analyses were informed by environmental entitlements framework (Leach, Mearns and Scoones 1999; Nunan 2006) and interactive governance (Kooiman 2005).

The team communicated via the web-based platform, Ning, to enable the efficient sharing of documents, draft text and ideas, and team members were encouraged to enable inter-disciplinary sharing so that the research project was fully integrated rather than a set of individual, disciplinary projects. The team met for one week in Maputo and Dar es Salaam to bring the draft documents together into a clear research proposal, met with potential research users to incorporate their views into the research design and identified clear capacity building needs and strategies of Southern partners.

Commitment to the management of coastal ecosystems through addressing both ecological and social objectives already existed in East and Southern Africa (Glavovic 2006; Gustavson et al. 2009). More understanding, however, of the ecosystem services of priority to the poor and to poverty alleviation strengthen the capacity of these initiatives to deliver on poverty alleviation and resource sustainability.

The coastal regions of Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa provided substantial services to the local and national populations, with artisanal fisheries being of particular importance to coastal communities. Due to the fact that this was the place where land met water, the coast was a special and distinctive system where a range of considerations - biophysical, economic, social, cultural and institutional - interconnected in a manner that called for a dedicated and integrated management approach (DEAT, 2000; Glavovic, 2000).

Lead Principal Investigator
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Country: United Kingdom
Co Investigator
Organisation: University of Dar es Salaam
Country: Tanzania, United Republic of
Co Investigator
Organisation: Wageningen University
Country: Netherlands
Co Investigator
Organisation: University of the Western Cape
Country: South Africa
Co Investigator
Organisation: University of Cape Town
Country: South Africa
Co Investigator
Organisation: University of Tromsoe
Country: Norway