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Poverty and Reefs

3. Changing benefit flows and increasing vulnerability

3.1 Introduction

For many millions of poor coastal people, coral reefs provide a diversity of benefits on which they may depend throughout the year, during particular seasons or intermittently during their lives. Many poor people rely on these benefits as a keystone resource or critical safety net in times of hardship. In this way, the benefits provided by the reef enable the poor to cope with vulnerabilities, keeping many people out of extreme poverty and providing them with livelihood stability. As described in the previous Chapter, these benefits are accessible to some of the most disadvantaged groups, such as female-headed households and the elderly.

However, the ability of coral reefs to continue to provide benefits to the poor is changing. Throughout the world, the capacity of coral reefs to offer a buffer against adversity and provide livelihood stability is being eroded as a result of a wide range of factors that influence the poor’s access to, and use of, reef resources. Consequently, many of the poor dependent on reefs are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
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