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Poverty and Reefs

3.4 Changing Livelihood Strategies

In response to changing access to reef benefits and consequent changes in livelihood outcomes, poor reef-dependent communities adopt a variety of different livelihood strategies, ranging from persisting with existing strategies and simply coping, to the modification of existing strategies or the adoption of altogether new strategies. In each case the strategy adopted will impact the ultimate livelihood outcome, which in turn will impact the choice of livelihood strategy in a series of change and response (Figure 27). For example, where strategies have been modified, such as through increased exploitation or destructive exploitation, this will have a negative feedback on the long-term sustainability of livelihood outcomes, which may in turn result in people seeking entirely new alternatives, either close to home or at a distant location that require them to migrate.

The changes in livelihood strategies, or the way people use their resources, is likely to affect different people in different ways. Those people with access to alternative resources, or support systems, such as family networks or public service support, will be the quickest to adapt and may often profit from change. However, the poorer members of a community are often those with little choice or access to alternatives and whose support systems are weak. So the poor are often slow to adapt to change and can easily be marginalized by change. DFID-funded research in the post-harvest fisheries sector has revealed that while many changes have brought improvements to people’s lives, often changes are taking place so quickly that the poor are unable to adapt (Box 34).
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