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Poverty and Reefs

2. An overview of reef-related benefits to the poor

2.1 Introduction

In the previous Chapter the widespread occurrence of reefs and the level of human interaction with the reef were outlined. Small-scale fisheries were used as one example of the benefit flows that reefs can provide. This Chapter identifies the wide diversity of benefit flows to reef-dependent communities, especially the poor. It uses a livelihoods approach and framework based on the DFID Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) to understand the wider benefits of reefs to all aspects of people lives. Some of these benefits arise because reefs can contribute directly to the resources that the poor have access to. These resources contribute to the building blocks of the livelihoods of the poor and ultimately to the livelihood outcomes that they aspire to. These resources can be grouped under five headings: natural, physical, financial, social and human.

In addition the reef can enhance the way the poor interact with the structures and processes that directly influence the way the poor access and use their resources. These direct influencing structures and processes emanate from government, the private sector and society. They in turn interact with the longer-term and periodically catastrophic background changes that affect the social, economic, environmental and policy context in which the poor exist. We refer to these as the indirect influencing factors.

The reef also has the potential to directly contribute to the livelihood strategies that the poor adopt to use the resources they can access, to respond to the structures and processes that influence them and to cope with the background context in which they operate. The services that the reef provides to the poor ultimately benefit them, by contributing to positive livelihood outcomes. These positive benefits are best defined and measured by the poor themselves, if they are to meaningfully represent the positive improvements in their lives.

The relationship that poor reef-dependent people have with the resources available to them, how they use these resources in the operating environment created by direct and indirect influencing factors in order to create their livelihood strategies and achieve their desired livelihood outcomes, is shown diagrammatically in Figure 7.

This section of the report focuses on the contribution of coral reefs: to the resources accessed by the poor (Section 2.2); to enhancing the interactions of the poor with direct influencing factors (Section 2.3); and to the ability of the poor to cope with the risks and vulnerabilities associated with indirect influencing factors (Section 2.4). These sections describe the many different streams of benefits to the livelihoods of the poor providing examples from around the world and from the four case studies undertaken as part of the Reef Livelihoods Assessment project.
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