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Household income strategies and natural disasters: Dynamic livelihoods in rural Nicaragua

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  • van den Berg, Marrit
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    Abstract

    This paper assesses the impact of hurricane Mitch on livelihood strategies of rural households in Nicaragua. Through destruction or distress sales of productive assets, a hurricane or another natural hazard could induce people with relatively remunerative livelihoods to choose more defensive strategies which allow them to survive, but at a permanently lower welfare level than before. Using panel data from before and after hurricane Mitch, we find that livelihood strategies can be grouped into three welfare categories. Annual farming and farm employment generate low incomes, whereas nonfarm wage employment and livestock farming result in relatively high incomes. Perennial farming, nonfarm self-employment and annual cropping with nonfarm employment take an intermediate position. High welfare strategies were associated with high levels of capital, and the number of people involved was very similar between different years, suggesting that households following low-welfare strategies were trapped in poverty. However, many households moved actively between strategies of different welfare levels. This indicates that there was no absolute poverty threshold, but also that being able to initiate a relatively profitable livelihood strategy was no guarantee that this strategy could be maintained. There is no evidence that hurricane Mitch affected livelihood strategy transitions: livelihood mobility was similar for households inside and outside Mitch-affected areas.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (January)
    Pages: 592-602

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:3:p:592-602

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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    Keywords: Natural disasters Livelihood strategies Nicaragua Poverty;

    References

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    Cited by:
    1. Akter, Sonia & Mallick, Bishawjit, 2013. "An empirical investigation of socio-economic resilience to natural disasters," MPRA Paper 50375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Akter, Sonia & Mallick, Bishawjit, 2013. "The poverty–vulnerability–resilience nexus: Evidence from Bangladesh," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 114-124.
    3. Jakobsen, Kristian Thor, 2012. "In the Eye of the Storm—The Welfare Impacts of a Hurricane," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(12), pages 2578-2589.
    4. Noy, Ilan & Karim, Azreen, 2013. "Poverty, inequality and natural disasters – A survey," Working Paper Series 2974, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    5. Tran, Tuyen & Lim, Steven & Cameron, Michael P. & Vu, Huong, 2013. "Farmland loss and livelihood outcomes: A microeconometric analysis of household surveys in Vietnam," MPRA Paper 48795, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ali Oumer & Andreas de Neergaard, 2011. "Understanding livelihood strategy-poverty links: empirical evidence from central highlands of Ethiopia," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 547-564, June.

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