Link Pack #14: Kerala, poverty pathways, and coping strategies


In the Field, a promising development podcast from India (do check them out in case you haven’t already), open their second season with a great episode on Kerala – the poster child of development in India and where it is today. Includes discussions on

  • how Kerala’s development trajectory has meant different things for men and women (differences in expectations, women still seen as conduits of ‘economic outflows’ despite being key sources of remittances – think Malayalee nurses).   
  • the 2018 floods and whether Kerala’s development has come at the cost of its environmental security. 
  • future development pathways for Kerala (a knowledge economy? but what of changing aspirations?)


There is a new special issue in Environment and Development Economics, which has a series of papers examining the links between poverty and climate change. In the introduction to the special issue, Hallegatte et al. (open access) highlight how climate change can push people into poverty (e.g. through direct losses such as floods eroding assets) and can also block people escaping poverty (e.g. a drought undermining farm incomes). We have known these linkages for some time now but given the scale of the data presented in the papers and the current ‘moment of opportunity’ climate change research is witnessing, makes reiterating some of these findings. I found particularly interesting, Angelsen & Dokken’s paper examining role of environmental income (income from products extracted from non-cultivated (wild) areas) in coping with shocks. They find:

“Among the income-generating coping strategies, extracting more environmental resources ranks second to seeking wage labor. The poorest in dry regions also experience the highest forest loss, undermining the opportunities to to cope with future climate shocks.”

Angelsen, A. & Dokken, T. (2018:257)

What this means is that while natural resource extraction is detrimental to dealing with climate shocks, poor people continue to do so because it generates income. Sobering and something we continuously see whether in competitive groundwater extraction across South India, or the degradation of pasturelands in dryland areas. 

Published by Chandni

Environmental social scientist @iihsin Research climate change adaptation, livelihoods, development. Book hoarder, plant lover, doggo devotee.

One thought on “Link Pack #14: Kerala, poverty pathways, and coping strategies

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