Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Natural Capital and Poverty Reduction

Funded by USAID

Throughout the developing world, common-pool resources such as forests, pastures, and water resources contribute in important ways to the well-being of rural populations. Field studies show that income from resource extraction accounts for up to half of total livelihood for many rural households. The importance of resource extraction is amplified in the presence of risk, and such risk is expected to intensify as future climate change precipitates more extreme weather events, especially in marginal agricultural areas. These observations motivate several questions that we are examining using a range of household and market survey data from Malawi, Uganda and elsewhere. These questions include: how important is the safety-net role of local natural resources for households experiencing idiosyncratic and covariate shocks? How does reliance on the commons for shock coping vary by household socioeconomic characteristics, market forces, and geographic factors? How does climate change influence these outcomes and how does resource use create feedbacks into the climate system? These are all questions with high policy relevance in the developing world and are closely related to national-government strategic policy objectives in our countries of focus.

During the past year the team has embarked on data collection to better document and understand the markets for charcoal and timber products and how household participation in these activities is influenced by weather risk and agricultural capacity. Three graduate students at Purdue are involved in the project: Christopher Chibwana, John Mazunda and Patrick Ward. Collaborators include researchers at Makerere University (Uganda), the University of Malawi, the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.


Gerald Shively, Agricultural Economics

Contact Information

Purdue University
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
MANN 105
West Lafayette, IN 47907