Rural poverty and environmental degradation in Latin America
This was a research project aimed at studying the relationships between rural poverty and environmental management and degradation, with a view to generating information that can be used to formulate public policy.
The research comprised ten case studies in different agro-ecosystems in seven countries of the region covering several locations in the Andes, low humid tropics, temperate zones and a dry tropical zone. All cases used a similar methodological approach and analytical tools, allowing for several generalizations. A constant and important result in all cases has been the impossibility of determining the characteristics of the management of the environment and resources in general by the poverty levels of the producers.
The strongest relationship of environmental management and its consequences on the condition of resources seems to be with the type of production systems and not with poverty levels. However, assets such as high levels of education, security of ownership and the use of certain ancestral practices linked to social capital, play a preponderant role in the good management of the environment, beyond the levels of poverty based on monetary income and the degree of satisfaction of basic needs and minimum living conditions.
An important observation was the absence of evidence that poverty prevents technological change.
The technological solution
This project was an analytical study that was not oriented to the generation of technological solutions. However, the methodology and analytical tools used can be replicated in similar studies.
Poverty levels were established in the study areas and related to indicators of resource management and production practices. Empirical information showed a negative relationship between levels of tangible assets and degrees of poverty and between assets and productive practices and income generation strategies. No evidence was found of a relationship between population density and poverty levels or between population and practices that degrade the environment. It was shown that poverty does not prevent technological change. Assets condition the components of production systems and management practices that promote sustainability or not, depending on the conditions of each agroecology. In general, it is agricultural practices and production systems that are more related to resource conservation than the poverty levels of producers. It is suggested that policies should promote education, property rights, access to services, infrastructure and innovation in the rural areas.
The direct beneficiaries of this study are the policymaking entities aimed at reducing rural poverty and natural resource degradation. Extension and rural development agencies are also beneficiaries. In the long term, producers will benefit.
Sustainable Development Goals
- Corporación Red Internacional de Metodologías de Investigación (RIMISP) - Chile
- CIES - UCV - Venezuela
- Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP) - Perú
- CONDESAN - Perú
- Corporación Colombiana de Investigación Agropecuaria (CORPOICA) - Colombia
- ECOFORCA - Brasil
- GIA - Chile
- Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE) - Perú
- Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) - Chile
- Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) - Argentina
- UdeC - Colombia