Usyd researchers receive $1.4m to explore livelihood adaptation in Laos

20 March 2012

Human geographers and international public health experts from the University of Sydney will collaborate on a three year research project aimed at facilitating livelihood adaptation to natural resource pressures in Laos. The $1.4 million research project is being funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through the Mekong Research Group (AMRC), School of Geosciences and the Sydney School of Public Health. The research team includes Philip Hirsch, Yayoi Largerqvist, Natalia Scurrah and Jessica McLean from the Mekong Research Group (AMRC) and Michael Dibley from the Sydney School of Public Health. The project, due to commence in May 2012, will also involve agronomists, resource economists and environmental scientists from the National University of Laos and work with river basin organisations to address key livelihood and environment issues related to hydropower and mining development. The research project will focus on Nam Ngum watershed, a large catchment in central Laos with a history and on-going experience of livelihood changes associated with large-scale resource development projects, namely hydropower and mining. The research will employ a range of economic, social and health measures to assess wellbeing associated with livelihood adaptation and pilot adaptation options that assist socially disadvantaged groups. By facilitating a social learning process among stakeholders at different levels, the project will build capacity of local, sub-national and national stakeholders to analyse and seek solutions to livelihood issues among vulnerable groups associated with constrained natural resource conditions. The research will also provide valuable lessons for anticipatory natural resource development planning that starts from a livelihood perspective and works within an integrated catchment framework.