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Is Shrimp Farming a Successful Adaptation to Salinity Intrusion? A Geospatial Associative Analysis of Poverty in the Populous Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna Delta of Bangladesh

  • Mukhopadhyay, A.
  • Lázár, A. N.
  • Hornby, D.
  • Hutton, C. W.
  • Amoako Johnson, F.

The Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna delta of Bangladesh is one of the most populous deltas in the world, supporting as many as 140 million people. The delta is threatened by diverse environmental stressors including salinity intrusion, with adverse consequences for livelihood and health. Shrimp farming is recognised as one of the few economic adaptations to the impacts of the rapidly salinizing delta. Although salinity intrusion and shrimp farming are geographically co-located in the delta, there has been no systematic study to examine their geospatial associations with poverty. In this study, we use multiple data sources including Census, Landsat Satellite Imagery and soil salinity survey data to examine the extent of geospatial clustering of poverty within the delta and their associative relationships with salinity intensity and shrimp farming. The analysis was conducted at the union level, which is the lowest local government administrative unit in Bangladesh. The findings show a strong clustering of poverty in the delta, and whilst different intensities of salinization are significantly associated with increasing poverty, neither saline nor freshwater shrimp farming has a significant association with poverty. These findings suggest that whilst shrimp farming may produce economic growth, in its present form it has not been an effective adaptation for the poor and marginalised areas of the delta. The study demonstrates that there are a series of drivers of poverty in the delta, including salinization, water logging, wetland/mudflats, employment, education and access to roads, amongst others that are discernible spatially, indicating that poverty alleviation programmes in the delta require strengthening with area-specific targeted interventions.

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