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CREED Paper #12: Poverty and Environment Linkages in Mountains and Uplands: Reflection on the 'Poverty Trap' Thesis

Author(s) Sanjeev Prakash
Date 1997-02-01
Theme(s) None
Method(s) None
Serie(s) Creed Working Papers


The central premise of the poverty trap thesis claims that there is a mutual and spiralling relationship between poverty and environmental degradation. The argument maintains that, mainly due to inherent short time horizons and risk, poverty encourages overexploitation of the physical environment which results in further impoverishment. Using both conceptual and empirical material, this paper examines some of the major linkages that are believed to exist between the processes of poverty and environmental degradation, with a focus on the Western Himalayan Regions of India - the state of Himachal Pradesh and the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh. In particular, the paper investigates whether the relationship is functional or causal, and assesses the role of other factors, particularly institutions and social and cultural influences. The concern with poverty in rural mountain areas reflects the importance of these regions internationally: mountains and uplands represent the majority of the Food and Agricultural Organisation's (FAO) "critical zones" - those areas of the world that are not able to grow enough food to feed their inhabitants adequately. Hence some of conclusions reached here will be of relevance to similar geographic regions of the world.


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