Soil salinity, household wealth and food insecurity in tropical deltas: evidence from south-west coast of Bangladesh.
Szabo S., Hossain MS., Adger WN., Matthews Z., Ahmed S., Lázár AN., Ahmad S.
As a creeping process, salinisation represents a significant long-term environmental risk in coastal and deltaic environments. Excess soil salinity may exacerbate existing risks of food insecurity in densely populated tropical deltas, which is likely to have a negative effect on human and ecological sustainability of these regions and beyond. This study focuses on the coastal regions of the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh, and uses data from the 2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey and the Soil Resource Development Institute to investigate the effect of soil salinity and wealth on household food security. The outcome variables are two widely used measures of food security: calorie availability and household expenditure on food items. The main explanatory variables tested include indicators of soil salinity and household-level socio-economic characteristics. The results of logistic regression show that in unadjusted models, soil salinisation has a significant negative effect on household food security. However, this impact becomes statistically insignificant when households' wealth is taken into account. The results further suggest that education and remittance flows, but not gender or working status of the household head, are significant predictors of food insecurity in the study area. The findings indicate the need to focus scholarly and policy attention on reducing wealth inequalities in tropical deltas in the context of the global sustainable deltas initiative and the proposed Sustainable Development Goals.