Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Natural resources and poverty

Resources and poverty

Although agricultural sciences have enourmously contributed to increased food production and agriculture-led rural development, provision of sufficient, safe and nutritious food is still the main problem for more than one billion chronically undernourished people. In addition to this, the demand for food is likely to double within the next 25-50 years, primarily in developing countries, as the global population increases to 8-10 billion. Most of the world's poor and hungry people live in rural areas and are often farmers themselves. Rural poverty is related to a variety of causal and contextual reasons one of them being that the use of natural resources is not institutionalised sustainably. In developing countries this represents a particular challenge, because both natural resources, such as soil and water, and the actors’ capacity for crafting institutions are often scarce. Resource degradation such as desertification and the decay of indigenous institutions, for example as a consequence of violent conflicts, often even narrow the scope for institutionalising sustainable resource use. The Division of Resource Economics has studied the relationship between rural poverty and resource use from an institutional perspective, for example in Ethiopia. The research revealed that nearly 40% of the households analysed lived below poverty line. The persistence of poverty was strongly linked to entitlement failures understood as lack of households’ institutionalised resource endowments with crucial assets such as land and adequate means of agricultural production for facilitating the cultivation of land such as oxen.

More information related to the topic „Rural Poverty and Natural Resources“ please find in the following paper:

Bogale, Ayalneh, Hagedorn, Konrad, and Korf, Benedikt (2005): Determinants of Poverty in Rural Ethiopia. Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 44 (2): 101-120