Measuring Livelihoods and Environmental Dependence

CIFOR’s Principal Economist, Sven Wunder, discusses why this book was produced, and what is covered in the book.

Thousands of surveys on rural livelihoods in developing countries are conducted every year. Unfortunately, many suffer from weaknesses in method and problems in implementation. Quantifying household dependence on multiple environmental resources such as forests, bush, grasslands and rivers is particularly difficult and often simply ignored in these surveys. The results therefore may not reflect rural realities.

The ‘hidden harvest’ from natural resources is too important to livelihoods for development research, policies and practice to ignore. Fieldwork using state-of-the-art methods, especially well-designed household questionnaires, becomes an imperative to adequately capture key dimensions of rural welfare. This book describes how to do a better job when designing and implementing household and village surveys for quantitative assessment of rural livelihoods in developing countries.

The book draws heavily on PEN experiences, and is a major output of the PEN project. Seventeen of the 19 contributors to the publication have been involved in PEN as partners or resource persons. The book deals with the entire research process from vague research ideas, formulation of specific hypotheses, data needs, design of surveys and questionnaire, data collection, data management and analysis to presentation of results; it is enriched by numerous practical examples from the field. The book should provide an invaluable guide to methods and a practical handbook for students and professionals.

Arild Angelsen, Helle Overgaard Larsen, Jens Friis Lund, Carsten Smith-Hall and Sven Wunder (eds) 2011 Measuring livelihoods and environmental dependence: methods for research and fieldwork. London: Earthscan.

‘This volume provides an invaluable guide to the relationship between poverty, environment and how people benefit from natural resources.’ — K. Brown

‘This book shows how researchers can do it [household income surveys] right.’ — D. Kaimowitz

‘This book provides a solid methodological foundation for designing and implementing household and village surveys.’ — B. Campbell

‘This brilliant collection of analyses will have a lasting impact.’ — A. Agrawal