Remittances, Access & Adaptation: Options to Secure Rural Livelihoods in Morocco and Myanmar

Abstract: State leaders have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and pledged to leave no one behind. This thesis advances knowledge for attaining these goals, through systems thinking and place-based research in the context of climate and land-change processes in Morocco and Myanmar. It (i) advances empirical knowledge about the dynamics that shape the livelihoods of rural people, (ii) assesses what puts them at risk, and (iii) discusses how they could become more secure. It proposes a conceptual framework for studying frontier dynamics through the lens of neglect and demonstrates the utility of local knowledge methods in climate adaptation research. Papers I and II assess rural peoples’ land-dependence, livelihood strategies and associated risks, in the Chin Hills of western Myanmar. They combine cross-sectional household survey data, clustering techniques and access theory, showing that people in Chin State meet much of their needs through farming and products from forests and trees. Households who receive remittances or wages tend to fare better economically yet face additional risks from their exposure to labour markets. Discrepancies between Myanmar’s land-sector laws and communities’ customary practices imply that many households stand to lose all their land-derived income. Lacking assets, inequalities and local land-change dynamics limit some households’ land-access too. Papers III and IV draw on local knowledge research, in the latter combined with household survey data. The former captures local system dynamics and peoples’ disaster experiences to understand how climate-related livelihood risks arise. It argues that interlinked cascading effects, farming challenges and pre-existing vulnerabilities led to escalating disasters when Cyclone Komen crossed western Myanmar. The latter explores tree-based adaptation options to diversify rural livelihoods in northern Morocco. It shows that agroforestry practices are already integral to the regions’ smallholder production systems. Yet, complex barriers need overcoming, for further farm trees to be planted and maintained. Paper V draws on frontiers literature, conceptual thinking and fieldwork for Papers I, II and III to propose a novel framework for studying frontier dynamics. It shows how the workings of neglect render Chin State’s rural people vulnerable to dispossession. All papers argue for enhanced efforts to secure rural livelihoods in Morocco and Myanmar.