The impact of global, future change on the lives of Tonle Sap inhabitants

The University of British Columbia –

Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Cambodia’s Mekong basin, is an integral fisheries resource for Cambodians’ livelihoods, food security and trade. UBC IOF scientists Dr. Louise Teh and Dr. Rashid Sumaila, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Guelph, Université Paul Sabatier and University of Battambang, investigated the economic impacts of global change on households around Tonle Sap, many of which engage in fishing. They explored current and future vulnerabilities of Tonle Sap inhabitants by examining their livelihood activities – their jobs or income sources – and responses to different scenarios of future change.

“We found that many inhabitants are highly vulnerable to future change, as our results indicated that the majority of respondents face economic losses across all scenarios of future change,” said lead author Teh. “This emphasizes the need to sustain lake fisheries, which is crucial for supporting current and future livelihoods, and also for improving the adaptive ability of households.”

Inhabitants were grouped based on their livelihood: fishing only, fishing with other work like farming, and non-fishing work. While households near the lake usually fish with some income from other work, many of the poorest households depend on one livelihood, typically fishing.

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