Soil erosion in developing countries: A socio-economic appraisal
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Soil erosion is the single most important environmental degradation problem in the developing world. Despite the plethora of literature that exists on the incidence, causes and impacts of soil erosion, a concrete understanding of this complex problem is lacking. This paper examines the soil erosion problem in developing countries in order to understand the complex inter-relationships between population pressure, poverty and environmental-institutional dynamics. Two recent theoretical developments, namely Boserup's theory on population pressure, poverty and soil erosion and Lopez's theory on environmental and institutional dynamics have been reviewed. The analysis reveals that negative impacts of technical change, inappropriate government policies and poor institutions are largely responsible for the continued soil erosion in developing countries. On the other hand, potential for market-based approaches to mitigate the problem is also low due to the negative externalities involved. A deeper appreciation of institutional and environmental dynamics and policy reforms to strengthen weak institutions may help mitigate the problem [CAB Abstracts 2003].