Article

Agriculture and Human Values

, 25:555

First online:

Livelihood change, farming, and managing flood risk in the Lerma Valley, Mexico

  • Hallie EakinAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of California Email author 
  • , Kirsten AppendiniAffiliated withCentro de Estudios Económicos, Colegio de México

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Abstract

In face of rising flood losses globally, the approach of “living with floods,” rather than relying on structural measures for flood control and prevention, is acquiring greater resonance in diverse socioeconomic contexts. In the Lerma Valley in the state of Mexico, rapid industrialization, population growth, and the declining value of agricultural products are driving livelihood and land use change, exposing increasing numbers of people to flooding. However, data collected in two case studies of farm communities affected by flooding in 2003 illustrate that the concept of flood as agricultural “hazard” has been relatively recently constructed through public intervention in river management and disaster compensation. While farming still represents subsistence value to rural households, increasingly rural communities are relying on non-farm income and alternative livelihood strategies. In this context, defining flooding in rural areas as a private hazard for which individuals are entitled to public protection may be counterproductive. A different approach, in which farmers’ long acceptance of periodic flooding is combined with valuing agricultural land for ecoservices, may enable a more sustainable future for the region’s population.

Keywords

Vulnerability Flood Livelihoods Agriculture Mexico