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Impacts of the East West Economic Corridor on local livelihoods and forest resources in Mekong River region: case studies of selected forest-dependent villages in Viet Nam, Laos and Myanmar

Introduction

The establishment of the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) has been considered as a motivation for developing and promoting the regional economic integration among Lower Mekong Basin countries. The EWEC could bring benefits to some places and stakeholders, such as generating employment, increasing trade and investment, facilitating agricultural production and tourism. However, it could also adversely affect certain groups, most importantly disadvantaged communities. Forest resources are subject to increasing pressure due to the expansion of intensive cash crops, illegal logging, infrastructure development, and population growth.

Research objectives

A limited literature which is available on the EWEC focuses primarily on its contribution to economic development, particularly the amount of trade and investment, the number of factory establishments, and tourists crossing the borders. However, there has been no study assessing the EWEC impacts on local livelihoods, social, and environmental issues. This research project fills that gap by investigating the effects of the EWEC development on local livelihoods and forest resources in selected forest-dependent villages in Viet Nam, Laos and Myanmar.

Research questions

[1] What are the EWEC impacts on local livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, particularly vulnerable groups? 

[2] What are the EWEC impacts on forest management and the access of local populations to forest resources?

[3] What policies should the relevant governments adopt to ensure that vulnerable groups IN forest-dependent communities, particularly of women and ethnic minority groups, maintain access to the forest resources that support their livelihoods?

Research areas

The study areas include Huong Hoa district of Quang tri province in Viet Nam, Savanakhet province in Laos, and Kyaikmaraw town in Myanmar.

Methodology

A sustainable livelihood framework will be used as an analytical framework. The study will use a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to assess the EWEC impacts on local livelihoods and forest management by using key informant interviews, focus group discussions, household questionnaire surveys and historical profiles of villages.