Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

D. Scott Slocombe

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Institutional processes, social and economic trends play a role in defining the outcomes of people’s interaction with and use of their ecosystems. The resource use decisions of households influence the livelihood and health dimensions of ecological change. This thesis identifies community assets and activities, and examines how they both affect human and ecological health, productivity and community sustainability. It studies the relationship between changing biophysical conditions and community well-being in terms of health and livelihood by examining how agro-ecosystem based resource use systems influence community environmental change and vulnerability to health and livelihood problems inherent in their ecosystem. Three communities in the East Mamprusi District of Ghana provide the setting for this study. The findings point to a growing consequence of intense agro-ecosystem-based livelihood activities: environmental changes, which contribute to the decline of food production and poor health resulting from poor nutrition. The utilization of the predominantly natural assets is influenced by biophysical conditions and socio-economic issues that shape that state of a communities’ ecosystem. Decline in quality and abundance of assets that have been a means of keeping wealth as well as meeting expenditures such as medical expenses, food and school fees, is also attributed to the transformation of community resource tenures and policies, increasing incidence of animal mortality from chemicals used in spraying farms crops and the decline in grazing land, while household wastewater is a source of breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which cause malaria. It is argued that improvements in health (both human and ecosystem) and the sustainability of livelihoods have to focus on the creation of livelihood and environmental opportunities which enable communities to adapt to risk of the weather and expanded their livelihoods and prosperity beyond dependence on the shrinking natural resource base. In essence, bridging the gap between rainy season farming and dry season idleness by farmers could take the form of initiating vegetable gardens, but this option should be explored against the environmental impacts that the creation of small dams may cause to communities. Furthermore, there are prospects for livelihood and well being to be considerably enhanced from increased investment and management of plantation activities involving tree crops such as shea and cashew, which offer an emerging source of income for communities in the district.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season