Negotiating livelihoods in an urban hinterland: A study of fishing households at Thung Sang lake, Khon Kaen province

This article is based on the authors’ original research aiming to explain how urbanization affects livelihoods of rural people in the hinterland, and how these people adapt and negotiate for survival and wellbeing. Qualitative research was conducted in a village located in the immediate hinterland of Khon Kaen city in the Northeast Thailand. Semi-structured, unstructured and group interviews, as well as observations were used to collect data, which were then displayed, interpreted and verified before tentative and final conclusions were made.
The research found that urban expansion and a public lake development project have resulted in the marginalization of poor landless fishing families. The marginalization process had two facets, namely the non-participative inclusion of fishing households into the development process and the exclusion of fishing households by imposing the legitimacy of the development project and state law on the people. This process denied the people’s access to and control over the natural resources of the lake, thereby creating more poverty. The study of fishing households’ livelihood strategies found that these households were involved in social and economic negotiations and adaptation.
The article summarizes five important livelihood strategies which contributed to the people’s survival and well-being, and suggests ways to mitigate negative impacts and enhance positive impacts of development projects.