Seminar by Shashank Deora and Archana Chandola

Seminar by:Shashank Deora and Archana Chandola,Researchers,Vikasanvesh Foundation (VAF), Pune

Subject:Trends in the Contribution of Commons-Based Livelihoods to Economies of Rural Households

Friday, 3rd January, 2020 at 4.30 pm in the Seminar Hall of the Institute.


Common pool resources (CPR) play a significant role in the lives of the rural poor in India. The definition and conceptualisation of commons differ widely among the community, government systems, legal system and other involved stakeholders. Given the context of changing rural landscape, especially post-economic liberalisation, the status of CPRs in rural areas is also changing and with similar effects on the dependence of the households. As the land area under CPR is continuously decreasing, the dynamics between access to CPRs and usage of resources as well as institutional mechanisms are also in flux.

The VAF research study assessed the changes in dependence on CPRs of the rural community for livelihood activities and the factors driving these changes. The study also focused on understanding the current regime of CPR, its access, management and governance systems with the perspective of the rural community.

This study was carried out in a multi-location format, from which the findings have been consolidated. The study area for this multi-location research falls in six districts across four states of central and eastern India – Araria and Saharsa in Bihar, Barwani in Madhya Pradesh, Palghar and Wardha in Maharashtra and Bastar in Chhattisgarh.

A total of 31 villages were selected within the seven study districts. Selection of these districts and the villages therein was made through purposive sampling with the only selection criteria that a sufficient diversity of the common pool resources systems is captured from the different agro-ecological regions. From these 31 villages, a total of 386 households were selected through convenience sampling and traditional natural resources related to the land, water (both surface and groundwater) and forest were considered. Data for the research was collected through questionnaire surveys and focused group discussions. Descriptive analysis and inferential analysis have been carried out on the data collected in order to identify the changes in the status of CPRs and people’s dependence on these for their livelihoods and the management practised around these resources by the community.

Over the last ten years, the dependency on forests and grazing land have decreased with an increasing dependency on groundwater aquifers has increased. The key factors include stringent state regulations, encroachment and privatisation, improved intensive agricultural practices and availability of alternate livelihood opportunities for the rural households. The relevance of the CPRs for the livelihood of rural households is shifting to other sources in the study areas thereby having implications on the conservation, management and sustainability of the resources.

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