Alark Saxena, PhD

2012 TRI Fellow in India

Evaluating the resilience of local livelihood strategy of forest village communities climate variability in Central India


Climate change, due to its impacts on social and ecological systems, has been identified as the single most important environmental threat and an overarching sustainable development issue that the world is facing today. In recent climate negotiations, developed countries have promised an Adaptation Fund worth $30 billion to help developing countries adapt and/or become resilient to climate change. However, defining spending priorities and distribution of funds is difficult due to the complexity of dynamic interactions among large number of interdependent social and ecological factors. This research is focused on developing a framework that incorporates qualitative and quantitative information to better understand such social-ecological dynamics. The DFID Livelihood framework, along with the System Dynamics modeling technique is being used to evaluate the resilience of forest village livelihood strategies to impacts of climate variations in central India. First two parts of the research focused on understanding and collecting data on key drivers of village dynamics. The third part of research followed the emergent questions from previous analysis. 

In the follow-up research, data was collected from seven villages of a Panchayat on their livelihood strategies through survey questionnaires. Data about past and present natural resource use conditions through focus group discussions was also collected. Interviews were conducted with local government officials to understand the decision making process for responding to climate shocks. Stories around past weather patterns were collected across the village. The collected information is being analyzed. Preliminary analysis suggests that local communities have been handling diversity of variability for a long time and hence have the capacity to adapt. The role of government in preventing shocks from variability in poor communities is important. Results of the analysis will be used in further enhancing the System Dynamics based livelihood strategy model which is considered as the final product of doctoral research.