Abstract for: Modeling livelihood strategies of local communities in central India

Understanding impact of different policy options on complex rural systems is difficult. Sustainable livelihood framework has been used as a standard to evaluate livelihoods. However, the framework is unable to evaluate the temporal dynamics amongst factors that create livelihood opportunities. System Dynamics can complement the framework by identifying dynamics between factors responsible for livelihood opportunities. This article showcases System Dynamics modeling of household livelihoods by using the case of rural household in central India. The model (Livelihood Management System) thus developed is the first to evaluate forest dependent rural livelihoods in India. Two livelihood activities (income from forest resources and government labor) have been modeled to showcase the diversity of ecological and social dynamics in the system. Model simulation suggests that extraction of forest resources by the households is not sustainable whereas the government’s ambition to provide 100 days of income is also hard to achieve. Simulation of national park scenario suggests that the policy will have significant impact on livelihoods forcing poor households to migrate. While there are challenges in using system dynamics, the Livelihood management system showcases a promising direction to create tools for analysis of policies for complex rural social ecological systems.