Food security and livelihoods of post-resettlement households around Kanha National Park

Neelakantan, Amrita; DeFries, Ruth S.; Fanzo, Jessica C.

Globally, conservation efforts have moved millions of people out of protected areas since the 1970s, yet quantitative studies on post-resettlement well-being remain a challenge due to poor documentation. Since 2008, the Indian forest department records demographic and financial details at the household level under standardized guidelines for resettlement. Here, we examine the food security of approximately 600 households’ post-resettlement from Kanha National Park (KNP) in central India between 2009 and 2014. We compare food security of resettled households with host community households with a total of 3519 household surveys, conducted over three seasons within one year. We measure food security using food consumption scores (FCSs), coping strategies index (CSI) and household hunger scale (HHS). Food insecurity is widespread in the landscape, with over 80% of households reporting poor or borderline FCSs year-round. Additionally, we recorded food insecurity increases in monsoon for all households regardless of resettlement status. Results indicate that resettled households are comparable to their host community neighbors in FCS and all households use mild coping strategies to combat food insecurity. While widespread, food insecurity in the KNP landscape is not acute with very few (<10) reports of severe hunger (as measured by the HHS). Almost all foods are market bought (>90%) and sometimes supplemented by gathering locally prevalent greens or from kitchen gardens (forest dependency for food was negligible). Accruing assets and diversifying incomes from non-labor avenues would alleviate food insecurity for all households. The patterns of market dependence and food security associated with diversified stable incomes around protected areas is in contrast with many studies but is likely to occur in similar human-dominated landscapes.

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Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
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January 28, 2022