Quantifying farm household resilience and the implications of livelihood heterogeneity in the semi-arid tropics of India

The vast majority of farmers in the drylands are resource-poor smallholders, whose livelihoods depend heavily on their farming systems. Therefore, increasing the resilience of these smallholders is vital for their prosperity. This study quantified household resilience and identified livelihoods and their influence on resilience in the semiarid tropics of India by analysing 684 households. A resilience capacity index was devised based on the composition of household food and non-food expenditure, cash savings, and food and feed reserves. The index ranged from 8.4 reflecting highly resilient households with access to irrigation characteristics, to -3.7 for households with highly limited resilience and low household assets. The livelihoods were identified through multivariate analysis on selected socioeconomic and biophysical variables; households were heterogeneous in their livelihoods. Irrigated livestock and rainfed marginal types had the highest and lowest resilience capacity index with the mean score of 0.69 and -1.07, respectively. Finally, we quantified the influence of livelihood strategies on household resilience. Household resilience was strengthened by the possession of livestock, crop diversification and access to irrigation. Low resilience is predominantly caused by low household assets. The resilience capacity index and derived livelihood strategies helps to understand the complexity of household resilience, and will aid in targeting technology interventions for development.