Pandemic as a lens: Assessing impacts of the lockdown on rural livelihoods

Authors: Divya Gupta*, , Harry Fischer, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala. Sweden
Topics: Development, Asia
Keywords: COVID-19, Lockdown, Livelihood Security, Coping Strategies, India, Nepal
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 6:25 AM / 7:40 AM
Room: Virtual 17
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the midst of the current pandemic, a national lockdown during which social distancing along with constrained movement that was imposed to control the spread of Covid-19 impacted the lives and livelihoods of the rural population in varied ways. Drawing data from 16 villages of Himalayan India and Nepal, we find that the lockdown had severe impacts on the income-generating activities in our study areas, including both farm and non-farm based livelihoods. While farm-based livelihoods were primarily disrupted due to the constraints on movement, the non-farm based livelihoods were disrupted due to the temporary shut down of the informal sectors providing employment on a daily wage basis. The uncertainties created due to the lockdown were unique; they created unprecedented challenges for rural livelihoods, there is also evidence of traces of unique livelihood opportunities created due to the very nature of the lockdown. In this study we document livelihood coping strategies and mechanisms to understand how they are different from the traditional mechanisms and the risks and opportunities they create for the population in our study area in the long run. Through our research, we provide frontline lived experiences that have been largely missing from mainstream reporting on Covid-19. We believe a deeper understanding and assessment of the impacts of rural livelihoods is crucial for mitigating current and future risks of the pandemic.

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