Livelihood and Common-Pool Resources. A Study of Thini Village, Mustang, Trans-Himalayan Region of Nepal
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Agriculture and livestock rearing are the major livelihood earning activities of many people of Trans-Himalayan villages of Nepal, which are not possible without relying on the availability of and the accessibility to Common-Pool Resources (CPRs) such as forest, water and pastureland. Focusing on Thini village, Mustang district of Nepal’s Trans-Himalaya, this study aims to explore the livelihood situations of the villagers, which set a main objective as “how do villagers sustain their livelihood in a situation of formally regulated CPRs. It further dismantles as (a) what are the major earning sources of the villagers? (b) How do villagers’ major earning sources relate and rely on the CPRs? And (c) how do villagers perceive the existence of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and its regulation of the CPRs? Getting insights primarily from qualitative research methodology, interview, observation, field conversation and photo elucidating techniques were applied to collect primary information. Eric R. Wolf’s (1966) concepts of funds i.e. fund of reproduction, fund of rent and fund of ceremonial have found suitable while analyzing the livelihood of the villagers. He says that a peasant (a rural cultivator) is not evolving merely to produce grains to sustain his and his family’s livelihood in a strict biological sense (fund of reproduction) but he must also set aside time for several social as well as religious practices as a part of his and his family’s survival (fund of ceremonial). Similarly, a peasant must earn to pay taxes to the state or government, and if a peasant does not own the land, must pay rent to the landowner (fund of rent). Likewise, Tor H. Aase’s (1998) local dialectic approach has been applied to see the changes in a community or society over space and time. He believes that societal changes take place interacting between social organization (practice, behaviour), social structure (norms, rules) and culture (meaning) over space and time in a dialectical process. Some theories related to Common-Poor Resources (CPRs) have also been reviewed and applied in the present study. Though agriculture is practiced by all the villagers, most villagers lack sufficient agriculture production, which they fulfil by rearing livestock, running tavern, selling vegetable, apple, dehydrated apple, locally made alcohol (raksi), working as a wage labourer, and a mule driver. Very few villagers are earning from migration. Though the region is famous for tourism, Thini villagers lack much direct benefit from it. Agriculture and livestock are the major earning sources of the villagers while making their living, which are not possible without the availability of and the accessibility to the CPRs. Villagers need forest for pastureland and fodder for their livestock, firewood for their household use, humus, litter, and compost for the agriculture. Some villagers collect tree leaves to construct the roof of their house. Villagers need water for irrigation and drinking purposes. Thus, it is found that villagers are absolutely relying on CPRs for their agriculture and livestock activities. However, at present, the CPRs are being managed by Conservation Area Management Committee (CAMC), which is formed by ACAP – a conservation-cum-development project, established in 1993 in Jomsom - which previously were being managed by villagers themselves. Since the management of CPRs has changed, there are confrontations between villagers and the project. Even though ACAP has done some important development and awareness programme such as construction of trail, water reservoir, drinking water pipe distribution, help to construct fences for the agriculture fields; villagers’ are not satisfied with ACAP/CAMC mainly because it does not distribute poorji (a permission letter to cut the timber from the forest) in time.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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