The causes and consequences of livelihood strategy change among long-term refugee households: The Tibetan Rabgayling Settlement

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Large, Patrick John
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of livelihood strategy change among long-term refugee households drawing upon the case of the Tibetan Rabgayling Settlement in Karnataka, India. Multiple causes specific to a context of displacement and universal to rural communities are identified. Household-level modifications of productive activity portfolios in response to such forces are revealed as divergent-accumulative income trajectories based upon increases in migration activities and impoverishing income trajectories based upon persisting dependence on agriculture and low return non-farm local activities. This is shown to produce a tension between 'economic security' and 'socio-cultural security' as the movement required for income enhancement eliminates the benefits of retention within a homogenous ethnic, linguistic and religious community. The attendant spatial disintegration that such a scenario engenders is regarded as a major risk to the sustainability of the settlement and the critical capacity it provides for the socio-cultural continuity of a refugee population. Future development practice must therefore focus on building assets and widening the enabling environment for the achievement of sustainable settlement-based livelihood strategies.

livelihood strategy, long-term refugee households, Tibetan Rabgayling Settlement, Karnataka, India