Impacting livelihoods through institutional innovations: income and food security from the Indian Forest Rights Act

This study analyses primary level household and village data collected from forested areas in three states in India for mapping the potential of The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 in addressing poverty alleviation and income generation needs of tribal and forest dwelling communities. The Forest Rights Act, 2006 is as an institutional innovation that seeks to restore the rights of forest dependent households, whose customary and hereditary rights have been eroded over the years. Tribal populations are among the poorest in the country today. The analysis establishes the continued significance of access to land and forest resources in impacting livelihoods, including food security, through multiple pathways. It emerges that proper implementation of the FRA has the potential to address poverty alleviation for this historically disadvantaged population, constituting a critical juncture for the economy. It can potentially impact thorough multiple channels including the de-escalation of tensions arising from lost customary rights.