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An indicator framework for assessing livelihood resilience in the context of social–ecological dynamics

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Livelihood resilience draws attention to the factors and processes that keep livelihoods functioning
despite change and thus enriches the livelihood approach which puts people, their differential
capabilities to cope with shocks and how to reduce poverty and improve adaptive capacity at the centre
of analysis. However, the few studies addressing resilience from a livelihood perspective take different
approaches and focus only on some dimensions of livelihoods. This paper presents a framework that can
be used for a comprehensive empirical analysis of livelihood resilience. We use a concept of resilience
that considers agency as well as structure. A review of both theoretical and empirical literature related to
livelihoods and resilience served as the basis to integrate the perspectives. The paper identifies the
attributes and indicators of the three dimensions of resilience, namely, buffer capacity, self-organisation
and capacity for learning. The framework has not yet been systematically tested; however, potentials
and limitations of the components of the framework are explored and discussed by drawing on empirical
examples from literature on farming systems. Besides providing a basis for applying the resilience
concept in livelihood-oriented research, the framework offers a way to communicate with practitioners
on identifying and improving the factors that build resilience. It can thus serve as a tool for monitoring
the effectiveness of policies and practices aimed at building livelihood resilience.

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