Can river communities benefit from resettlement? | Land Portal

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The forced resettlement of river basin communities because of dam construction is a highly controversial process. It can be justified only if plans are implemented to enable resettlers to raise their living standards. They should be involved in all stages of project decision-making including project identification and, if a dam is selected, in project planning, implementation and monitoring.In the past,
people could express their concerns about dams and resettlement schemes to
project authorities, but this rarely had much impact. Today, the preferred
approach is partnerships with local people to involve them in all aspects of
resettlement, preferably as project shareholders and co-project managers.
research reviews recent trends of forced resettlement. Dam construction projects
can benefit local people by sharing the financial gains of a project, considering
local culture to enable more appropriate selection of sites, and assisting the
resettlement process. The research includes the rights of indigenous
communities who have often been subject to cultural discrimination during
resettlement planning and have not had any influence on resettlement policies.
There are
significant cultural, political and economic barriers to successful
resettlement schemes. The research shows:

The increasing diversity of
communities makes it difficult to ensure that everyone has opportunity to
participate in discussions and planning.
Project developers often overlook
cultural factors, such as traditional work activities and belief systems.
Promoting economic development and
improving living standards following resettlement are usually the most
difficult tasks.
An irrigation scheme included in dam
projects can be important for improving the living standards of resettled
populations and other nearby communities. It should be planned to achieve
multiplier effects that will provide additional employment opportunities
for resettlers.
Over-reliance on compensation leaves
resettlement communities impoverished once the compensation ends. Cash
compensation can also result in conflict between and within communities
and between individuals within households.

Giving more
power to displaced people during the planning process is essential for
effective resettlement. This includes planning of irrigation systems, selecting
appropriate sites for resettlement and identifying suitable economic and
culturally appropriate opportunities. If possible, dams should be situated in
locations that avoid resettlement. Where resettlement is unavoidable, projects
must benefit both construction companies and the local community to be
successful. Such scenarios will need participation of and partnership with the
local community.
The research makes
several recommendations to ensure resettlement projects benefit poor people:

each project, consider a wider range of energy and water resource
development options. Should a dam be selected, minimise resettlement as
much as possible.
resettlement is unavoidable, plan for affected people to become project
finance for communities to recruit the necessary experts, such as lawyers,
engineers and health experts.
understanding of local knowledge, values and lifestyles. Development
projects must balance new opportunities with culture and traditions.
resettled people with irrigated land and employment opportunities to
complement traditional rainfed agriculture.
resettled communities have access to common property resources and
opportunities, such as reservoir fisheries, tourism and employment

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Thayer Scudder


Aims to make policymakers and on-the-ground development managers aware of the latest and best in British development research findings. Offers policy-relevant findings on critical global development issues, drawn from over 40 major UK-based economics and social studies departments and think-tanks, together with a wide range of NGO research departments and consultants.

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eldis (ELDIS)

Eldis is an online information service providing free access to relevant, up-to-date and diverse research on international development issues. The database includes over 40,000 summaries and provides free links to full-text research and policy documents from over 8,000 publishers. Each document is selected by members of our editorial team.

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