Displacement, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reparation and Development [as a result of dams]

Displacement, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reparation and Development [as a result of dams]

Reviews recent practices relating to displacement, resettlement, rehabilitation and development of people negatively affected by the construction of dams, in order to locate the global experiences in dam induced displacement and understand the socio-political context of displacement and resettlement. Further, the assessment focuses on how legal and regulatory instruments facilitating displacement and involuntary resettlement have performed in safeguarding the rights of affected people. This review then identifies the essential principles of good practices that would constitute a 'successful', displacement, resettlement, rehabilitation and development program. A framework to facilitate a process of negotiation between State and the displaced people and legal instruments and remedial action necessary to ensure accountability on part of governments and facilitating agencies for accomplishing negotiated resettlement goals are presented.

Key findings include:

  • Generally, displacement as a result of acquisition is legally sanctioned while there is no legal framework that governs the process of displacement itself: the land acquisition law protects the sanctity of what causes displacement (i.e., the dam) but not the displaced. In the absence of legal safeguards to ensure accountability on the part of the State, resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) entitlements promised often by executive order have rarely been implemented in its entirety covering all affected people
  • For the dams funded by multilateral development institutions the nature and extent of compliance of 'mutually' agreed criteria and guidelines have been mixed. Frequently, monitoring missions were either inconsistent in their appraisal of compliance standards or accepted undue delays and deviations
  • A theme common in almost all countries is that funds for R&R program were inadequate
  • The concept of programming resettlement as development programme mode is gaining currency though practice is limited. ‘Good practices’ in this respect are those that (a) focus on means of livelihood rather than on assets; (b) assume an inclusive relationship between people and assets; and (c) admit of a negotiated definition of ‘just’ compensation. The record indicates that in those cases in which compensation packages were negotiated with PAPs and other stakeholders, the process has resulted in better outcomes for the resettlement process as a whole. Even when, for whatever reason, the negotiated form of compensation proves not to be the most appropriate or effective option, PAPs tend to feel more satisfied, as a result of the negotiation process, as attested by the Zimapan resettlement program in Mexico.
  • There is an inverse relationship between scale of displacement and extent of achieving successful resettlement outcomes even in countries with best policy, institutional capacity and political commitment to do proper resettlement. There are a few good examples of minimising displacement
  • Generally, participation of the affected people has been superficial or treated as unimportant by those responsible for the project. Real participation implies the capacity to influence or even modify decisions. Good practices from Brazil, Canada and other countries offer significant learning value for the WCD have emerged from the case studies and submission to the WCD
  • In several countries, the indigenous and tribal peoples displaced by large dams seem to have experienced higher level of landlessness, unemployment, indebtedness and hunger. The studies have also documented adverse impact of displacement on women and children. Only situations where loss of land and access to natural resources were replaced with sustainable resources women had opportunities to recover their social and economic worth and respect.
  • Some of the specific dominant themes emerging from displacement literature are:
    • The displaced and affected people rarely received complete and authentic information on the dam project, nature and extent of displacement and other negative impacts, and R&R provisions
    • Absence of baseline surveys, inability to determine number of people displaced and affected. The displaced and affected people normally did not have any role in generation of baseline information, development of resettlement plans or its implementation and monitoring.
    • Traumatic forced and delayed relocation; denial of development opportunity for years, and often decades due to long displacement process
    • Problems (related to infrastructure, relationship with host communities, etc.) in resettlement sites
    • Loss of livelihood of people living in downstream not properly assessed and compensated.

Concludes that a ‘successful’ resettlement with development is a fundamental commitment and responsibility of the State. No development project can result in complete alienation of the rights, customary and legal, of people through payment of a one-time compensation or facilitated relocation. On the contrary the process must result in the creation of new rights that will render people direct beneficiaries of the development project. Just as displacement is not an inevitable consequence of infrastructure development resettlement need not necessarily result in impoverishment. Central to positive resettlement and rehabilitation will be the empowering of people particularly the economically and socially marginalised as a result of both the process and outcomes of resettlement with development. [author]

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