land acquisition and resettlement

Development projects often require the acquisition of land and, as projects are developed in populated areas (including both rural and urban areas), they present the potential to induce the dislocation and resettlement of people who occupy or use that land.

Project proponents are as result required to negotiate with and compensate local people as they acquire land on which to develop projects.

Project-related land acquisition or restrictions on land use can result in physical displacement (relocation or loss of shelter) and/or economic displacement (loss of assets or access to assets that leads to loss of income sources or other means of livelihood) of local people.

Projects with a large physical footprint often result in both forms of displacement – and can affect households, community facilities, sacred sites, artisanal miners, agricultural producers, harvesters of land or marine resources, as well as various types of businesses.

The World Bank’s Operational Policy 4.12 on Involuntary Resettlement (OP 4.12) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability provide guidance relating to community consultation for land acquisition activities. The IFC performance standards have been adopted by major international project lenders, and it is therefore expected that projects will be developed in accordance with these standards and relevant national regulations (which are increasingly aligned with international standards).

IFC Performance Standard 5 (PS 5) addresses land acquisition and resettlement.

Objectives of PS 5 include the avoidance or minimization of displacement by exploring alternative project designs, as well as the minimization of adverse social and economic impacts resulting from land acquisition or land use restrictions. Disclosure of information and participation of affected communities should take place throughout all phases of the resettlement process – including planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation activities, as well as relocation and livelihood restoration.

Consultation and engagement

Effective resettlement planning and implementation requires regular consultation and engagement with project stakeholders, including:

  • Economically or physically displaced households and businesses;
  • Host communities;
  • Government agencies responsible for approving resettlement plans;
  • Civil society organizations;
  • Resettlement committees (typically comprising representatives from affected communities, local government, etc.);
  • Project contractors; and
  • Project lenders.

Resettlement planning and implementation activities require and generate large volumes of data.

This data relates to a range of project stakeholders and activities, and different information is generated in each phase of the resettlement process. It is therefore essential for a stakeholder information management system to be set up as early as possible in project planning, and with a view to being utilized during the entire life of the project.

Census and Surveys

Data generated by socio-economic surveys/census and assets inventories provide a detailed overview of the households and assets affected by a project.

This data is crucial in the development of a Resettlement Policy Framework (RPF).

A ‘cut-off’ date regarding eligibility for resettlement support and compensation is established at the time of the census. This must be done in order to discourage speculative in-migration and the establishment of new dwellings or other structures. Information about the ‘cut-off’ date must be well documented and disseminated throughout the project area via public consultation meetings and widespread communication.

Resettlement Planning

As per PS5, significant participation of communities should take place in resettlement planning – particularly in the selection of resettlement sites.

Vulnerable groups must be identified and involved in consultation activities. Resettlement involving indigenous populations triggers additional consultation requirements, as per IFC PS 7 (Indigenous Peoples) – which may include obtaining free, prior, and informed consent prior to displacement taking place.

Input from community stakeholders should be considered in the development of Resettlement Action Plans (RAPs), which are developed for each project facility and must be consistent with principles outlined in a RPF. RAPs must contain summaries of all information disclosure and consultation activities conducted.

Livelihood Restoration

In order for resettled households to re-establish economic activities which will allow them to maintain or improve their standard of living, a Livelihood Restoration Framework (LRF) and in some cases Livelihood Restoration Plans (LRPs) are developed. Activities carried out typically include the re-establishment of gardens or farms, introduction of improved farming methods, and employment or business training.

Livelihood restoration involves multiple communications with affected households and other stakeholders over a significant period of time. Ultimately, it is expected that displaced households will be able to restore or improve their pre-project living standards and integrate in the host communities.

Image Credit:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.