Academic journal article Human Organization

The Application of International Resettlement Policy in African Villagization Projects

Academic journal article Human Organization

The Application of International Resettlement Policy in African Villagization Projects

Article excerpt

It is now widely agreed that anything less than consciously planned and implemented development for resettled people will leave them worse off. Compensation is not up to the task of restorative, let alone just, resettlement. But what happens when, as in the case of smaller scale, but widely occurring, projects involving resettlement, the "development" projects do not give rise to significant new resources, thereby effectively making resettlement with development impossible? Smaller scale villagization type projects with an agricultural/land reform/political reorganization agenda are widespread in Africa. They have been/are imposed in recurring fashion on rural areas by succeeding governments, typically involving short-range resettlement, limited capital investment and assistance, and loss of local autonomy in relation to land use. The paper provides case studies from South Africa and Zimbabwe. It will be shown how these ongoing interventions and responses have directed the developmental, social, and resettlement dynamic in the resulting settlements - as well as raising crucial implications for whether, and how, we are best to apply international resettlement policy in such situations.

Key words: resettlement policy, villagization, development interventions, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Most problems are caused by solutions.

- Eric Sevareid

Formulating the Problem

This paper seeks to assess the appropriateness of international resettlement policy to a widespread form of resettlement that has been and is still taking place across significant parts of Africa. Using Southern African case material, the paper seeks to unpack the policy-cumdevelopmental logic of villagization schemes and then to relate this to the considerations espoused by international resettlement policy.

Nationally coordinated villagization schemes have displaced at least 25 million people in Africa since World War II (de Wet and Fox 2001 ). These schemes have usually arisen in relation to broader political-cum-developmental agendas, such as modernization (see below) and have generally had predominantly negative socioeconomic results for those who have been moved (de Wet 1 995). These large resettlement undertakings have taken place within widely differing agendas and competencies to implement. The outcomes on the ground have, therefore, varied significantly but have predominantly left people worse off than before.

International resettlement policy, as it has emerged since the early 1980s, has arisen in response to the lack of any specific resettlement policies, or adequate provision for those resettled, on the part of most countries. Such policies (e.g., World Bank, International Finance Corporation [IFC]) start out with the stated assumption that resettlement is to be avoided; where this is not possible, it is to be minimized. Where resettlement is seen as unavoidable, it must involve genuine participation and consultation; with indigenous peoples, this is to involve informed, prior consent. Resettlement is to be consciously planned as an upfront development exercise that will leave the resettled people better off than before.

This is embodied in guidelines and policy documents such as: (1) The World Bank (2001 - revised 2011) Involuntary Resettlement Policy OP 4. 1 2, paras 2b, 6c, 1 0; (2) The African Development Bank (2003) Involuntary Resettlement Policy, sections 3.1, 3.2, 3.3; (3) The IFC (2012) Policy on Environmental and Social Sustainability, Performance Standard 5: Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement, sections 9, 28.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement emphasize avoidance and minimization of displacement, as well as the "right to an adequate standard of living," rather than the active improvement of the situation of displaced persons (Principle 19, para 1, in Kälin 2008:82). This is understandable, given the assumption that one is dealing with a temporary situation. …

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