Project : Reducing resettlement and relocation risk


Project : Reducing resettlement and relocation risk

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Project detail:
Status: Completed
Countries: India, Uganda
Tags: climate risk, climate vulnerability, disaster risk management, cities

Densely-populated urban centres are often exposed to multiple climate-related hazards. Floods, heat waves, cyclones, landslides and other events often have significant impacts on people's lives and livelihoods, particularly those of the poor. Risks are exacerbated by the changing climate and unplanned urbanisation. If unmanaged, these risks can undermine hard-won development gains.

Many national and local governments are resettling people who live in areas affected by climate-related disasters. Resettlement can occur as part of national level programmes to move people out of high-risk areas, or as part of a local government development plan. This is often accompanied by the upgrading of vacated areas to reduce risk, or to change land use, with implications for those left behind or still living in the surrounding area.

Relocation and resettlement may reduce a region’s future climate-related disaster risk, but can also increase people’s poverty and vulnerability. The processes for making and implementing decisions on post-disaster relocation, pre-emptive resettlement and on-site upgrading play a large part in determining whether outcomes are socially just, and whether they actually reduce future risks for individuals, urban regions and society as a whole.

While urban resettlement programmes are widespread, the social and economic impacts of resettlement and relocation on individuals, society and urban regions are not well understood either by experts or by those enacting them.

This research, carried out by University College London's Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and the Latin American Social Science Faculty (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)), examined the various social and economic implications of climate-risk related resettlement and relocation policies in cities across three continents. It sought to understand the political, economic and institutional contexts in which resettlement takes place; the costs and benefits of resettlement from both the government and individual’s perspective; and how resettlement impacts people’s well-being and resilience over different time frames. The research compared approaches and identified which policies and practices for climate-related resettlement deliver the most beneficial outcomes.

There are several factors which differentiate relocation and resettlement. As defined for this research, resettlement is a major integrated, comprehensive movement of people and families which normally involves significant distance between the origin and new location. Resettlement involves not only new housing and services but also new social and economic relations, and new challenges such as access to work and social cohesion. Relocation, meanwhile, refers to short-distance, non-systematic movements of families or individuals from hazard-prone locations to nearby areas. Relocation therefore involves less upheaval in terms of access to work and social networks. This research has considered both.

The framing and approach to policy engagement was tailored for each country (Uganda, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and India), and informed by a steering committee including relevant government representatives. Outputs include a decision framework and training materials for use by local governments involved in the process of resettlement.

Updates and resources

The Indian component of this project was covered in the July 2015 Issue of, published by the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI).

CDKN funding: £410,000

Project partners: Led jointly by Garima Jain at IIHS and Cassidy Johnson at DPU