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Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many? Essay (Critical Writing)


Development projects mainly include developers taking full charge of land that were in control of other groups previously. These development projects entail natural resource extraction, dam construction, renewing the urban centres, infrastructure projects like bridge, highway, and irrigation canals construction. Reviews of the available works indicate that displacement of persons due to developments focus on forceful eviction of populations from their lands so as to pave ways for development.

There are other projects that oust communities. These include wildlife reintroduction scheme, game parks creation, and biodiversity zones. The repercussions of this project development are the upheaval and displacement of communities, as well as unwanted burden to the host population. Distributive policy advocates for movements of people in areas where there are employment opportunities.

Researchers and activists define displaced populations as those people compelled or forcefully pushed out of their homes to pave a way for the development projects. This consequently results to the communities losing their homes, loss of access to common property, social disintegration, increased morbidity and mortality, food insecurity, rise in unemployment and increase in proportion of workers.

According to Scudder and Colson, people’s notion of project impacted persons is that they are only those directly displaced through loss of homes (Scudder and Colson, 1982). They objects this and includes that project impacted persons also encompasses the host population that takes the burden of accommodating displaced persons and people who live in the vicinity of the project, and project immigrants.

The latter group is the one responsible with planning, designing, and implementing the project, as well as the one those later moves to the region to enjoy the project related positive outcomes. These, Scudder notes are the parties that profit heavily from the development projects, as opposed to the two former groups that suffer economical, social, and institutional disruptions.

On the same note, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) reports highlights not only physical displacements of populations, but also emphasizes on “livelihood displacement that robs people of their means of production and displaces them from their socio-cultural surroundings” (WCD, 2000).

People that are prone to this kind of displacement are mainly nomadic populations. These groups have lost their land to private developers and governments. Conflicts arise in cases where such people claim their grazing and hunting land. Mobile groups are susceptible to displacements. They normally demand ownership of the land for their livestock and carrying out farming activities. This paper critically investigates whether the displacement of a few justifies in the case of development that will benefit many.

Global figures

Throughout the world, no exact information exists on figures of the population that suffer as a result of development induced displacement. There is no any existing document that clear illustrates the numbers of displaced at the local and international levels.

A number of researchers, activist, scholars, and policymakers rely on the figures of the World Bank Environment Departments (WBED) that gives an approximated figure of about 10 million persons every year as a result of development initiatives such as constructions of infrastructure, dams and hydro stations, urban expansion, and other development programmes responsible for displacement of people (WBOED, 1993).

This figure is high but does not offer any projections for the majorities of the displaced persons. According to the World Bank report, displacement scores always consider persons physically ousted from legally acquired land to pave ways for the underway development projects, “assuming those living in the vicinity of, or downstream, the projects, whose livelihoods and the socio-cultural environment the project are likely jeopardise” (WBOED, 1993).

A closer look at an approach that systematically reviews the global figure of displaced persons due to development projects can be significantly higher than the World Bank’s numbers. In this regard, we must recognise that the global numbers of displaced people increase due to projects related to extraction of natural resources and urban development. In this context, the numbers of displaced populations are significantly above the World Bank’s projections.

The World Bank’s report tends to provide the numbers of displaced populations based on their geographical locations. This offers policymakers and researchers to identify common patterns and projects associated with displacements. Table 1 shows information related displacements of persons and the World Bank agenda for resettlement (WBOED, 1993).

It is necessary to note that displacement as a result of bank aided projects call for only a small portion of the approximated global total, an estimated “three percent of global dam displacement and one percent of global displacement from urban and transportation projects” (WBOED, 1993).

Examples of development-induced displacement are endless. These reports note that some regions have high numbers of projects that displace majorities of indigenous populations; thus, the reports represent them than other places leading to biases in representations. Still, the numbers can occur due to publication biases.

As banks have analytical case studies, it is essential to consider “the existing resettlement planning documents, with information on scheduling, and budgets that the government and private project sponsors compile during the planning stages of a project” (WBOED, 1993).

Table 1: World Bank projects active in 1993 with resettlement, including number of people displaced (source: WBED, 1996)

Region Projects Percentage People Percentage
Africa 34 23.3 113,000 5.8
South Asia 29 19.9 1,024,000 52.2
East Asia 58 39.7 588,000 30.0
Europe /Central Asia 5 3.4 27,000 1.4
Middle East/North Africa 7 4.8 32,000 1.6
Latin America 13 8.9 180,000 9.1
Total World Bank 146 100 1,963,000 100

Projects that cause displacements

From the introduction, we realise many projects that can result into displacements. However, we shall restrict this study to three main categories of projects. These are mainly extraction of natural resources such as fossil fuels, dam construction, and urban development and renewal.

Urban renewal and development

These projects involve urban infrastructure and transportation. They displace population through claiming land with the goal of clearing slums and upgrading them, upgrading the sewerage system, hospitals, schools, ports, establishment of industrial and commercial estates, construction of communication and transport network, as well as urban centres connection.

According to the WBED, “an estimated 60 per cent equivalent to 6 million people of development induced displacement every year is as an outcome of urban infrastructure and transportation projects” (WBOED, 1993). In 1993, the World Bank report indicated that only 22.6 percent of displacement cases were due development of urban infrastructures.

Evidence from case studies concludes that the displaced populations in “individual urban and transportation projects is lower as compared to the number displaced in many enormous infrastructure projects” (WBOED, 1993).

This scenario is threatening as the global trend of urbanisation grows. In the 1980s, a portion of 15.8 per cent of population globally lived in the cities 4 million as people (WBOED, 1993). Demographers point out that this number is likely to rise to 24.5 per cent worldwide as it clicks the year 2025 and 28.2 per cent in the third world countries. However, the rural development projects have contributed to this rise as those resettled have ended up in “the cities or migrated from poor resettlement sites in search of employment” (WBOED, 1993).

Natural resource extraction

Displacements of this nature entail developments related to extractions of minerals and fossil fuels. Forests extraction projects are essential as these projects focus on conservation induced displacement. Annual statistics for population displaced as a result of natural resource extraction projects are unavailable.

However, minimal evidence and figures from the World Bank Projects identify that displacement from such projects is “significantly lower than the dam, and urban renewal development project displaced populations” (WBOED, 1993)..

Natural resource extraction projects result to limited displacements. This may be as a consequence of two factors. Projects of this nature does not cause massive displacement of populations like other urban or dam development projects. Second, these projects displacement is usually indirect.

For example, populations living near pipeline with oil seepage vacate their land for safer grounds elsewhere as this seepage contaminates drinking water and their farming land, a situation that is likely to pose as a health hazard, and with long term negative health effects.

This is the opposite of the direct displacement that is as a result of enormous infrastructure projects. Amnesty International notes that projects with rare occurrences and limited displacements of people rarely result into organised resettlement activities (Amnesty International, 2000).

Amnesty International report of 2000 critically focuses on “the oil industry and its hand in human rights abuses in Sudan, including the forceful drive out of tens of thousands of people from their homes” (Amnesty International, 2000). Government troops have ensured that people move out of “the region through utilising helicopters, gunship, bombings as well as mass execution” (Amnesty International, 2000).


The World Bank report notes that of all the development projects that result to physical displacement, “dam projects and their close associated infrastructures inclusive of power stations and irrigation canals, conspicuously stands out as the largest resultant of the displaced population” (WBOED, 1993).

This is a small outcome of the large scale of numerous dam projects. China’s Danjiangkou Dam ousted 383,000 people, and its underway Three Gorges Dam project will displace 1.2 million. The high rate of dam displacement is also a consequence of the many dams constructed 1950.

The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) gives report of 5,000 large dams constructed in 1950 and above 45,000 by the late 1990s” (WBOED, 1993).. The WBED reports show that most of the displacements occur as a result of dam constructions. In fact, dam construction accounts for more than 40 percent from a population of four million people displaced annually.

Dam related projects bear immense effects socially, economically and environmentally. Displacements due to dam constructions are direct as well as indirect. Indirect displacement impacts include “the accumulation of productive farmland and animal habitat, trapping of sediment resulting to erosion and soil loss of quality, the threat of water life habitats, resulting to the obsolescence of riverine and wetland, and human death as a result of dam failure or collapse” (WBOED, 1993). They are direct as well as indirect displacements.

Bartolome and associates report compiled to enlighten the WCD report writing process, gives a detailed discussion of present practices involving the displacement, resettlement, rehabilitation, and development of people that dams projects have negatively affected (Bartolome, L et al, 2000). It provides solutions of improving accountability and aids in negotiation, in future resettlement schemes.

Effects of displacements on development

Studies indicate that impacts of displacements relate with how the parties involved plan, bargain, and conduct displacement processes. Picciotto and associates note that the modern trend in displacement show that displacements have had both positive and grim consequences to the displaced population (Picciotto, Van Wicklin and Rice, 2001).

These scholars have identified cases where the lives of the community affected have improved, and the projects gained public approval. This was the case of China’s Yantan and Shuikou dam projects.

However, in Guatemala dam project, the story has been the opposite. Some reports indicate that during the construction of Chixoy Dam in the 1970s, the soldiers and civil patrols had to kill the populations (Maya Achi Indians) that occupied the area in order to create ways for the dam construction. It is difficult to find positive impacts of displacements. However, most displacements do not have extreme negative or positive consequences. Most results regarding consequences of displacements rely on practical cases and case studies.

There are theoretical models that attempt to explain consequences of displacements. These theories highlight the inherent risks that displaced populations may experience.

Theories to describe displacement as experienced

Most studies in displacements have relied on case studies without clear theoretical guidelines. These theories gained popularity in the early 1980s. The first theory is the one by Scudder and Colson (Scudder and Colson, 1982). This is a four-stage model that attempts to illustrate how displaced populations and socio-cultural structures react to resettlement of the displaced populations. These theorists based their work on voluntary resettlement.

According to Scudder and Colson model, the four stages include “recruitment, transition, potential development, and handing-over, or incorporation” (Scudder and Colson, 1982). During the recruitment stage, developers or policymakers formulate and provide the basis for the displacement of the population affected without their knowledge. In the transition stage, the affected populations learn about their pending displacement.

At this stage, the affected majorities experience a high level of stress. After displacement has taken place, the stage of potential development follows. At this stage, development may or may not take place. Scudder and Colson observe that the displaced persons begin “the process of resettlement and rebuilding their lives, economy and social structures” (Scudder and Colson, 1982).

The last stage is handing over or incorporation. Scudder and Colson note that this stage involves giving the project to the local community and leadership in order to enable them embrace the project. These two authors note that the conclusion of this stage results into successful resettlement.

The Scudder and Colson model concentrates on the various behavioural characteristics that are common among the stages all the displaced population experience. Initially, the focus of Scudder and Colson model attempted to explain the stages of voluntary settlement. The scholars extended the model to cover some cases of involuntary resettlement. These were the successful cases that successfully passed through all the four stages identified by Scudder and Colson.

However, this model could not adequately explain some cases of involuntary resettlement schemes. These were the cases that failed to pass through the four stages. Hence, the need for a new approach to explain the effects of involuntary relocation was necessary. The new model was necessary as cases of forced resettlement followed by impoverished statuses followed in the resettlement schemes.

In 1990s, we had Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction (IRR) developed by Michael Cernea (Cernea, 1990). This model rose as a response to impoverished conditions after resettlement. The IRR model strives to locate the impoverishment risks that are inherent due to mandatory resettlement, and any stages that the displace persons undergo in their attempts to reconstruct their livelihoods. This model differs from Scudder and Colson model as it does not concentrate on identification of various stages of relocation among the displaced persons.

The IRR model posits that there should be policies to address cases that may occur as a result of forced displacement. The theory highlights that the displaced population is likely to experience impoverishment due to conditions such as food insecurity, joblessness, landlessness, marginalisation, homelessness, community disarticulation, loss of access to property and other resources of production, and increased rates of diseases and deaths.

In references to the above risks, Downing and associates have also made their contributions to include other factors such as “loss of access to public services, disruption of formal education activities, and loss of civil and human rights” (Downing, 1996).

The IRR model extends its application to cover the effects of forced displacement to the host community. He notes that these populations may also experience impoverishment despite that they may have different conditions from those of the displaced population.

The theory notes that these conditions are not uniform in all forms of displacement, but rather they differ from one displacement to another. In addition, the effects on the families also differ significantly. This model tries to explain the reasons behind failed resettlement by relying on the common concerns displaced person experience.

The IRR model basic aim is to identify risks that displaced person experiences. In addition, the theory also serves other functions such as predictions of impoverishment, provides a solid ground for theoretical approaches to formulating study hypotheses and offer theory for guidance in studies.

At the same time, Cernea’s model also looks for alternative means of averting risks, such as the need for targeted resettlement in land, as opposed to cash compensations, health and diet safeguard, creation of jobs, and rebuilding the community’s social structures and networks.

The Cernea’s model found wide applications in most developmental studies. For instance, in India in 1996, Mahapatra applied Cernea’s model to study effects of forced resettlement that occurred between the years 1947 to 1997. He concentrated on the risks that displaced people faced. It influenced Lassailly-Jacob’s study in Africa development projects that have displaced person, which offers insights on how policymakers can eliminate the negative effects of displacement (Lassailly-Jacob, 1996).

He notes that any resettlement strategies must provide resettlement land, common land, agricultural land, title deeds for that the land, instead of squatter system or short-lived occupancy arrangements (Lassailly-Jacob, 1996). At the same time, the driving force should be resettlement of the displaced persons. This approach does not advocate forceful displacement and subsequent resettlement of people.

Conversely, De Wet has been critical on how policymakers ensure that all or majorities affected by the projects will benefit (De Wet, 2001). He is doubtful whether these policies address the needs of all displaced persons. De Wet notes that the IRR model application in resettlement is overly simplistic as a mere planning cannot solve all the problems associated with forced resettlement. However, he appreciates the thorough approach that Cernea gives the model.

De Wet further highlights some factors that may affect resettlement efforts such as political influence, inadequate institutional capacity, and financial constraints. According to De Wet, resettlement efforts should be flexible and open-ended process. He based his argument on the fact that planning rarely goes as planned.

Risks experienced by vulnerable groups

In most cases, development that cause displacement usually result into social, political, and economical effects that are severe to the marginalised and vulnerable groups. These effects mainly hit individuals and community hard. There are segments of the community that may feel the effects of displacement more than others, which implies that the consequences may not be uniform.

A study by Colchester highlights the “effects of dam developments across the globe on the local, ethnic minorities, and indigenous communities” (Colchester, 2000).

He notes that such projects mainly affect a large number of ethnic minorities and marginalised groups who form majorities in most affected areas. These are also populations whose livelihood depends on the affected areas. These populations might be insignificant in relations to the country’s entire population. However, a closer look at Indian tribe of Adavasis shows that dam projects affect at least 50 percent of them.

According Colchester, dam projects affect marginalised and indigenous populations in a number of ways that include “cultural alienation, dispossession of land and resources, lack of consultation, insufficient or a complete lack of compensation, human rights abuses, and a lowering of living standards” (Colchester, 2000). Most indigenous communities have strong cultural and environmental attachments to their land. Thus, any displacement is potentially dangerous to such groups than any other populations.

Some studies note that researchers have not done significant studies regarding gender disparities in resettlement. Still, existing works show that women experience adverse consequences of force displacement than their male counterparts. We can look at this in terms of compensation where the pay outs go to the family head. This implies that men will receive the money as children and women occupy the back space leading to issues of deprivation.

A research conducted by Agnihotri shows that there is also other forms of discrimination in compensation criteria (Agnihotri, 1996). For instance, the author noted that during compensation in Orissa, the age of the male liable for compensation started from 18 years and above, whereas the their female counterparts started from 30 years.

Still, in cases where the displacement takes place in town, most women suffer because their small businesses are normally in the centre of such areas where displacement occurs. Such effects are even severe in rural areas where women rely on common community resources for their livelihood.

Women’s participation can alter the chances of negative consequences for them. As Guggenheim noted in Mexico, women participate actively in resettlement consultations because men usually work in urban areas (Guggenheim, 1993). When involvement of women began yielding favourable results, men soon replaced them to take advantages of the offered land, cash compensation and business opportunities.

Cernea observes that there are also effects on of displacement and resettlement on children. He notes that displacement and resettlement often “affect schooling” (Cernea, 1990). The affected children may drop out of school to earn a living. Such children may also become a part of the labour force in the development project.

There are also groups consisting of the elderly and disabled persons. These groups may also experience difficulties in forced displacement and resettlement. The elderly and disabled people may not have the opportunity to participate in deciding matters such as the relocation site, or mode of compensation.

Resistance to displacement

In the last few decades, some social movements have evolved to challenge the popular displacements of due to development projects. They challenge effects of such displacement for development due to their harmful effects on the livelihood of people, social structures and the environment.

The period of 1980s and 1990s had the “largest increase in the number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)” (Guggenheim, 1993). NGOs interested covered a number of issues mainly affecting marginalised populations such as gender, human rights, democracy, elimination of poverty, indigenous rights, and the environment.

Social movements have acquired a global outlook in order to conduct successful campaigns. Such movements with the global outlooks include Via Campesina, Jubilee 2000, and Focus on the Global South among others.

These movements go beyond the local environment and include peasant farmers, indigenous populations, and marginalised groups across the global. Occasionally, these movements may involve activists, politicians, the media, and academicians. In addition, technological innovations have enhanced communications and activities of these organisations.

Some social movement advocates for the rights and privileges of forcefully displaced and resettled populations as a result of development. However, we can observe that there is no specific movement advocating for the rights of the displaced persons. Nevertheless, there are small organisations that protest against the eviction, resettlement, and uneven distribution of benefits and costs of such projects. There are others that stand to oppose the entire development project, displacement, and development, regardless of the funding organization.

We have seen many movements against constructions of dams that have severe effects on the displaced populations. These movements have achieved mixed results of both failures and successes. Gray observes that it is difficult for the government or international funding agencies such as the World Bank to alter their development agendas.

However, there are some factors that may force them to do so. These include strong resistance at the local levels, involvement of international social movements, willingness to take the local communities grievances into account, and in cases where some of the funding agencies such as banks may also oppose the projects.

Still, these conditions do not warrant that the project will be successful as was evident in Narmada Dam Project of India. Such conditions normally force the funding agency to set up commission to investigate such claims. The report of the commission determines the fate of the project.

The project may proceed if they find it viable. On the other hand, the funding agency may alter its plan if the consequences of the project are severe on the occupants of the land. It is necessary to note that international funding agencies may withdraw their supports, but the national government will proceed with the project as the case of the Narmada Dam Project.

Ethics and displacement

Studies in the field of social developments and displacement have noted that questions of ethical issues tend to rise whenever there is forceful displacement and resettlement. Issues that normally arise in displacements for developments include the moral objection of displacements, conditions justifying displacement of populations, adequate compensation for justified displacements, the amount of compensation, and sharing of the project benefits with the displaced population.

Not all studies in this area provide explicit in-depth analysis of ethical concerns involved in displacement of populations. However, Penz studies are exceptional. Most studies run to support the development or condemn it without any meaningful justifications of moral issues behind displacements and developments. In these cases, the displaced persons do not have sound and moral justifications for displacement.

Penz has been categorical in analyses of ethical dimensions of displacements. His study provides three broad areas such as self-determination, public interest and egalitarianism. This author notes that we can use this approaches to offer justifications for displacement of a few persons for the benefits of many people.

According to Penz, “public interest dimension takes into account cost and benefit analysis of the project” (Penz, 2002). This approach argues for the benefit of the entire population. In this case, displacement and the subsequent impoverishment are “the costs that a few must pay for the outweighed benefits for the majority” (Penz, 2002). Thus, these people suffer for the interest of the nation. Self-determination dimension posits that people have privileges personal and communal controls.

In this view, libertarians would argue “forceful displacement is unjust for those who own property because displacement violates their rights to property ownership” (Penz, 2002). In addition, communitarian would argue that the use of “force and coercion violates self-determination” (Penz, 2002). The egalitarian view puts it that such displacements have the ability to eliminate or reduce poverty and inequality considerably.

From a theoretical perspective, we can argue that displacements are necessary if they benefit the displaced and marginalised groups in society instead of the wealthy class. The challenge occurs when such projects can only benefit the marginalised groups at the expense of the elites. The displaced populations can get compensations. However, the egalitarian view insists that the displaced persons must also benefit from the outcomes of such projects.

To this end, we can see that displacements and development are ethically complex affairs. This is because public interest and adequate distribution of resources should precede individual’s interests, rights and self-determination. However, displaced persons have rights against some forms of displacement the government may impose. These may include the use of force, threats, coercion, and harmful strategies.

Penz conclude that there are conditions under which we can “justify displacement of populations” (Penz, 2002). However, such conditions must have strong backing and recognise the rights of the displaced persons. He notes such conditions may include “avoidance of coercive displacement in favour of negotiated settlement, the minimisation of resettlement numbers, the full compensation of displaced populations for all losses, and the use of development benefits to reduce poverty and inequality” (Penz, 2002).

However, more often than not, most displacement approaches and methods rarely meet the above conditions and the results are severe violation of human rights. Some study centres have formulated guidelines that can help in ethical issues regarding displacements of person for justified projects.

Policies and international guideline for displacement

There have been no policies and guideline in the area of developments and displacements despite that fact that multinational organisations and governments participate in such activities. The existed policies only reflected legal issues and few areas of compensation. However, these policies did not address the impoverishment and outlined resettlement that follows displaced populations.

It was the World Bank that first formulated policies in 1980 to address the issues of forced resettlement for developments that would result into displacements of populations. These policies served as guidelines for all development agencies. Cernea notes that such policies are not static, but are dynamic in nature with constant alterations, and upgrades, but their main purposes have persisted over the years.

One of such, many developments in the policy document occurred in 2001 detailing the World Bank’s experiences with forced displacements and developments.

Any latest version is an improvement of the previous versions. The World Bank policy document also caters for marginalised and indigenous populations who are the main victims of any forced displacement and development. In this regard, the policy aims at “the development process fosters full respect for the dignity, human rights and cultures of indigenous peoples” (WBOED, 1993).

Following the release of the World Bank policies and guidelines regarding such involuntary displacement and resettlement, a number of other funding agencies have formulated their policies. These include the Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Africa Development Bank’s Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Unit (PSDU).

We have also noticed that most governments are slow in formulating policies that guide displacements for developments. However, the World Bank has used its resources to push most countries to adopt such polices for effective transitions in any such projects. As a result, most countries now have such policies as a part of the country’s constitutions regarding human rights and property ownership.

Taking into account the private sector practices, there are many initiatives that have appeared to regulate such private entities. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developments (OECD) has formulated its guidelines concerning “human rights, sustainable development, and the environment for corporations operating in or from one of its member countries” (Penz, 2002).

In addition, other multinational organisations such as the UN have also formulated such policies so as to assist in issues regarding standards human rights. There are serious challenges with existing policies as these policies are not legally binding any parties involved in involuntary resettlement and displacement of persons.

Consequently, non-binding statuses of these policies leave them ineffective and not fit in defence of human rights. Some scholars note that such documents are useful in situations where there are voids that need such policies. This was the case for mining firms in Andean Peru and the affected communities, for which the World Bank policies fulfil such requirements.

The World Commission of Dams (WCD) has formulated the best practices regarding the suitability of major projects in developments of dams including displacements of populations and resettlement. The WCD has noted some areas of concerns such as “inequitable distributions of benefits and disorganised displacements of populations” (WCD, 2000).

The WCD guidelines advocate for “a socially and environmentally comprehensive and transparent decision-making procedure in dam developments involving displacements of people” (WCD, 2000). In this light, the WCD insists on improved or reformed policies that ensure at protecting the rights of displaced populations in dam projects. However, challenges lie in ensuring that organisations dealing with dam projects adopt such policies and reformulate their existing policies.


This critical analysis supports the idea that we can justify the displacement of a few in the case of development that will benefit many in society. However, this argument recognises the negative impacts of unplanned involuntary displacements and resettlement.

This implies that the involuntary displacement and resettlement must follow policies and guidelines that ensure protection of human rights, adequate compensation, sharing of benefits, and implementation of projects that will alleviate impoverishment of the displaced populations. Thus, any displacement for the benefits of the majority must have justifiable basis and complete regarding for ethical issues that may arise.

There are regions that are prone to displacements of large numbers of populations. This mainly depends on the type of development projects that governments or funding agencies have initiated. We have noted that projects related to constructions of hydropower stations and dams have the highest casualties in terms of displaced populations.

These are also the projects that benefit the highest number of people in society. Still, there are projects that have limited occurrences and result into limited displacements of people. Such projects also benefit only few private developers. This does not imply that such activities should not follow involuntary displacements and resettlement procedures.

Displacements for the benefits of majorities should not be a dreadful experience to the affected populations. However, problems lie with the lack policies, enforcement of existing policies, inability to reform existing policies, or issues of sharing benefits so as to meet the needs of the affected populations.

It is the fashion in which developers conduct displacements that result in issues of ethics. If policymakers formulate sound policies and guidelines for involuntary displacements and resettlement, then most human rights abuse witnessed in the past projects would come to an end. This means that displacement for developments would be friendly experience for the affected populations.

A focus on Orissa Dam Development Projects

Orissa state of India experiences frequent droughts, cyclone, and floods. These phenomena lead to hunger, poverty, frequent migration, displacement, and diseases outbreak. Orissa had over 149 dams by 1994. However, the large dams of interest include Rengali dam, Upper Indravati, Hirakud dam, and Upper Kolab. These four dams occupy substantial parts of tribal districts.

The main purposes of these dams were to mitigate severe effects of frequent floods, generate electricity, and provide irrigation water. Such benefits make the government of Orissa make developments of dams its top priority.

Constructions of these dams have affected the indigenous tribes of Orissa. They resulted into displacements of populations, affected culture and moral values and disrupted socioeconomic developments. Dams have displaced indigenous people and marginalised them. Indigenous, rural populations of Orissa traditionally have depended on resources of their areas for earning a living.

The government acquired forest land the natives have depended on as a source of their livelihoods. Usually, the affected land in these projects belongs to communities, private landowners or the government land earmarked for dam development projects.

The government of Orissa offered cash compensation for land of private individuals. It used rental and market value to determine the amount of cash compensation for the displaced populations. However, most landowners did not understand the criterion for compensation.

The upper class of Orissa used the Land Act of 1948 to access all the benefits associated with the dam projects. In some cases, such influential individuals resorted to courts to claim certain concessions. In the long run, indigenous populations and vulnerable members of society suffered massive losses.

The government of Orissa did not have an existing policy on handling displacements of people due to developments. Thus, it developed most of its plans in haste in so as to provide a rough guideline for compensation and resettlements. However, such polices were inadequate in their provisions for the affected populations. Some of the rehabilitation promises such as provisions of modern amenities, clean water, modern houses, and electricity were oral declarations that never came to be.

The idea of cash compensation did not work well for the locals. They suddenly changes their behaviours and begun engaging in reckless activities. Small businesses these people started suffered due to lack of knowledge or prior experiences in running businesses.

All these displacements resulted into disrupting the lives of the indigenous people. The displaced people took time in order to adjust to the new environments in terms of socioeconomic activities and culture adjustments. For instance, people who depended on forests as sources of their livelihoods had difficulties adjusting to new environments of resettlement.

Initially, they engaged in exchanges of forest products with other people to earn a living. However, this was impossible in the new areas. Involuntary resettlements led to a sharp decline in depending on forest products for livelihoods among the displaced persons.

Reference List

Agnihotri, A 1996, The Orissa Resettlement and Rehabilitation of Project-Affected Persons Policy, 1994: An analysis of its robustness with reference to the Impoverishment Risks Model,Prachi Prakashan, New Delhi.

Amnesty International 2000, Sudan: The Human Price of Oil, Amnesty International, London.

Bartolome, L et al 2000, ‘Displacement, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reparation and Development’, Thematic Review vol. 1, no.3, pp. 20-33.

Cernea, M 1990, ‘Impoverishment Risks, Risk Management, and Reconstruction: A Model of Population Displacement and Resettlement’, Social Aspects of Hydropower Development, vol. 27, no. 290, pp. 3-61.

Colchester, M 2000, ‘Dams, Indigenous People and Vulnerable Ethnic Minorities’, Thematic Review, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-30.

De Wet, C 2001, ‘Economic development and population displacement: Can everybody win?’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 36 no. 50, pp. 4637-4646.

Downing, T 1996, Mitigating social impoverishment when people are involuntarily displaced, Berghahn Books, Oxford.

Guggenheim, S 1993, Peasants, planners, and participation: Resettlement in Mexico, Westview, Oxford.

Lassailly-Jacob, V 1996, Reconstructing Livelihood Through Land Settlement Schemes in Africa, University of Oxford, Oxford.

Penz, P 2002, ‘Development displacement and ethics’, Forced Migration Review, vol. 12, pp. 4-5.

Picciotto, R, Van Wicklin, W, and Rice, E 2001, Involuntary Resettlement: Comparative perspectives, Transaction Publishers, London.

Scudder, T and Colson, E 1982, From welfare to development: A conceptual framework for the analysis of dislocated people, Westview Press, Boulder, USA.

WBOED 1993, Early Experience with Involuntary Resettlement: Overview: Report No. 12142, World Bank, Washington, D.C.

WCD 2000, Dams and Development: A new framework for decision-making, Earthscan, London.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 16). Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/can-displacement-of-a-few-be-justified-for-development-benefitting-many-critical-writing/

Work Cited

"Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many?" IvyPanda, 16 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/can-displacement-of-a-few-be-justified-for-development-benefitting-many-critical-writing/.

1. IvyPanda. "Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many?" May 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/can-displacement-of-a-few-be-justified-for-development-benefitting-many-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. "Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many?" May 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/can-displacement-of-a-few-be-justified-for-development-benefitting-many-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many?" May 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/can-displacement-of-a-few-be-justified-for-development-benefitting-many-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Can displacement of a few be justified for development benefitting many'. 16 May.

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