|Resettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1995, 60 p.)|
|Part 3: Resettlement: factors that influence recovery|
Men and women often have different opportunities in settlement.
1 Attitudes and motivation. The attitudes and motivations of displaced people are often a mixture of their cultural background, traditional values and the way they perceive their current situation and future prospects. These considerations include their aspirations and their assessments of options and constraints (or needs and resources). Resettlement efforts which are based on helping displaced families achieve their goals will usually be substantively different and more successful than those based on plans which are then "sold" to displaced persons through advocacy efforts.
2 Gender, age and family status. Consideration of gender roles, age and family status are essential in resettlement planning. A survey in El Salvador revealed that the majority (67%) of displaced households were headed by women, as is the case in many displaced populations. In many situations women who have been displaced are severely disadvantaged relative to men (and relative to their past status) due to their more limited mobility arising from domestic responsibilities and cultural mores. When displacement-related location and economic activities change, there is often a shift in gender-based division of labor and social roles. Men are more likely to take advantage of new jobs in urban areas or distant locations leaving the women and children behind. Such separation sometimes leads to men taking new wives and the women left behind becoming de facto heads of households with few resources or opportunities
Men and women often adapt to displacement and resettlement in different ways. In some situations women have been observed to assimilate into a new environment with fewer problems than men. Also, men and women often have different opportunities in settlement. Settlement schemes which are insensitive to gender are often planned by men for men. Land title, jobs, skills training opportunities are often directed to men. Surveys of needs and capacities often only include men and overlook the dual and complementary roles of males and females in household survival strategies. (Anderson, 1993).
In addition to gender differences, attention must be given to special needs of different age groups. Children and the elderly tend to be more vulnerable than other age groups particularly if orphaned or left alone to care for themselves. Children or the elderly may require special services to meet their needs for education or social support.
3 Individuals with special vulnerabilities. Persons with the most resources and the strongest social networks are usually best able to cope with displacement and take advantage of settlement opportunities. Those with the least resources and weakest social networks are the most vulnerable and deserve particular consideration. Vulnerable persons and groups such as unaccompanied children, female headed households, elderly, pensioners, handicapped and unemployed generally require special assistance, however, sometimes the needs of these groups receive low priority. A study regarding the resettlement of refugees who repatriated from Thailand to Cambodia concluded that emphasis should be placed on early planning for needs of vulnerable groups.
4 Circumstances during displacement. Life experiences and circumstances during the displacement period also influence recovery. Displaced persons who find safe refuge, remain healthy and are treated with dignity will find resettling easier than those who suffered great deprivation. The opportunity to learn new skills and build up resources is also crucial. Children who miss schooling, parents who are forced to live and raise children in dehumanizing shelters, and individuals who are traumatized or embittered may find resettlement more difficult. Further, the longer the time period which displaced people are dependent upon others for necessities the more difficult it may be for them to establish self-sufficiency.
5 Level of Stress. Displacement from one's home may always be considered stressful, however, the degree of stress depends upon the nature of the associated events and the presence of mitigating forces. The extent of family losses or separations and the conditions under which the move occurred influence stress levels. Those who have moved most suddenly or are most directly affected by the crisis event are often in greatest need.
The effect of displacement also depends on whether or not the move was self-directed and if the new location is seen as an improvement or decline in quality of life. Often the initial euphoria associated with being in a safer situation is replaced with depression, sadness and nostalgia for what was left behind. Initial stress experienced by displaced families may dissipate as people integrate into their new places of residence.
Recovery can be aided by considering the causes and effects of stress in program planning. Providing information so that people can make informed choices about resettlement reduces uncertainty and stress. Preserving family unity is critical to recovery. Experience repeatedly affirms the value of helping villages and social groups who have been displaced to remain together as functioning social units.