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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1995, 60 p.)
close this folderPart 3: Resettlement: factors that influence recovery
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View the documentPersonal factors
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View the documentAssistance factors
View the documentCASE STUDY: Some issues for repatriation: De-mining in Afghanistan

Assistance factors


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11 Participation of displaced families. Although they may be in dire circumstances, displaced people are the principal actors. Their decisions, capacities, skills and resources will determine to large extent the course of events. It is they who judge the risks, and then decide what course of actions they will take toward re-establishment.

Experience repeatedly confirms that the more people are involved in deciding and implementing efforts concerning their own resettlement and recovery the more positive and highly motivated they are likely to be and the more likely they are to evolve solutions suitable to them. Conversely, the more dependent people are on decisions and efforts of others concerning their well-being and recovery, the slower and less effective the recovery process. The greater the extent to which people see themselves as powerless victims the less likely they are to take assertive actions. Assistance agencies should avoid (perhaps inadvertently) creating dependency relationships or assuming responsibilities for recovery that should be placed with the community or the family.


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12 Mobilization of public administrative systems. The well-being of families and communities is integrally linked to the wider social and political systems within which they exist. Mobilizing national social, political, economic, judicial and security structures benefits the families struggling to survive and recover. This point is critical because many places to which displaced people move or return are the poorest and most underdeveloped and have the fewest government services.

Resettlement is not a specialized activity to be undertaken by a single sector or agency. All governmental, non-governmental and informal sectors have important roles to play and their effectiveness can either enhance or impede recovery. In the Philippines, after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, the full range of government services (departments of highways, agriculture, health, education, forestry, social services, etc.) were mobilized to aid the resettlement of people who permanently lost their lands. Supporting the implementation of constructive government policies and programs to aid resettlement and recovery is a critical aspect of international assistance, with significant implications for the long-term well-being of people who have been displaced.


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13 Assistance needs. Recovery may be impeded by assistance which does not meet basic needs, prolongs uprootedness, or creates dependency on relief assistance. Insufficient or inadequate water, sanitation, food, or vaccines negatively impact recovery. Resettlement can also be stymied by assistance that is only oriented to relief needs. It is also important to address the root causes of displacement and contribute to long-term strengthening of infrastructure on which people depend.

The methods used to provide emergency shelter can also enhance or delay recovery. Where the opportunity for self-directed activity exists, displaced persons will initiate a wide variety of solutions to meet shelter needs. They may move to the homes of family and friends, rent or build structures, integrate into existing communities, establish ad hoc settlements, occupy unused buildings or move to sanctuaries offered by churches and temples. Public shelters, such as evacuation centers and relief camps, are often the last resort. Customarily, displaced persons first attempt to make arrangements within family, tribe or clan, as the most reliable "safety net".

Temporary seldom means short-term.

Provision of emergency shelter is complicated by the fact that temporary seldom means short-term. Established camps or temporary housing units tend to become permanent particularly for the most vulnerable. Rather than aid recovery, therefore, some temporary services can perpetuate unsettledness.


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14 Continuity. Changes brought about by displacement and recovery create opportunities for some and setbacks for others. While change is inherent in such situations, planners often err in assuming that new forms of living, working, relating, sharing resources can be imposed or "engineered" in resettlement or recovery programs. As indicated in long-term observations of reactions to disasters and recovery, people typically wish to re-establish the familiar rather than to radically alter forms of living. In disaster studies this preference is referred to as the "principle of continuity" (Quarantelli, 1986). This may explain why efforts to engineer new forms of living and organization in resettlement programs often fail.


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15 Livelihood. The single most important factor for successful resettlement and recovery is usually the re-establishment of a secure source of livelihood. Indeed, all other inputs will be wasted if displaced people are unable to produce sufficient income or food. (Anderson, 1993). Fertile land, and employment or enterprise opportunities are required. Traditional lines of work cannot always be pursued after resettlement so alternatives must be found. Livelihood opportunities can be limited by mine fields or conflict. Attaining satisfactory livelihood opportunities may be particularly difficult for certain groups, such as physically and mentally handicapped, female heads of households, elderly persons, or unaccompanied youth, and require more creative initiatives.

Indeed, all other inputs will be wasted if displaced people are unable to produce sufficient income or food.

The following are five observations regarding creation of employment and income-generating opportunities for displaced people (Anderson, 1993):

a. Imposing nontraditional forms of work on disaster victims is virtually impossible with any success. People must be involved in choosing among alternatives, even if none of the options is really what they wish to do.

b. When settlements are created, their construction should be seen as an opportunity for employment, skills training and apprenticeships.

c. The establishment of small businesses provides many opportunities for food preparation enterprises, hairdressers and barbers, tailors and seamstresses, electricians, bricklayers, carpenters, leather workers, shopkeepers, etc. However, such businesses offer a limited scope unless other economic enterprises exist as well to increase the income in circulation to support small businesses.

d. Creation of employment opportunities in resettlement programs is integrally linked to national and regional development plans and macro-economic policies. If lack of markets or the climate make cropping unreliable, then a resettlement based on cash cropping cannot succeed. Creating an industrial-based resettlement is virtually impossible when the economy is sluggish. In times of recession it is unrealistic to expect industries to open new enterprises in resettlement communities.

e. The creation of an industrial base for employment in resettlement programs represents one of the most expensive options and is often assumed in resettlement planning without sufficient appraisal of probable return on investments.


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16 Information. The more informed displaced families are, the more able they are to make decisions that will enhance their recovery. Whether people are returning to a previous residential area after a long absence or moving to a location where they have never lived, providing information that enables them to facilitate their settlement will expedite their recovery.

In summary, re-establishment and recovery is very much dependent upon the opportunities available to displaced people to live in peace according to their own wishes and desires; to be together as a family; earn a living; find or arrange housing; have access to basic services; find new skills; arrange education for their children; and participate in meaningful social, cultural, political and religious activities. Aiding recovery is directly concerned with fostering an environment in which people have opportunity to organize a pattern of living they desire.

Q. 1) Name some of the personal characteristics of displaced persons which must be considered in resettlement assistance.

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Q. 2) How might gender roles change after displacement from those of the traditional society?

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Q. 3) What are the risks in providing assistance only to displaced persons when the local community is also in need?

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Q. 4) What is the single most important factor for successful resettlement and recovery?

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Q. 5) Why is it so crucial that international assistance support the implementation of government services and policies to aid resettlement?

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Q. 6) Why is the participation of displaced persons so vital in decisions concerning their resettlement?

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ANSWERS

1) Their attitudes and motivations, gender, age and family status, special vulnerabilities and levels of stress.

2) Many possibilities exist. Women may become heads of households if men leave to take jobs. Men may have more opportunities in resettlement and women become severely disadvantaged.

3) Discrimination or hostility by the local community, failure of integration and recovery for the resettlers

4) Establishing a secure source of livelihood.

5) The recovery of families is linked to the economic, social and political systems and displaced people often resettle in the poorest, least developed countries.

6) It is they who judge the risks and decide what actions to take. Participation results in increased motivation, reduced dependency, and finding more suitable solutions.