Unlike in the simulation game SimSafari, people cannot just be clicked in and out of a national park with a computer mouse. This thesis seeks to understand resettlement as an unfolding process. Displacement and resettlement caused by development projects such as dams or conservation areas, tend to be detrimental to the well-being of resettled people, despite policies adopted to avoid adverse consequences. Based on in-depth fieldwork from 2006 to 2010, this study followed the residents of the village of Nanguene, the first village resettled from the Limpopo National Park, in southern Mozambique from pre-resettlement negotiations to post-resettlement transition in their new location. Two overarching questions in resettlement scholarship and practice are addressed: i) How is resettlement policy enacted in practice? and ii) What can an integrated understanding of the lives and livelihoods of resettling people contribute to the design of compensation?
The wider political economy and residents’ participation in planning influenced the enactment of resettlement policy. The guiding policy was the World Bank Operational Policy on Involuntary Resettlement (WB OP 4.12); even though the option to resettle was presented as voluntary, in practice it was ‘induced’ volition. The changing meanings that actors gave to the notion of participation reflected changing power relationships, opening and closing the procedural space for the residents to influence decision-making about their own futures. Although participation in the planning process led to some level of empowerment and increased their opportunities to voice their needs and desires, the participatory procedures masked underlying coercion and manipulation. I conclude that the enactment process itself is as important, or more important, than the content of the policy in shaping the decisions made.
The southern end of Limpopo National Park, in the district of Massingir, is characterized by highly variable and marginal rainfall. Livelihoods are comprised of diverse activities, of which maize production is central. People strive to produce as much maize as possible from the rain that does fall; a good harvest can last for up to three years, serving as a buffer against food scarcity in subsequent years of crop failure. Therefore, having access to sufficient land on which to plant large areas when rainfall patterns are favourable for harvest is crucial for food security. Through a detailed study of the agricultural system in eight villages in the region, taking into consideration local practices, 15 years of daily rainfall and variable household assets we estimated that 1.37 ha per person is needed to be food self-sufficient. In compensation for resettlement, each nuclear family was provided with only 1 ha. Natural resource inventories and a spatial analysis of available natural resources indicated there were sufficient resources of adequate quality to support the needs of the existing residents and the resettled residents in the post-resettlement location, with respect to cropping and grazing. However, despite apparently inclusive rules and norms of access, residents faced major challenges accessing the resources they needed. This highlights the need to understand the relationships among quantity and quality of and access to natural resources. Strengthening people’s existing adaptive capacity may be key to reducing vulnerability to negative consequences of resettlement.
The influence that action-oriented research can have in complex settings, where different actors assert completing claims on the same resources, is also examined in this thesis. Our findings suggest that in a sensitive and complex research setting such as this one, the researcher may be able to contribute to more equitable and transparent negotiations by being present, asking questions and by timely and open sharing of preliminary results.
The resettlement initiative documented in this thesis appeared to have all the elements needed to make it a success. Despite this, differing expectations about the autonomy and resource control of the resettled village in its new location led half of the resettled households to return to the park only four months after resettlement. I suggest that policy cannot safeguard people from undue harm unless the process of enactment becomes a central focus of attention; compensation cannot bring development unless the resettling residents can define development themselves; and people cannot be resettled—they resettle themselves.