To accommodate the needs of hundreds of thousands of returnees after war and genocide in 1994, the new Rwandan Government launched a settlement programme, Imidugudu. Since early 1997, this programme has targeted the entire rural population: all scattered households in the country had to be regrouped in villages. What started as a response to an emergency turned into an ambitious but controversial development programme. The programme has been implemented with support from international organizations, including UNHCR and numerous NGOs. This paper shows that an emergency discourse was central in their considerations to give their support. Secondly, it considers local processes of implementation. Two case studies make clear that as of now, little has been achieved of the envisaged integrated approach to settlement, land use and livelihoods. Moreover, the authoritative and top-down implementation raises concerns about the political implications of the programme. It raises some pertinent questions about the possibilities and constraints for integrating development into relief.
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