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The Resettlement Thematic Group provides assistance to task teams and consultants in identifying, planning, implementing, and monitoring involuntary resettlement to minimize displacement and restore incomes.

Involuntary Displacement and Resettlement

Involuntary displacement occurs when the decision of moving is made and imposed by an external agent and when there is no possibility to stay. Involuntary displacement can be caused by environmental degradation, natural disasters, conflicts or development projects. It is associated with loss of housing, shelter, income, land, livelihoods, assets, access to resources and services, among others. Displacement affects not only those physically displaced but also the resident population (people who are not directly affected and thus do not move but feel the impact of losing their neighbors and resources) as well as the host population (those who receive displaced persons and could be positively or adversely affected by this situation).

Resettlement is a process to assist the displaced persons to replace their housing, assets, livelihoods, land, access to resources and services and to restore their socioeconomic and cultural conditions. In addition to development-induced displacement, the Bank also works on the other causes of displacement, such as natural disasters, climate change and conflict.

Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement

The development projects more likely to displace people are those that require land acquisition such as infrastructure projects. The World Bank has an Operational Policy 4.12 to address involuntary resettlement caused by Bank-financed development projects. The main objective of the policy is to avoid involuntary resettlement to the extent feasible, or to minimize and mitigate its adverse social and economic impacts. Where avoidance is not feasible, the key objective is to assist displaced persons in their efforts to improve or at least restore their incomes and standards of living after displacement. The policy also covers direct economic and social impacts caused by (a) the involuntary taking of land resulting in

  • relocation or loss of shelter;
  • loss of assets or access to assets; or
  • loss of income sources or means of livelihood, whether or not the affected persons must move to another location;

and (b) the involuntary restriction of access to legally designated parks and protected areas resulting in adverse impacts on the livelihoods of the displaced persons.

The policy promotes participation of displaced people in resettlement planning and implementation. The policy requires that borrowers prepare adequate resettlement planning instruments prior to Bank appraisal of proposed projects. Please click here for more information.

Disaster-Induced Displacement

At the global scale, clear trends show that both the frequency and scale of impact of natural disasters is on a significant rise. Whereas 541 million people were affected (injured, homeless, displaced, evacuated or requiring immediate assistance) by natural disasters during 1970-1979, an estimated 2.3 billion will be affected by the end of this decade. The number of people affected by natural disasters has by far outpaced population growth, which means that natural disasters are affecting a greater proportion of the world's population every decade. In this context, resettlement can be used as a tool in prevention and disaster preparedness, as well as in post-disaster recovery and assistance phases of a disaster. The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is managed by the World Bank on behalf of the participating donor partners and other partnering stakeholders. The GFDRR provides technical and financial assistance to high risk low- and middle-income countries to mainstream disaster reduction in national development strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, please refer to the website of the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery.

Conflict-Induced Displacement

Displacement caused by conflict affects approximately 36 million world-wide (10 million refugees, 26 million internally displaced persons). It causes not only massive humanitarian crises but also has negative consequences in the long term for human and social capital, economic growth, efforts to reduce poverty and environmental sustainability. The Bank's work on forced displacement has addressed most of the critical development challenges such as post-conflict reconstruction, restoration of livelihoods, community driven development (CDD), delivery of services, as well as reconciliation and peace, women and youth. For more information, please refer to the website of Forced Displacement.

What We Do

World Bank projects seek to avoid involuntary resettlement, but there are times when this is unavoidable. If a Bank activity will entail involuntary resettlement of people, the project must follow the Bank's resettlement policy requirements described in OP/BP 4.12, in its processing. This is necessary to achieve the objective of the Bank's resettlement policy -- chiefly to assist the affected people in improving their living standards, capacity for income generation, and production levels, or at least to restore them to their former levels. Attention must be paid to this issue at all stages of the project, from project identification through implementation and monitoring.

The Resettlement Thematic Group can provide guidelines that will help Bank staff to follow the required resettlement procedures (both substantive and administrative) at all stages of the project cycle. The actions to be taken to process the resettlement component of projects fall into the following broad categories:

I. Preparing the resettlement Component

  • surveys of the project area to obtain census and socioeconomic data

  • finalizing resettlement entitlements

  • identifying resettlement sites and programs to restore incomes

  • developing organizations with the capacity to deliver resettlement assistance, and

  • devising budgets and plans for implementing and monitoring the resettlement activity.

II. Preparing the resettlement planning documents

  • Identify organizations that can formulate the resettlement plan and coordinate with all agencies involved to develop the required planning documents

  • Determine the type of resettlement planning documents required

  • Work with the borrower and consultants to draft planning documents

III. Review and clearance of planning documents

  • Have resettlement plans reviewed and approved by relevant Bank staff

IV. Developing systems for monitoring and supervising implementation

  • Take steps to ensure that implementation arrangements are adequate

  • Arrange for internal and external resettlement monitoring during implementation

Last updated: 2010-05-28

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