Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Development induced displacement

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Development-induced displacement and resettlement (DIDR) is the forcing of communities and individuals out of their homes, often also their homelands, for the purposes of economic development. It is a subset of forced migration. It has been historically associated with the construction of dams for hydroelectric power and irrigation purposes but also appears due to many other activities, such as mining and the creation of military installations, airports, industrial plants, weapon testing grounds, railways, road developments, urbanization, conservation projects, forestry, etc. Development-induced displacement is a social problem affecting multiple levels of human organization, from tribal and village communities to well-developed urban areas.


According to Bogumil Terminski (2012), approximately fifteen million people each year are forced to leave their homes following big development projects (dams, irrigation projects, highways, urbanization, mining, conservation of nature, etc.). Anthony Oliver-Smith (2009) and Michael M. Cernea (2006) are also estimating that current scale of DIDR amounts to 15 million people per year.

Development-induced displacement or the forced migration in the name of development is affecting more and more people as countries move from developing to developed nations. The people that face such migration are often helpless, suppressed by the power and laws of nations.

The lack of rehabilitation policies for migrants means that they are often only compensated monetarily, without proper mechanisms for addressing their grievances or political support to improve their livelihoods.

Displaced people often internalize a sense of helplessness and powerlessness because of their encounter with the powerful external world, although there are also several examples of active resistance movements against development-induced displacement. In every category, particularly among marginalized groups, women are the worst hit and pay the highest price of development. A study carried out by the national commission for women in India (NCW) on the impact of displacement on women reveals that violence against women is increased. An increase in alcoholism due to displacement has led to a marked rise in domestic violence in India. In the Lincoln Park Community of Chicago, Illinois, where Jose (Cha-Cha) Jimenez founded the human rights Latino organization: Young Lords, Mayor Richard J. Daley displaced tens of thousands Puerto Ricans and the poor. This displacement helped to proliferate growing street gangs. Today these gangs enterprises with murder for hire, arson for profit and drug sales as its prime motivation. Displacement has made men feel helpless or insecure and turned women and children into scapegoats. Displacement also leads to deterioration in health and high mortality rates as services in those selected areas are the first to be cut. The nutrition and health of women, which is worse than that of men even under normal circumstances, is bound to go down in the event of an overall worsening in health caused by displacement.

Humanitarian aid agencies and government programs should target their efforts when intervening to assist victims of forced economic displacement,to ensure their work does not run counter to processes aimed at addressing the fundamental roots of the conflict. The Overseas Development Institute advocates the search for durable solutions to the recovery of displaced persons which go beyond short-term return, relocation and local integration processes.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, has an online review: Development-Induced Displacement.


According to Michael M. Cernea the main causes of development-induced displacement include: water supply (construction of dams, artificial reservoirs, irrigation projects), urban infrastructure, transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines), expansion of agriculture, parks and forest reserves and population redistribution schemes

According to Bogumil Terminski the principal causes of DIDR include: 1. the construction of dams, hydroplants, and large irrigation projects, 2. the building of highways, roads and railroad networks, 3. urbanization and social services (expansion of cities, urban transport, water supply), 4. expansion of agriculture (especially monoculture plantations), 5. mining (oil exploitation, gold, copper, coal mining), 6. conservation of nature, 7. population redistribution schemes, 8. other causes.


  • Three Gorges Dam in China - about 1.13 million displaced (recently increased to 4 million, but many could return).
  • Tokuyama Dam in Japan - some 600 displaced.
  • Donji Milanovac for ─Éerdap hydroelectric power plant
  • Sardar Sarovar Dam in India - between 1 and 2 million displaced
  • References

    Development-induced displacement Wikipedia

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