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Resettlement as climate change adaptation: what can be learned from state-led relocation in rural Africa and Asia?

Arnall, A. ORCID: (2019) Resettlement as climate change adaptation: what can be learned from state-led relocation in rural Africa and Asia? Climate and Development, 11 (3). pp. 253-263. ISSN 1756-5537

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2018.1442799


There is growing interest in helping people in developing countries cope with climate change by reframing population relocation as an adaptation strategy. However, there is also ongoing uncertainly surrounding what the advantages and disadvantages of resettling poor and vulnerable communities might be. This article helps address this knowledge gap by considering what might be learned from recent and ongoing state-led relocation programmes in rural Africa and Asia. It draws on a review of planned displacement and resettlement in eight countries, and six months’ experience researching a relocation programme in central Mozambique, to make three arguments: first, there is need to uncover long-standing governmental perceptions of rural populations and the ways in which these affect state-led responses to climate shocks and stresses; second, it is necessary to develop more sophisticated understanding of human choice, volition and self-determination during resettlement as adaptation; and third, greater attention should be paid to how development narratives are generated, transmitted and internalised during climate-induced relocations. Taking into account socioeconomic, political and historical realities in these ways will help to avoid situations in which present-day interventions to assist populations experiencing or threatened by climate displacement simply repeat or reinforce past injustices.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Walker Institute
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:74820
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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