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Collaborative instruments for planning urban residential displacements and resettlements

Student:Alice Nikuze
Timeline:June 2016 - 31 May 2020

This research is focussed on the development of a methodology to study the impact of involuntary displacement and resettlement (IDR) associated with programmes for infrastructure investment or disaster risk reduction in sub-Saharan African cities. As many cities in this region are experiencing rapid growth and have relatively high levels of informality and poverty, poorly developed and executed IDR can have substantial impacts and contribute to the increased marginalization of large numbers of people, especially informal settlement dwellers.

In fast urbanizing cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, urban redevelopment and disaster mitigation relocation policies include resettlement projects that are a substantial threat to informal settlement dwellers livelihoods and their well-being. Many cities in this region, have recently adopted visions and development plans for “new and modern cities” aiming at stimulating the local economies, improving the living conditions of the fast-growing urban population and more generally to build a modern living environment. These ambitions require massive investments in urban infrastructure, including road construction, housing property development and networks to provide other basic services. With respect to these various urban land-based investments taking place, urban land is acquired using the mechanism of “public purpose”, mainly for property development, under urban renewal and redevelopment policies. Low-income residential areas located in central and well-located locations that are attractive to investors are acquired for redevelopment into high standard residential areas while other settlement, mostly located in disaster high risks zone, are demolished and replaced by green spaces. Disaster-induced displacement and resettlement policy of people living in high risks zone is increasingly implemented as a risk mitigation options. Inevitably, this land use transformations lead to the displacement of a large number of urban population, especially the poor.

Resettlement entails both the physical displacement of population and the disruption of their social, economic and cultural organizations. If poorly designed or executed, IDR can lead to various forms of impoverishment, such as landlessness, joblessness, etc. Deepening the impoverishment of an already poor population increases social inequity and this illustrates unsuccessful resettlement programs. Such unsuccessful resettlement processes are also characterized by other social risks such as low social acceptance, low satisfaction and high resistance.

Lack of active stakeholders participation and engagement of affected people are among the factors that lead to the above mentioned social impacts. Therefore, collaborative planning by engaging all stakeholders in the planning and decision-making processes appears to be crucial towards reducing the impoverishment risks, social tensions and increase social acceptance and satisfaction of IDR affected households. In this regard, planning and decision support systems may be potential instruments that can be used to reach better-informed decisions, enhance communication and support consensus building among stakeholders engaged in planning processes. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how and to what extent collaborative planning tools can support resettlement processes.

This PhD research is conducted to develop and test a collaborative methodology with collaborative planning support tools to support decision making in IDR processes. Kigali city, the capital of Rwanda, was selected as a case study given it recent experience with both development and disaster-induced displacements and resettlements projects that are affecting a large number of informal settlement dwellers. These displacement processes are mainly triggered by the implementation of the Master Plan (KMP) with a “slum-free” vision adopted in 2013. On the one hand, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) is currently financially able to resettle a small number of only the very poor vulnerable informal households from what have been identified as disaster high-risk zones. On the other hand, GoR relies on partnership with private property investors to redevelop some informal settlements while providing in-kind compensation to the affected households through both onsite and off-site resettlement projects.

The objectives of this research are: (i) to understand the full range of impacts and impoverishment risks resulting from these displacement and resettlement projects; (ii) to assess the governance in the planning and implementation process and outcomes, focussing on decision making and participation of affected people; (iii) to conceptualize and develop a collaborative planning support system including tools and methods that will help to address the identified crucial decisions problems such resettlement sites selection, house design, etc. The research draws on mixed methods combining primary and secondary data. With this design, the study will use an intensive literature review, interviews, focus group discussions, workshops, observation, and other secondary data including spatial data.

Preliminary findings show that irrespective of potential opportunities of resettlement projects to deliver housing to poor informal households, most displaced informal households in Kigali endure several adverse impacts on their physical, financial, social, human livelihood assets in the pre-relocation and post-relocation stages. We found that early effective communication of the details of the project and the involvement of affected households in decisions making is needed to minimize some of the identified negative impacts and protect the livelihood of affected households. For informal households, residential location and the houses matter. They are critical elements in determining the impact of resettlement on their livelihoods. Thus planning and decision-making tools to support stakeholders interactions and engagement of affected households in resettlement site and houses design decision making processes will be conceptualized and tested in workshops to investigate how they facilitate communication, knowledge co-production, shared understanding and census buildings.

Figure 1 shows an example of a map of the suitability of potential resettlement sites, that was produced using an accessibility based multi-criteria model. Such a model can be implemented in an interactive system like a maptable (figure 2) to support stakeholders interactions. 

Figure 1: Spatial multicriteria based model for resettlement sites suitability map


Figure 2: a maptable for stakeholder interaction

Meet the team

A. Nikuze (Alice)
Graduate Student
prof.dr.ir. M.F.A.M. van Maarseveen (Martin)
Promotor
dr. J. Flacke (Johannes)
Co-promotor
prof.dr. R.V. Sliuzas (Richard)
Co-promotor
Research theme
People, Land and Urban Systems

In PLUS research, people are our focus. Everyone is included, from societal thought-leaders, to government policy makers, to high-level civil society advocates – through to entrepreneurs and citizens, including the disenfranchised. These people are our collaborators, our participants, our beneficiaries, our users. PLUS focuses on understanding the spatial information needs of society and responding to those needs in responsible ways – as tools, as systems, as infrastructure, or as ways of thinking. Our work sits at the nexus of urbanization, land tenure, governance, climate change, and transportation – and the grand challenges of sustainability and social equity in the age of the anthropocene.

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