Worldwide, between 40-80 million people have been displaced by large dams since the beginning of the 20th century. This has had devastating consequences for an untold number of communities: The planning and implementation of dam-induced resettlement has frequently either worsened the living standards of affected communities or impoverished them. Large-scale resettlement can erase a community’s history, while offering little hope for the future of those affected.
At International Rivers, we work to help dam-affected communities fully realize and understand their rights, appreciate the impacts of resettlement, and navigate the complex but necessary negotiations. In the early stages of a project, developers typically promise to provide better living standards; we have often been asked to assist disappointed communities when these promises don’t materialize. In most cases, it is too late to reverse the process, and may involve prolonged court cases that leave everyone bruised.
The social impacts of dams are huge, and only those who have been displaced live to tell of the negative consequences that transcend generations. We recommend that dam projects that would displace a large number of people should never be built, as it is very difficult to restore lost livelihoods completely. Quality of life can easily be improved without relocating people.
In May 2016, we published a resettlement guide tailored for the Inga communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The guide provides a summary of best practice standards for resettlement, intended for all communities who are at risk of displacement. In March 2017, we produced an animated video that summarizes the guide. Both resources are intended to educate communities to understand their rights if they face displacement. Neither is meant in any way to encourage the displacement of communities. However, in those exceptional cases where resettlement is unavoidable, communities should receive fair and justcompensation, and know that they’re entitled to a better life than before.
This project was made possible by the University of Washington School of Law students, Lien de Brouckere, Kirk Herbertson and Jennifer Lenga-Long, who all contributed to the research and content of the resettlement guide. To effectively reach out to communities, we collaborated with Scientific Animations without Borders (SAWBO) to create an animation of the resettlement guide. We are thankful to the SAWBO team and all the people above who have worked with us on this project.
Please let us know if you find this animation useful and would like to share it with communities in your region.
Please click on the following links to watch the French and Lingala versions of the Animated Resettlement Guide Video.
French version: https://youtu.be/GLwVjYGOcmU
Lingala version: https://youtu.be/tzOOMa4z8Go