The international standards on involuntary resettlement call for improvement or restoration of the livelihoods and standards of living of displaced persons, and improvement in living conditions among physically displaced persons (International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 5). Likewise, The World Bank’s Operational Policy 4.12 requires that displaced persons should be assisted in their efforts to improve their livelihoods and standards of living or at least to restore them, in real terms, to pre-displacement levels or to levels prevailing prior to the beginning of project implementation, whichever is higher (emphasis ours).

Resettlement_Report_March_2008 photoThis standard is often misunderstood.  ‘Livelihood’ refers to the capacity to gain a sustainable living – a flow of income and wealth accumulation – from a wide range of natural and social resources. Livelihood improvement, therefore, is NOT accomplished by compensation for lost assets. The policies clearly state that the displaced should become net beneficiaries of the project that is displacing them, over and above any general benefits accruing to the nation or overall community from the project.

Reaching this objective is not technically easy or inexpensive.  A census and study – not a survey – must be made before displacement to determine all the livelihood sources (not just cash income streams) and the resettlement action plan (RAP) must include provisions for livelihood and living standards improvement.  Projects often misunderstand this to mean giving a course or incorrectly assuming that the compensation for lost assets should be sufficient to jump start lost sources of livelihood. Additional challenges concerning the suitability, sustainability and equity of interventions designed to improve people’s livelihoods are often encountered during the implementation phase and must also be overcome.

In this section, the editors offer examples of methodologies and projects being used to reach this standard. We invite examples or comments on how to reach this important objective.

Section Editors

Alex Arnall
Dr. Alex Arnall (U. of Reading)
Dr. Ted Downing (U. of Arizona)






Last Updated (Friday, 7 March 2014)