Downing, T. (2002) “Avoiding New Poverty: Mining-Induced Displacement and Resettlement”

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Recognizing that resource projects can have both negative and positive local economic, environmental and social effects, Precept 5 outlines the internationally accepted frameworks governing resource extraction.

The paper by Downing addresses one such negative effect – displacement and resettlement. The challenges of mining-induced displacement and resettlement (MIDR) are subject to the resettlement effect: the loss of physical and non-physical assets such as productive land, income earning assets and their sources, social structures and resources. Such risks, unaddressed, can generate ‘new poverty’, opposed to the poverty under which people suffered before displacement. One major problem has been that compensation, instead of rehabilitation or sustainable development, has become the goal. Rather, compensation ought to be perceived as a means for ensuring sustainable outcomes.

 A number of recommendations are made regarding how to counter the resettlement effect:

  1. A resettlement plan ought to be created, providing a time bound strategy, objectives, responsibility, and monitoring and evaluation.
  2. As part of such a plan the affected people ought to be included in prior consultation, building their capacity to deal with resettlement.
  3. An impoverishment risk assessment ought to be carried out, examining risks in the known risk categories with special consideration for vulnerable groups.
  4. The risk assessment allows for entitlements to be defined.

In addressing some of these problems the author recommends an interim ‘on the ground’ solution through establishing a MIDR Contingency Clause in which an agreement is made that MIDR “risks are assessed, goals set, costs estimated, organizational arrangements proposed, and financing secured before a mining project goes forward” (p. 20).

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