With increasing frequency and intensity of disasters due to natural hazards, coupled with the threat of extreme events due to climate change, resettlement is increasingly considered as a viable option. Existing studies indicate that the resettlement process largely influences the impacts on the resettled population and determines the extent to which resettlement objectives are achieved.
Following unprecedented rains, Dar es Salaam battled disastrous floods in December 2011 that claimed at least 49 lives, and displaced over 50,000 people. As part of disaster recovery, the government housed the survivors in temporary camps, and subsequently provided plots of land and resettled the displaced landowners in an upland area about 40 kilometres away from their former homes. This research analyses the disaster resettlement programme conducted in Dar es Salaam, examining the process and exploring its impacts on the resettled survivors. A mixed methodology, comprised of both qualitative and quantitative research methods, was used to answer the framed research questions. The methods used included focus group discussions, household questionnaire surveys, in-depth household interviews, key informant interviews, participant observation, and photographic documentation.
Research findings showed that, owing to the absence of a resettlement policy or plan, the resettlement programme was conducted in an ad hoc manner, with several actors involved in the process. Besides safety from future floods, administrators involved in the planning considered several aspects they deemed necessary for the resettled households, and made provisions anticipating positive impacts. The aspects included: legal; economic; environmental; shelter; physical infrastructure; children’s education; health; safety and security; social infrastructure; and institutional. Despite the various provisions, it was found that, though there were some positive outcomes, the resettled households experienced several negative impacts, which in many cases rendered the provisions insignificant or useless. In many cases, the needs of the majority were not met and those already vulnerable were most negatively affected. It was also found that most officials involved in the planning were unaware of the various negative impacts faced by the population, and believed that the population had been reaping the positive effects of resettlement.
While each resettlement experience will be unique based on its context, this research makes several contributions that may be useful in the formulation of resettlement policies in the future. An important one was the demonstration that resettlement involves the different components of an urban system, and its planning is inherently complex. Therefore, for effective resettlement policy and planning, a participatory, comprehensive, and flexible approach with ‘well-being’ and ‘sustainability’ as goals, undergirded by an altruistic attitude held by the actors involved in the process was recommended.