Alternatives to Long Distance Resettlement for Urban Informal Settlements Affected By Disaster and Climate Change

Abstract

Planned or managed resettlement is increasingly being seen as a logical and legitimate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategy for urban informal settlements in many developing country cities. Our understanding of the 50+ year history of “Development-induced Displacement” (i.e. resettlement for resource extraction or development project purposes) strongly suggests that resettlement, particularly long distance resettlement, often triggers significant, negative impacts for resettled communities. We now understand that long distance resettlement should be seen as an option of last resort. Under most climate change scenarios, informal settlements in coastal, or riverside locations are expected to be impacted negatively by climatic change, and thus the question of whether or not to resettle (despite the negatives associated with this) still arises. This paper will present several emerging and innovative alternatives to long distance resettlement, including the so-called “vertical resettlement”, amphibious and floating housing, “near-site” resettlement, and in-situ climate change adaptation/upgrading. These alternatives collectively allow for a local “re-imagining of informal settlements” rather than simply “resettlement”. The research methods used in this paper include a review of secondary data (n=20), and limited primary field research involving resettlement site observation and several key informant interviews (n=2).