Resettlement in the Narmada Valley : participation, gender and sustainable livelihoods
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the effect of Gujarat's Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) policy of 1987 on the livelihoods of resettlers, with special reference to the impacts on women. The sample is comprised of tribals who were displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project and had relocated mainly in the early 1990s to resettlement sites in Vadodara District, Gujarat. The main objective of the research is to determine the extent to which the R&R policy was actually implemented, the effect of the nature and degree of participation on policy implementation and the effect of policy implementation on resettlers' livelihoods. Data were collected from 370 heads of households and 89 women from six resettiement sites during 2000- 2001. About half of these selected women had participated in the R&R process and/or had received compensation under the policy. Research revealed that, through an active participation process which included enhanced awareness and information gathering, self-mobilisation and grassroots action, project-affected people acquired the right to implement choice. With support from non-govemmental organisations, they were able to incorporate three unique provisions not typical of resettiement projects elsewhere. These included: the right to five acres of replacement land, irrespective of previous land title status; choice in the selection of resettlement site and relocation unit and access to infrastructure and amenities at new resettlement sites. Contrary to most resettlement experiences elsewhere, households enjoyed substantial improvements in their living conditions post-resetdement, including a modification in gender relations as a result of smaller household sizes and modified structures. A spill over effect was also observed whereby those who had not participated directly also benefited from the policy. With support from external organisations and institutions, resettlers maintained greater control over their lives and decision-making abilities. Feelings of vulnerability and insecurity normally associated with forced resettlement were noticeably reduced.