Development-induced displacement and resettlement : a narrative inquiry into the experiences of community members physically displaced from a farm to a town in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Smithen, Caitlin
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Although expected to be beneficial to society, development projects, such as dam construction and mining, often result in the physical displacement of marginalized groups. This is known as Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement (DIDR) and often has far-reaching negative consequences for the affected peoples (APS). These include further marginalization, increased poverty, identity deprivation and socio-psychological stress. While decades of knowledge inform theory and practice on the mitigation of these consequences, the psycho-socio-cultural (PSC) impoverishment that may result from DIDR is often left unaddressed. Furthermore, qualitative knowledge of the experiences of people affected by DIDR is lacking. This research study aimed to produce an in-depth understanding of how DIDR affects the PSC well-being and identity construction of APS. The research took the form of a qualitative case study, whereby a social constructionist, narrative method of inquiry was used to analyse and gather data. This involved undertaking in-depth, individual interviews with a small sample of APS who had been resettled from a farm to a town in Mpumalanga by a mining house. Briefly, it was found that, contrary to the prevalent finding that DIDR causes further impoverishment, the resettlement actually resulted in development for the APS and as such enhanced their PSC well-being and contributed positively to their identity construction. However, the complexity inherent in resettlement was highlighted, as the participants revealed that the resettlement had not come without some socio-economic costs. It is believed that the findings from this study will complement existing knowledge on DIDR, and inform the design and implementation of Relocation Action Plans (RAPs) that better mitigate the negative PSC effects of DIDR.
Affected people (APS), Development-induced displacement and resettlement (DIDR), Identity, Mental health, Psycho-socio-cultural (PSC well-being