Tháng 8 năm 2016, tôi đến Quảng Ngãi, một tỉnh miền Trung Việt Nam, nhằm thu thập số liệu điều tra về sự tham gia của phụ nữ trong quá trình tái định cư. Tôi nghĩ cuộc họp đầu tiên với người dân địa phương sẽ diễn ra suôn sẻ và nhanh chóng, nhưng thực tếkhông hẳn như vậy.
“Phụ nữ á? Chúng tôi tham gia á? Tham gia cũng thế thôi. Chúng tôi chỉ quanh quẩn ở nhà, nên không quan tâm đến việc cán bộ đến và hỏi chúng tôi tham gia hay không,” một phụ nữ nói. “Cái chúng tôi muốn biết là những kiến nghị hôm nay sẽ được thực hiện đến đâu. Chúng tôi cần một khu tái định cư, nhà văn hoá chung cho cộng đồng, cần có cây cối và nhà trẻ như đã hứa khi chuẩn bị dự án.”
Những ý kiến đó hé lộ một vấn đề quan trọng. Đó là sự lệch pha giữa cái mà ta tưởng là phụ nữ muốn và nhu cầu thực sự của họ.
Phụ nữ chịu tác động nghiêm trọng hơn nam giới trong quá trình tái định cư bởi họ phải đối đầu với nhiều khó khăn trong vấn đề ổn định gia đình. Điều này càng dễ thấy nếu không có cơ chế thu hút sự tham gia và lấy ý kiến phụ nữ một cách thực chất trong quá trình thực hiện dự án nói chung và trong quá trình tái định cư nói riêng.
Last August, I visited Quang Ngai, a central coastal province in Vietnam, to collect data for a survey on women’s participation in resettlement activities. I expected our first meeting with the local community to be short and uncontroversial. It wasn’t.
“We, women? Our participation? It doesn’t matter. We all stay at home. We don’t care about you coming here and asking about our participation,” said one female participant. “What we do care is to know the extent to which the recommendations we make today will be addressed. We need a resettlement site with community house, trees and kindergarten as promised during the project preparation.”
That comment brought to light an important perspective, highlighting the tension between what we might expect women to want, and their actual needs.
The impacts of development-induced resettlement disproportionately affect women, as they are faced with more difficulties than men to cope with disruption to their families. And this is particularly the case if there is no mechanism to enable meaningful participation and consultation with women throughout the project cycle in general and in the resettlement process in particular.
In the last blog we saw that most resettlers are broadly satisfied with the resettlement process and are positive and optimistic about their lives as a whole. But…how do they feel about their lives in comparison to the very different world they lived in before relocation? What are the changes they value or regret?
The respondents were asked directly how they felt about life now compared with life before resettlement. The overwhelming majority think that life has got much better, and that the vulnerable households are even more likely to feel this way than the non-vulnerable—no vulnerable households felt that life had got worse.
In last week’s blog I showed that, when we examine consumption—a commonly used measure of household welfare—the resettled households appear to be doing relatively well, and much better than before resettlement. But economic circumstances are just one small part of what really matters to households. In order to get closer to a broader picture of “well-being”, I’m going to present some evidence of how these households themselves view their lives overall and how they feel about the changes going on around them. I hope that this will provide new insights to the question of “how are the resettled people doing overall?”
|On the Nakai plateau, a large proportion of income is non-monetary. If we fail to account for this income, we grossly underestimate the living standards of most households. (WB photo)|
There’s an extensive literature on dam resettlement, and according to much of this, the track record on rebuilding sustainable livelihoods is not great. For those interested, an excellent starting point is “The Future of Large Dams” by Ted Scudder. Ted has spent 50 years or so studying dams and resettlement, and has been on Nam Theun 2’s (NT2) external Panel of Experts since the early days of project preparation.
The broad reasons behind poor results in dam-related resettlement are intuitive: dams often require the resettlement of entire communities (rather than, for example, the resettlement of specific households to make way for a road), and dams may also significantly impact on existing livelihood opportunities, by, for example, flooding agricultural areas.
|Kids in rural Laos are now exposed to a world their parents didn't imagine at their age. How does this change their expectations for the future?
A couple of days ago a reader, Nicholas Cantrell, posted a very interesting comment in my post “Nam Theun 2: Just about ready to start filling in.” The comment poised a number of questions, but if