Published on Sustainable Cities

Urban expansion and resettlement can be a win-win for cities and communities: Case studies from five countries

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Our planet is undergoing a process of rapid urbanization, and the next few decades will see unprecedented growth in urban areas, including in urban infrastructure. Most of the growth will take place in low-and middle-income countries.
The expansion and development of urban areas require the acquisition of land, which often requires physical relocation of people who own or occupy that land.

How can urban resettlement become a development opportunity for those affected by the process of urban development?

A World Bank report titled Urban Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement: Linking Innovation and Local Benefits offers useful examples:
  • In Mumbai, India, over 100,000 people were relocated from urban slums along railway lines into new housing flats with improved living conditions within the city. It shows how community organizations can actively support complex resettlement processes. It also shows how the private sector can play a key role in leveraging the potential created by high value land to provide sustainable housing solutions for displaced populations at no cost to the government. (Read pages 29-45 of the report to learn more.) 
  • In Nouakchott, Mauritania, collective approaches with strong community participation helped address difficult challenges related to the relocation of thousands of vulnerable people from urban slums. (Read pages 46-60 of the report to learn more.) 
  • Cultural heritage projects in Fez, Morocco and in Lahore, Pakistan show how well-designed and delivered resettlement can enable the relocation of hundreds of informal artisans and street sellers in a manner that results in enhanced skills and livelihoods. (Read pages 61-88 of the report to learn more.) 
  • Finally, in Brazil, the sharing of good international urban land acquisition and resettlement practices influenced the Ministry of Cities to incorporate such practices into national laws and regulations. (Read pages 15-27 of the report to learn more.)
We hope that our report, Urban Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement:  Linking Innovation and Local Benefits, will inspire urban development specialists and resettlement professionals to work together to develop approaches that help convert urban resettlement into a development opportunity. We invite you to read the report, share it on social media, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
This blog post is part of the World Bank’s “ Social Safeguards in Action ” blog series. Learn more about the series here .


Maninder Gill

Global Director, Environmental and Social Framework

Vincent Roquet

Senior Social Development Specialist

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