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.
Elmer Mercado
July 10, 2018

very informative and relevant to a lot of cities in developing countries like the Philippines. should be a main discussion for urban planners, designers and city officials.

Dr. J. Michael Cobb
July 22, 2018

Important report. Thank you. This should be a pressing issue being addressed by national leaders in the Global South regarding their rapidly expanding cities and unmanaged peri-urban settlements. With attractive incentives provided by governments, the private sector should also become an active vital parter in providing win-win arrangements for more sustainable urban development benefiting all segments of society.

Mohamed Ghani Razaak
March 06, 2019

This is a very important area for social development specialists to engage which shows that urban resettlement must view and carry-out as pro-poor development activity . My experience with Metro Colombo Urban Development Project in Sri Lanka is another good example of how some of the poorer segment of Colombo population got benefitted not only having a better housing and post livelihood support but also the Government took the project RPF to develop its national urban resettlement strategy which informal settlers have been recognized for their right to obtain housing units. Happy to share my experience.