Challenges to Relocation and Compensation of Rural Communities Displaced by Development Projects in Zimbabwe

This research paper outlines the challenges rural communities experience when they have to cede state land they are entitled to occupy and use in order to pave way for development projects. Due to weaknesses in the land tenure systems and the lack of a harmonized and comprehensive policy framework on compensation in Zimbabwe, local communities face severe risks in terms of livelihoods and socio-economic development, if they are physically relocated. As a result, relocation processes often create conflicts between the affected communities and the responsible authorities, which in some cases stall development projects. For the purpose of this research, three representative relocation cases from the Midlands Province were investigated, in which the authorities had applied different approaches. The paper analyses the impact of the relocations on the affected communities, their satisfaction with the processes, and the strengths and weaknesses of the applied approaches in terms of consultations and negotiations, resettlement on alternative land, compensation for improvements and disturbances, and rehabilitation of social, economic and cultural development. Based on the findings, the research paper presents key recommendations which are designed to minimize conflicts and facilitate mutual agreements between the responsible authorities and affected communities. Thereby, this research paper intends to contribute to the development of comprehensive policies regulating the relocation and compensation of rural communities affected by development projects.