Involuntary Resettlement in Infrastructure Projects
A perennial issue with megaprojects and mega-events is the involuntary resettlement and forced displacement that are often associated with infrastructure development. Mega-events involve large stadium and transportation projects to support an influx of visitors, and they often cause the displacement of local, low-income residents. An estimated 720,000 low-income workers, renters, and squatters were forcibly evicted to make room for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea (Davis 2007). In Atlanta, Georgia, the controversial demolition of Techwood Homes, one of the first U.S. public housing projects, located between the Olympic venue and the Georgia Institute of Technology campus, displaced all of its residents.
Similarly, with mega-projects, particularly dams, the objectives of infrastructure development and human development frequently collide, as Robert Picciotto notes in this paper. For example, Ghana’s Akosombo Hydroelectric Project created the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Volta, which covers nearly 4 percent of the country’s land and displaced 80,000 people, nearly 1 percent of the population. The dam provides a substantial amount of electric power to the West African nation and its neighbors, Togo and Benin. The reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam in China displaced over a million people as of 2008. Differences between resettlement standards promulgated by international agencies and the practices applied by many governments remain unresolved.
This paper was presented at the Lincoln Institute’s annual Land Policy Conference in 2012 and is Chapter 9 of the book Infrastructure and Land Policies.