There are villages who have seen others get resettled before them, and are driving a hard bargain.  They have seen the difficulties faced by the resettled villages and know there is no location to which they could be moved that could provide them with the wealth of resources they have in their homeland, inside what is now the park. Confronted with the government's mandate to resettle, they are trying to negotiate what they need.

The negotiation process is called ‘participation’, heeding the World Bank policy for involuntary resettlement at the request of the German donors.  This so-called ‘participation’ more closely resembles a theatre in which leaders are coerced into accepting resettlement and allowed to shape insignificant decisions. It is a highly political process (Milgroom 2015)

Although the villages must ‘agree' to being resettled because this process was deemed a ‘voluntary' resettlement initiative (Milgroom & Spierenburg 2008), and careful impression management is taking place, government and park officials are playing a complex power game .   The limits of the participatory space are carefully drawn:  village leaders can request an extra window or m2 of their house or plot size, they can ask for the transport to take place on Tuesday rather than Saturday, they can ask for a ceremony to by funded and organised by the park, but they cannot negotiate about resources crucial to their livelihoods, such as more land for grazing or cropping.  Villages have the leverage to delay the process of resettlement, to deny to be resettled until the government official of the day loses patience and lays down the law. This is hardly meaningful participation.

I call on the World Bank Social Safeguard team to recognise that this is not compliance to their policy, rather this is using the policy to justify coercion and land dispossession.      

Jessica Milgroom