• SmallBanner 01
  • SmallBanner 02
  • SmallBanner 03

Livelihood impacts of displacement and resettlement on informal households – A case study from Kigali, Rwanda

Author / Authors:

  • Alice Nikuze
  • Richard Sliuzas
  • Johannes Flacke
  • Martin van Maarseveen


Cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are undergoing massive socio-spatial transformations. Many old inner-city neighbourhoods are being demolished to give way to modern commercial and residential developments, and generally, to a more modern living environment. These ambitions often lead to manifold displacement and resettlement projects that affect the livelihoods of millions of people, including many from informal settlements. Given the novelty of urban space transformations in Sub-Saharan African countries, empirical research on the impacts on affected urban households is rare. Based on research conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, this paper discusses livelihood impacts, of urban redevelopment and disaster risk mitigation induced resettlement projects, on affected informal settlement households. This contribution draws on interviews and focus group discussions undertaken with both households to be displaced and resettled households, as well as interviews with key informants during fieldwork. The findings highlight that, irrespective of potential opportunities of resettlement projects to deliver improved housing to poor informal households, most displaced informal households in Kigali endure several adverse impacts on their physical, financial, social, and human livelihood assets. While previous studies narrowed displacement impacts to post-relocation impacts, this research shows that affected informal households also endure significant adverse livelihood impacts in the pre-relocation stage. Uncertainties during the pre-relocation phase are significant causes of impoverishment risks among the households likely to be displaced. Accurate and detailed information of the resettlement projects need to be communicated in the early stage of the process to avoid the unnecessary impoverishment risks of affected households. Clear transparent guidelines on entitlements and compensation for each displacement type need to be disclosed and discussed with affected communities. We conclude that an understanding of livelihood impacts in both the pre- and post-relocation stages offers a holistic conceptualisation, which is required to mitigate impoverishment risks and to protect and improve the livelihoods of affected households throughout the entire relocation process.

Habitat International, Volume 86, Pages 38-47


  • Journal Article