Floods, resettlement and land access and use in the lower Zambezi, Mozambique

Artur, L.; Hilhorst, D.


Planned resettlement is increasingly legitimated on account of disasters and vulnerability to climate change. This article looks at resettlement following the 2007 floods in the delta Zambezi in Mozambique. The flooding displaced about 56,000 households, which the government intended to permanently resettle. Four years later the government resettlement program has been object of competing claims of success or failure. In this paper we step away from these entrenched positions. Resettlement, in our view, is an arena of multiple meanings and objectives, with differentiated outcomes for different categories of actors. The resettlement led to a reconfiguring of power relations and land-use. The paper analyses the resettlement policy as a continuation of a history of resettlement to enhance control and modernization of rural folks. It then demonstrates how local chiefs first resented resettlement as this would imply loss of territory-based power, yet moved to occupy elite locations and housing. Local families had differentiated responses depending on their capacities and aspiration to change to a modern lifestyle. Most families opt for a mixed lifestyle, by partly living in and adapting to the resettlement area, and partly retaining their old residence and way of life.