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Why have guidelines failed to transform resettlement experiences? To answer this question, this study employs first-hand experience of resettlement at Manantali (Mali). It presents the most recent formulation of Cernea’s risks and reconstruction model and the World Bank guidelines, and looks at the ability of resettlement programs to address economic and power issues. This paper identifies places where improvements have occurred: social welfare, recognition of the importance of social capital as well as secure land access, attempts to make compensation more equitable and useful, and avoidance of unnecessary resettlement. Moreover, it examines areas where risks are known but resettlement practice remains problematic. This paper concludes with a discussion of the potential problems involved in moving from an economic approach to a more explicitly political-economic one.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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