Third World Planning Review

Sustainability and institutional perspectives on natural resource planning and management at the Ukwimi resettlement scheme, Zambia

Third World Planning Review (2001), 23, (4), 431–450.

Abstract

The Ukwimi refugee settlement was established in 1986 to cater for Mozambican refugees, and was praised by many as successfully establishing food self-sufficiency (see, for example, Billard, 1989). However, it received considerable criticism, particularly for its natural resource management, top-down planning and short-term perspective, in an article published in this journal nine years ago (Black and Mabwe, 1992). After the repatriation of refugees in 1994, because its infrastructure was already in place, Ukwimi was designated a resettlement scheme. This paper explores the suitability of resettlement schemes as a post-repatriation land use, by critically tracing the changes in approach to the management of the settlement since repatriation. Attention is given to understanding the role of natural resources (particularly those that are not privately owned) in the livelihood strategies of the settlers, and the extent to which the authorities have addressed some of the land and natural resource problems identified by Black and Mabwe. Data were collected through extensive interviews with settlers and key informants. It was found that, while greater efforts are being made to secure a sustainable future for the area, a top-down approach still prevails. A range of renewable natural resources plays a central role in the livelihoods of settlers, and the foundations of spontaneously emerging self-governing institutions are evident in some areas of natural resource management. Emphasis needs to be placed on nurturing their growth, to foster a greater degree of self-reliance and local investment in resources. It is concluded that resettlement schemes can be a valuable post-repatriation land use for refugee settlements, if settled at appropriate population densities with the aim of devolving power and responsibility to the settlers.

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Jones, Samantha