The effect of involuntary resettlement on the quality of life of project affected persons: A case study of Mwea irrigation project, Kirinyaga county, Kenya
Kenya’s Vision 2030 (Republic of Kenya, 2007) recognizes Mwea Irrigation Development Project as one of the major flagship projects under water and sanitation. Such projects necessitates involuntary resettlement of project affected persons. In order to present an accurate assessment of the effects of any development project, it is not only important that the impact of a development project is seen to be positive, project affected persons also ought to perceive this to be the case. This calls for a consideration of theories that relate project affected persons as stakeholders, their quality of life as the major dimension of analysis. The broad objective of the study was to establish the effect of involuntary resettlement on the quality of life of persons affected by the irrigation development project. The study was conducted within the catchment area and downstream of Mwea Irrigation Development Project in Kirinyaga County. Data was collected from Kabare area and lower parts of Mwea in Kirinyaga South Sub-County where people were displaced by the project. Descriptive survey design was employed. The target population was 709 families displaced by the development project in Kabare and Mwea villages in Gichugu Constituency. This comprised 255 households who opted for land-for-land and 454 households who opted for cash-for-land compensation. The sample size was 146 project affected households. Stratified random sampling based on the choice of compensation was applied. Data was collected through administration of questionnaires to the project affected persons and Key Informant Interviews were held with area chiefs, project officials and representatives of the project affected persons. The data was analysed using descriptive statistical techniques such as mean and percentages. Data was analysed using SPSS version 20. The findings showed that the resettlement process led to the improvement in quality of life of 79% of the respondents. The resettlement project positively impacted housing quality, income and environmental quality without significantly interfering with peaceful coexistence in the community, social relations or disrupting culture and tradition. The irrigation project was of importance to the project affected persons. Future involuntary resettlement programs should adopt a bimodal approach to compensation whereby both cash and land are awarded as compensation. Cash compensation should especially be provided in phases to help reduce cases of people wasting away the compensation money and becoming squatters on the site of the project. In case of partial compensation, the compensation policy should ensure that where the remaining parcel of land is uneconomical to the project affected person, the land should be fully acquired by the project and the owners fully compensated. Grievance committees should also be set to hear appeals made by family members and interested parties involved in resettlement disputes.