Involuntary Resettlement Safeguards

Evaluation Document | 30 September 2006

This evaluates ADB's 1995 policy on involuntary resettlement. Sixteen case studies of projects with involuntary resettlement were done in the People's Republic of China, India, and the Philippines.

This study evaluates the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) 1995 policy on involuntary resettlement. Sixteen case studies of ongoing and completed projects with significant involuntary resettlement were done in the People's Republic of China, India, and the Philippines, aided by small surveys of affected persons. In addition, project completion reports were studied and a range of other sources were accessed. Some ADB staff and project directors of ongoing projects were surveyed.

Summary of findings

  • The policy is relevant to ADB as an institution funding infrastructure and aiming to reduce poverty. ADB's policy is fair and practical. However, the growing emphasis on procedural compliance, when combined with lack of staff to provide hands-on assistance, has been somewhat at the expense of the capacity building goal.
  • The policy outcomes for affected persons and executing agency capacity were effective over the period 1994-2005, but bordering on "less than effective," since procedural compliance-as measured against standards presently adhered to-has been variable among countries and projects. However, procedural compliance appears to be improving as ADB builds up more resettlement expertise. The restoration of livelihood has also been variable over the period, and was not achieved for all affected persons in some projects, but most of them were happy with the new housing offered.
  • The inputs, processes, and systems for policy implementation are less efficient. The study questions the increasing inclusiveness of the policy as reflected in the Resettlement Handbook of 1998 and the revised Operations Manual section of 2003. This growing inclusiveness was not explicitly endorsed by ADB's Board of Directors. In recent years, there has been much more focus on compliance. In combination with the bar being gradually set higher, this has made policy implementation an often painful experience.
  • The policy approach is less likely to be sustainable given the high costs for ADB and clients and the widely diverging views held by various stakeholders. Sustainability is defined here as replicability as shown by a growing acceptance by clients of ADB's inclusive approach. Both incremental and transaction costs work against maintaining and expanding relations with some clients.

Key issues

  • Resettlement planning needs to be clearer about project alternatives considered, due diligence investigations regarding components not financed by ADB or completed before ADB involvement, the application of the policy in different types of operations, and its application under different lending modalities (e.g., policy-based lending), including new lending modalities (e.g., multitranche financing facility).
  • The policy can be further specified regarding the use of the replacement cost concept as a basis for compensation and project assistance in different country contexts, as well as the application of the policy in squatter areas.
  • Procedures for ADB-financed acquisition of land may need to be clarified or new ones developed; since 2005, ADB can include costs for land acquisition in its loans, including allocations for the award of compensation in the case of compulsory acquisition of land.
  • Guidelines should be formulated for the desired period after which economic rehabilitation is to be achieved.
  • More guidelines are needed for the level of consultation of affected persons, and for external monitoring.


  • The study recommends the planned update to the policy be based on a results based framework, and that it better indicates mandatory and non-mandatory but desirable elements. ADB should decide on the level of inclusiveness of the policy, particularly regarding secondary adverse impacts of projects on people.
  • The study recommends an implementation plan that reconciles the labor intensive policy with the resources available. ADB's Management must find ways to balance the staff resources with the dictates of the policy. Options include some combination of the following:
    • allocating more resettlement specialists through reallocation of existing positions or creating more positions
    • identifying ways to focus ADB's scarce resettlement expertise in areas of greatest value added
    • changing the policy in ways that will be less staff intensive for ADB. This may involve making greater use of country systems.