Rethinking post-disaster relocation in urban India
After natural disasters, governments often relocate vulnerable urban communities in the name of humanitarian relief. But urban communities rarely welcome such relocation, since it frequently exacerbates their daily challenges or creates new risks. Indeed, resettlement after a disaster is often another form of eviction. This briefing discusses the situation in Chennai, where state and local authorities have been building resettlement tenements on inland marsh areas using centrally sponsored schemes for affordable housing. These have been used as a ‘quick fix’ after disasters, but without addressing communities’ underlying needs and inequalities. Their siting has also increased flood risk across the urban area, creating new risks. Instead, India should develop participatory and risk-reducing plans and policies for relocation, and also help vulnerable communities address the risks where they currently live. This briefing is part of the project ‘Longterm implications of humanitarian responses: a case of Chennai’. The research was conducted in 2016 by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and Madras Institute for Development Studies (MIDS).