An analysis of the social and environmental drivers of internal resettlement programmes in sub-Saharan Africa

This project will compile and analyse an information database on the nature and drivers of internal resettlement programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. The study will culminate in the presentation of research findings by the student at a Reading-based expert workshop on Climate Change and Resettlement in the summer of 2013, and lead to co-authorship of a peer-reviewed paper in a leading international development journal.

Department: Economic & Social Sciences

Supervised by: Alex Arnall

The Placement Project

Internal resettlement – the systematic relocation of groups of people from one or more places to other locations within a given country – is a common phenomenon in developing countries. This is particularly the case in sub-Saharan African where hundreds of thousands of people have been relocated over the past decade. Many internal resettlement programmes occur due to displacement caused by economic development projects, such as dam construction, and involve private sector agents or international financial institutions. Other programmes are implemented by national governments in the name of ‘development’ and aim to increase the ‘legibility’ of ‘scattered’ rural populations which are viewed as existing on the margins of society. To date, the resettlement impacts literature points overwhelmingly towards the long-term impoverishment of relocated populations. There is general consensus within the international community that internal resettlement will become increasingly common over the next 10-20 years due to a complex range of factors such as climate change and rapidly developing national economies. However, there is little overall understanding of what drives internal resettlement programmes within the African continent, and what the implications of these current trends are for future policymaking on this subject. This standalone, pilot project will help address this knowledge gap by compiling and analysing an information database on the nature and drivers of resettlement in sub-Saharan Africa, and assist with dissemination of research findings. The study will form the basis of a possible Leverhulme International Network or British Academy International Partnership application submitted by the supervisor in the summer of 2013.


With the support of the supervisor, the student will: 1) design and create an Excel spreadsheet to compile key information on internal resettlement programmes (10%); 2) conduct an internet-based literature review of publically-available information on recent, current and planned internal resettlement programmes and projects in sub-Saharan Africa (50%); 3) conduct five key-informant interviews with international resettlement experts (academics and policymakers) via Skype (10%); 4) assist in the production of a two-page report summary based on a preliminary analysis of the spreadsheet and interviews (15%); 5) contribute to a co-authored paper for submission to a leading international development journal (such as ‘Development and Change’ or ‘Journal of International Development’ (10%); 6) present the project at a one-day expert-workshop in Reading in July/August 2013 on Resettlement and Climate Change currently being organised by the supervisor (5%) (funding for this workshop has already been secured).

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The supervisor welcomes applications from students within a range of disciplinary backgrounds including but not limited to environment studies, development studies, geography, economics and sociology. Essential candidate attributes are: a demonstrated interest in international development; reliability, enthusiasm and an ability to work independently; good communication skills in spoken and written English; a basic understanding of Excel and Word. A basic knowledge of French or Portuguese is desirable but not essential.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will develop specific skills in the following areas: spreadsheet design and data management; online searches of published and ‘grey’ literature; arranging and conducting semi-structured interviews; basic qualitative and quantitative data analysis; critical thinking and article-writing; presenting research findings to an audience. The project will lead to second authorship on a peer-reviewed article submitted to a leading international development journal.

Place of Work

University of Reading: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD)

Hours of Work

9-5, Mon-Fri

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 03 June 2013 - Friday 12 July 2013

How to Apply

Students should apply with a CV, cover letter and writing sample (e.g. term paper or written assignment) to Alex Arnall. Applications should be submitted via email to or in hard copy to Alex’s mailbox in the Postgraduate Student Office in the Agriculture Building. Interviews will be conducted either in person or over the phone after the close of the application deadline. The successful applicant will be selected based on their fit with the desired criteria listed above. All students who apply and are judged to meet these criteria will receive an interview, and feedback will be provided to successful and unsuccessful students.

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