Forced displacement: critical lessons in the protracted aftermath of a flood disaster

Blessing Mucherera*, Samuel Spiegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forced displacement and resettlement is a pervasive challenge being contemplated across the social sciences. Scholarly literature, however, often fails to engage complexities of power in understanding socio-environmental interactions in resettlement processes. Addressing Zimbabwe’s Tokwe-Mukosi flood disaster resettlement, we explore hegemonic uses of state power during the pre- and post-flood induced resettlement processes. We examine how state power exercised through local government, financial, and security institutions impacts community vulnerabilities during forced resettlement processes, while furthering capitalist agendas, drawing insights from analysing narratives between 2010 and 2021. Concerns abound that multiple ministries, the police, and the army undermined displaced people’s resilience, including through inadequate compensation, with state institutions neglecting displaced communities during encampment by inadequately meeting physical security, health, educational, and livestock production needs. We explore how forcibly resettling encamped households to a disputed location is not only an ongoing perceived injustice regionally but also a continuing reference point in resettlement discussions countrywide, reflecting concerns that land use and economic reconfigurations in resettlement can undermine subsistence livelihoods while privileging certain values and interests over others. Policy lessons highlight the need for reviewing disaster management legislation, developing compensation guidelines and reviewing encampment practices. Analytically, lessons point to how state power may be studied in relation to perspectives on the destruction of flood survivors’ connections to place, people and livelihoods, underscoring the critical need for theorising the relationships between power dynamics and diverse experiences around displacement.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jul 2021


  • Flood-induced resettlement
  • Displacement
  • Power
  • political ecology
  • Disaster


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