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Using locally controlled funds to support the development of communities affected by large dams

A new animation from GWI West Africa, one in a three-part series, explains how local development funds can provide long-term financing to communities who lose their livelihoods when the construction of dams forces them from their land.

As the three-minute video, "Sharing the revenue from large dams to support local development", explains, these funds work by channelling a portion of a dam’s revenue stream towards the development of affected areas..

Large dams are built primarily with the vision of delivering national development goals – for example by providing electricity or irrigation. But local communities whose lives are disrupted by the dam should also see their development supported on the ground in the long term.

Money from the development fund can be invested in schools, health clinics, markets, reservoirs for fishing, better roads and water supplies, and watershed conservation activities.

Resettlement programmes go some way to compensating for lost homes and lands but last only four or five years and are rarely long enough to fully rebuild livelihoods. The past has shown how resettled communities may slip into poverty post-dam construction because they do not have access to good quality land, jobs or the services they need to re-establish their lives over the longer term.

Local development funds run throughout the lifetime of a dam and can support livelihood opportunities when the compensation money runs out. These funds work particularly well because they allow local people to decide how the money is spent.

“The main goal of large dam building is to bring benefits on a national scale. But local communities, who have been displaced by the dam, are often left without sufficient means and rights to rebuild their lives,” said Jamie Skinner, principal researcher in IIED's Natural Resources research group, who leads the West Africa programme of GWI.

“We’ve created this short animation to inform decision makers and other stakeholders about the potential of local development funds to allow affected communities to take direct advantage of the dam’s benefit. Local development funds are a win-win solution for governments, where large dam construction achieves a good balance between local and national development objectives. Furthermore, they are included in the ECOWAS Directive on Large Water Infrastructure.”

 

This video can be streamed (top of the page) or downloaded (right click on the link below and select "Save link as..."), and is also available in French.

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