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  • Ildiko Almasi Simsic

Publishing the Resettlement legislation page

The idea of simplifying processes and having access to resources that speed up our understanding of resettlement legislation has been floating around for a long time. I remember first discussing it with Michaela Bergman while I was working with her at EBRD - a long time ago. We were thinking about who the best people would be to approach: resettlement or legal professionals; how often we would have to update the whole thing; how would we make it available for consultants and clients etc. There was no good answer because we would need to extract very specific information from national legislation around the world that is updated every once in a while. Then an idea came to me: what if we came together as a community to support each other and make our (publicly available) work easily accessible to each other online? I do trust that this community will see the benefit of sharing and will use the resources to save time on legal research and focus on what really matters - the people affected by resettlement!

A little background on my thought process and general approach: The way I see it the issue is very simple: there is often a gap between national legislation and IFI/lender standards and the more stringent is applied to the project. In practice it means that -depending on the country and project of course- national legal frameworks will be overridden by the IFI requirement. This is especially true for developing countries where the ownership structure (traditional) might be different, where informal livelihoods are the main source of income for many, where informal jobs are the norm, in post war countries or disputed territories where ownership documents are lost or not reliable, and the list goes on. There can also be cases where the land market is not developed in a certain area of the country so valuation methods and amounts do not cover replacement value.

My fascination with resettlement started in the 90s in Hungary when EBRD was building the M5 highway. I remember watching the news interviewing PAPs on the land acquisition process. This was pre-PR5 and pre social specialists. My impression as a child was that it is unfair and there must be some way to compensate these poor people who lost agricultural land they relied on for income generation. Life took me on an interesting path through social sciences and I landed at EBRD in their stakeholder and gender team. Not long after I was knocking on the door at ESD with a long list of resettlement related questions! I must have been really annoying, nevertheless I got a chance to join the team as a social analyst. What a wonderful opportunity to begin a -now- lifelong passion for social development! I will forever be grateful for the people who took a chance on me.


Fast forward a couple of years and I have been everywhere: IFI staff member, consultant for IFIs, consultant for public and private sector clients. I designed, drafted, implemented and reviewed several RAPs/LRPs/LALRPs. At some point I took a hard look at my tasks and evaluated them: tasks I enjoyed undertaking, the tasks I found meaningful and value adding, but I also looked at tasks that I was dreading and thought added little value to the overall project. I also looked at the business case: someone is paying me to support engagement with the community, identification of impacts and mitigation/compensation measures. Should I not spend most of my effort and time on that? Should I not be designing the best tools/methodology to gather the necessary baseline data, assessing impacts and coming up with compensation/mitigation measures and potentially pragmatic ways beyond compliance to allow my client to contribute to community development? After all, resettlement is a very personal issue!

Please enjoy the resources that have been uploaded on the website and keep an eye on other developments in the coming months. I’m working hard to optimise a few processes and allow us to spend our time with the most impactful and rewarding part of the job. I’m always happy to get feedback, messages, maybe a few more countries to upload on the page!

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