Development-induced Displacement and Accountability in Development Aid



Project Coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai

Research Cluster:
Rethinking Development Cooperation

Project's aims:
Writing reports on the topic, covering a case study of development-induced displacement (India, Thailand, Ghana) or an overview of existing accountability mechanisms in development aid (Germany); Organizing a workshop in Kassel


Research by the World Bank and the University of Oxford indicates that every year, an estimated 10 mil. people lose their homes and their livelihoods due to displacement by development projects (McDowell 1996, de Wet 2005). As development projects are normally assumed to improve the lives of people in countries defined as ‘less developed’, this result seems unexpected and apparently supports claims of radical Post-Development critics about the ‘violence of development’ (Nandy 1995, Apffel-Marglin/Marglin 1990). It also points to the lack of functional accountability mechanisms in development cooperation that could prevent such displacements. Although the World Bank has introduced an accountability mechanism (the Inspection Panel) in 1994 (Clark et al. 2003), it covers only a tiny minority of projects. However, since then, new accountability mechanisms have been established on the multilateral level and are at least being discussed on the bilateral level of development aid.


Apffel-Marglin, Frédérique/Marglin, Stephen (Hrsg.), 1990: Dominating Knowledge: Development, Culture and Resistance. Oxford.

Clark, Dana/Fox, Jonathan/Treakle, Kay (eds) 2003: Demanding Accountability. Civil-Society Claims and the World Bank Inspection Panel. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

de Wet, Chris 2005: Development-Induced Displacement: Problems, Policies, and People. Oxford: Berghahn.

McDowell, Christopher 1996: Understanding Impoverishment. The Consequences of Development-Induced Displacement. Oxford: Berghahn

Nandy, Ashis 1995:  Development and Violence. Trier: Zentrum für europäische Studien.


  • A workshop in 2017 with paper presentations in the topic of development-induced displacement

  • Two special issues "Development & Change" and "Peripherie"

  • Additional research in Mali to broaden the scope of the project

  • On the more general issue of “Rethinking Development Cooperation”, a keynote address was given at a joint conference with the German Development Institute DIE in Bonn in 2018