LANDac is looking for 3 or 4 researchers based in the Global South. The focus of the research is on the impact of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of an infrastructural project which has been built about ten years ago. We are zooming in on the gap between projected and real impacts of ESIAs. The aim is to improve the positive contribution of ESIAs to responsible investments in infrastructural projects, in particular where these involve displacement. Therefore, we are looking for people with experience in qualitative research methods and knowledge of land governance issues and ESIAs. We offer a maximum budget of €5.000,- to cover the costs of field research, and we provide support throughout the process from the Netherlands.
Infrastructural projects in the Global South often have adverse impacts on the environment and local communities. Environmental and Social Impact Assessments play an important role in making sure these investments happen responsibly but there is considerable debate about the degree to which they achieve this purpose in practice. One of the knowledge gaps is around the long-term experiences of such impacts: How well does this instrument predict long term impacts? And what does this mean for the appropriateness of the proposed mitigation and compensation measures? These questions become especially critical when displacement and resettlement is involved, for the serious impact that it may have on lives and livelihoods. What makes them difficult to answer is that many of the changes caused by infrastructural interventions might only become apparent over a longer time span, and it also takes some time before it becomes clear whether compensation has been sufficient and promises such as durable job opportunities have been kept
The impact of displacement of infrastructural projects are one of LANDac’s core issues. With this research we are zooming in on the gap between projected and real impacts in order to contribute to the improvement of the practice of impact assessment in the Global South. The aim is to improve the positive contribution of social and environmental impact assessments to responsible investments in infrastructural projects, in particular where these involve displacement. Following up on an earlier desk study, we are now launching this possibility for 3 or 4 field-based case studies (see Annex 1. for more information about the research project).
We are looking for (junior) researchers from and based in the Global South to study the impact of the ESIA of an infrastructural project which has been built about ten years ago. As a researcher, you select a case study, conduct data gathering, analyse your findings, formulate empirically based conclusions, and write a case study research report. Field research is supposed to take place between March – April 2022 and LANDac offers a research budget to cover the field research costs and support throughout the process from the Netherlands. The deadline for application is 9 February 2022.
Call for field research
LANDac offers an opportunity for short research engagements for 3 or 4 researchers located in the Global South. Each researcher will propose and conduct a case study on an infrastructural project, involving displacement, realised several years ago, and where a serious impact assessment has been done. Enough years should have passed to be able to see how the project has affected people over the somewhat longer term and compare this to the projections made in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. Prior knowledge about the case and familiarity with some of the key stakeholders are a pre. This field work opportunity might be most interesting for researchers who can integrate the field research with ongoing work or (research) project(s). The assignment is also open to people who have been involved in the impact assessment and are now interested to look at it with an open mind. The research involves primary data collection between March-April 2022.
Each case study should answer the following questions:
The assignment includes case selection, data collection and analysis, and writing:
We expect you to
What we offer
Express your interest
To express your interest, please share your CV, a cover letter (1 page) and a draft work plan (1 page), in which you detail:
Please send your CV, cover letter (including a reference), and draft work plan to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9 February.
9 February 2022 Deadline to express your interest
16 February 2022 Selection of professionals and case studies
March-April 2022 Data collection in selected field sites
22 May 2022 Draft of the research report
5 June 2022 Final version of the report
About the research project
Infrastructural projects are often aimed at development, which should benefit the country and its population. However, adverse impact on the environment and the people often hampers the success of these projects. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment are a key component for responsible investments, as they make ex ante predictions of the expected impacts on the environment as well as on people’s livelihoods. They inform, or should inform, decisions about whether or not to pursue specific interventions, what measures might improve the project design and implementation, and what compensation measures to the displacement affected population would be needed. However, even in best case scenarios, where there is a commitment on the side of government and investors to take impact assessment and compensation seriously, there are questions about the extent to which the ex-ante predictions are accurate and measures proposed sufficient. Key concerns relate to the distribution of costs and benefits of the proposed infrastructure among different social groups. A particularly challenging topic concerns displacement and compensation for loss of livelihood options. What impact did loss of assets and displacement have on people’s lives and livelihoods? Were measures to help people make a fresh start effective? To what extent did the impact assessment make proper predictions? Are there other aspects of loss that became apparent on the long term, which were not considered in the impact assessment and compensation? And what should be the implications if impact assessments missed the mark?
To the background of current concerns about the reduced development impact of infrastructural projects and the dispossessions suffered by populations affected by them – core issues in land governance and in the LANDac agenda in particular- this project zooms in on the gap between projected and real impacts in order to improve the practice of impact assessment. Many of the changes caused by infrastructural interventions might only become apparent over a somewhat longer timespan; whether compensation has been sufficient and, after construction, what more durable job opportunities exist and for whom. Also, people’s choices about where to live and how to re-organize their lives after displacement, need some time to flesh out. This is our reason to study cases ‘ten years after’.
One of the reasons for the gap between projected and real impacts is the complexity of life choices involved and the differentiated ways in which compensation measures impact people’s options and challenges. Impact assessments might improve if these complexities are better anticipated. Additional problems arise around the implementation of compensation measures, which may be badly managed and fail to meet the initial promises. This raises the question to what extent the impact assessment should – and feasibly can– consider potential caveats around implementation of compensation and anticipate ways to address this.
The project addresses the following questions: