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Damming China’s rivers to expand its cities: the urban livelihoods of rural people displaced by the Three Gorges Dam

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Over the next two decades, China, the country with the world’s largest urban population, is orchestrating the urbanization of some 300 million rural people. In its National New-Type Urbanization Plan (2014) the State Council has outlined a range of strategies to grow its cities not least of which is rural-to-urban migration. This plan will have significant effects on other types of displacement, particularly, the forced displacement and resettlement of those living in the path of large dams. This paper reviews what is known about New-Type Urbanization Approach to Reservoir Resettlement. Then, based on a longitudinal study of 145 resettled households at the Three Gorges Dam, the livelihood effects of rural-to-urban resettlement are unpacked to provide lessons for its use in advancing urbanization. It finds that rural-to-urban resettlers have lower incomes than their urban-to-urban and rural-to-rural counterparts, and higher rates of food and income insecurity.
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Keywords: China; Three Gorges Dam; forced displacement; rural-to-urban resettlement; urbanization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: March 16, 2018

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