After the Deluge

umelb_logoCentre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Melbourne

The longer term impacts of the Three Gorges Dam

Dr Brooke Wilmsen
La Trobe University

5.30-7.00pm Thursday 5 May 2016
Evan Williams Theatre (G03), Richard Berry Building, Monash Road , University of Melbourne

In 2015 the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze River will officially end with the completion of the ship lift. For the more than 1.13 million people displaced for its construction, their livelihoods were disrupted by dispossession. Over the last two decades they have been busily rebuilding – using their various assets, resources and strategies to adjust to the altered environment. To assist them, the Chinese Government used a unique toolbox of policy and incentives to stimulate the local economy. Whether the resettlers benefited from such initiatives, however, is not yet understood. To this end, this paper offers the first publicly available longitudinal analysis of the outcomes of resettlement since the completion of the dam. Changes in income, food security and social wellbeing are analysed across three time periods; pre-resettlement, post-resettlement (2003) and 2011. It finds that following displacement in 2003, the majority of resettlers were struggling to meet even their basic needs; but eight years later, the gains across all three measures have been substantial. Even more significant, however, is that the poorest resettlers and those forced from farms − either to new farms or urban areas – exhibited significant improvements in income, food security and social wellbeing. This paper is the first indication that the resettlers are recovering from the upheaval of the world’s largest dam.

Dr Brooke Wilmsen is a Discovery Early Career Research Fellow in the School of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University, Melbourne. She has a background in Development Studies with a PhD in Geography. She has worked as a resettlement consultant for several international institutions, government affiliates and private consultancies. She has several years of qualitative and quantitative research experience working on issues of development-forced displacement and resettlement with a focus on the Three Gorges Dam in the People’s Republic of China. Brooke has also conducted research on refugee resettlement in Australia.

We note that admission is free, but registration is essential: