Forced migration due to development projects or environmental change impacts livelihoods, as affected households are faced with new—and often less favorable—environmental, social, and economic conditions. This article examines changing livelihood strategies among a population of rural agricultural households displaced by the Belo Monte Dam in the Brazilian Amazon. Using longitudinal data, I find that many households used compensation payments to concentrate income generation efforts on the most lucrative strategies—cacao and cattle production and business or rental income. Poorer households and those that received the least compensation were more likely to continue relying on agricultural wage labor—a less desirable income source associated with not owning land or with persons needing to supplement income with additional work as a day laborer. Results also indicate that the amount of compensation received by most households was sufficient to enable them to make productive investments beyond attaining replacement land and housing. Many households invested in assets such as agricultural infrastructure, cattle, rental houses, or tractors—all of which directly contribute to future income. Displacement compensation, similar to remittances or conditional cash transfers, can therefore act as an important infusion of capital to promote socioeconomic development and poverty reduction.
Forced migration and changing livelihoods in the Brazilian Amazon
Article published in World Development
Article published in Global Environmental Change