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Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects: The case of Macdom-ARDA Chisumbanje ethanol project in Chipinge, Southeastern Zimbabwe



Elitist socio-economic policies are largely responsible for community displacements in Africa. Historically, colonial governments' landintensive projects were major disruptive phenomena for the affected communities. Practically, however, displacement unsettles communities, upsets cultural or traditional practices, justice systems and communal livelihoods. Quite often, communal displacement represents low regard for human rights by state and non-state actors. Ironically, planners of displacements often adopt and deploy the rhetoric of sustainable development and modernism. In Zimbabwe, the persistent conclusion in displacement narratives is that land dispossessions pushed Africans into supporting the nationalist movements of the 1960s and the liberation struggle that followed. However, post-independence joint projects have continued to haunt communities. This paper presents moral issues associated with development-induced displacements and resettlement. It provides communal narratives emanating from the Public-Private Partnership Macdom-ARDA Chisumbanje ethanol project, arguing that the project is morally objectionable insofar as it is responsible for the displacement of thousands of local people.
nt. J. Sustainable Developmen
, Vol. 18, No. 4, 2015 349
Copyright © 2015 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development
projects: the case of Macdom-ARDA Chisumbanje
ethanol project in Chipinge, Southeastern Zimbabwe
Elias G. Konyana*
Faculty of Arts,
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies,
Great Zimbabwe University,
P.O. Box 1235, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
*Corresponding author
Macloud Sipeyiye
Faculty of Arts,
Department of Theology and Religious Studies,
Midlands State University,
P Bag 9055, Senga, Gweru, Zimbabwe
Abstract: Elitist socio-economic policies are largely responsible for
community displacements in Africa. Historically, colonial governments’ land-
intensive projects were major disruptive phenomena for the affected
communities. Practically, however, displacement unsettles communities, upsets
cultural or traditional practices, justice systems and communal livelihoods.
Quite often, communal displacement represents low regard for human rights by
state and non-state actors. Ironically, planners of displacements often adopt and
deploy the rhetoric of sustainable development and modernism. In Zimbabwe,
the persistent conclusion in displacement narratives is that land dispossessions
pushed Africans into supporting the nationalist movements of the 1960s and
the liberation struggle that followed. However, post-independence joint
projects have continued to haunt communities. This paper presents moral
issues associated with development-induced displacements and resettlement.
It provides communal narratives emanating from the Public-Private Partnership
Macdom-ARDA Chisumbanje ethanol project, arguing that the project is
morally objectionable insofar as it is responsible for the displacement of
thousands of local people.
Keywords: development; ethics; development projects; development-induced
displacement; sustainable development.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Konyana, E.G. and
Sipeyiye, M. (2015) ‘Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development
projects: the case of Macdom-ARDA Chisumbanje ethanol project in Chipinge,
Southeastern Zimbabwe’, Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, No. 4,
350 E.G. Konyana and
. Sipeyiye
Biographical notes: Elias G. Konyana is an Educationist and Lecturer of
Philosophy (Ethics, Logic and Philosophy of Religion) at Great Zimbabwe
University (GZU), Zimbabwe. He has vast University teaching experience
gained from lecturing at the University of Zimbabwe and Midlands State
University before joining GZU. In addition, the author has written several book
chapters and published papers on ethics, development, religion and cultural
issues. Currently, he is pursuing PhD studies in Ethics with the University of
KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. He is married to Shoorai and they have three
Macloud Sipeyiye is a Lecturer of Religious Studies (African Indigenous
Religions) at Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe. He is a Doctoral
student in the same department. He is a prolific writer who has published
papers and book chapters on issues related to the interface between African
Indigenous Religions and development, the environment, health, politics and
conflict resolution with particular reference to Zimbabwe. He is also doing PhD
studies in Religious Studies (African Initiated-Churches and HIV/AIDS) with
Midlands State University. He is married and has three children.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled
‘Towards inclusive sustainable socio-economic development: quest for new
paradigms for development projects in rural communities in Zimbabwe’
presented at the Research and Intellectual Expo Conference, University of
Zimbabwe, 3–6 September, 2014.
1 Introduction
For many people in rural communities, development is closely linked to the idea
of progress. It has been the mark of generational advancement from time immemorial.
To this end, various societies the world over have been identified as either ‘developed’,
‘developing’ or ‘underdeveloped’. The rhetoric is that the path to a developed society has
been through development projects which have transformed the socio-economic, political
as well as cultural landscape of many a community, albeit displacing rural people from
their areas. Paradoxically, planners of displacements and resettlement programs often
adopt and deploy the rhetoric of what Crocker (2008) calls high modernism. The
ideology of high modernism leads to an overriding belief in the authority and power of
scientific knowledge to improve the human condition through the establishment of state-
sanctioned technical and social engineering projects such as dams, the spatial
reconfiguration of cities, the reorganisation of forests and resettlement schemes. In effect,
however, high modernism implies a radical disjuncture with history and tradition. Its
temporal focus is almost exclusively on a scientifically transformed and better society.
In the context of colonial Zimbabwe’s multiple histories of race and power-laden
spatial dislocations, land dispossessions for purposes of establishing development projects
generated a broad corpus of protest literature. The reason is that, more often than not,
development projects involve the introduction of direct control by a developer over land
previously occupied by another group. Therefore, as Furtado (1971) argues, the way in
which progress is quantified, whether through economic, social or ethical justifications,
determines the way in which people conceptualise development. Ethical issues are
similarly ambiguous, although this arises from the sheer diversity of moral justifications
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects 351
for development-induced displacements that take place in different parts of the world
today. Consequently, the relationship between development and ethics is emotively
complex. It is so inconsistent that it eludes simple definition. Nevertheless, since the first
missionary endeavours of the colonial era, the ethics of development have, for better or
worse, always been involved whenever a development project was established. Thus, the
case of the Macdom – Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA)
Chisumbanje ethanol project is just one of the many projects that have had far-reaching
socio-economic, cultural and ethical issues raised concerning the plight and life of
communities it affected. This paper explores the moral issues associated with
development-induced displacements and resettlement in general. In particular, it provides
the communal narratives emanating from this grand state-sponsored ethanol project,
arguing, in the final analysis, that the project’s establishment remains morally obnoxious.
2 Research methodology
A combination of the historical and the phenomenological methods was employed since
the study intended to argue that it is morally impermissible to displace people for any
purposes, even for establishing development projects that are intended to benefit them.
In addition, a qualitative approach was used to enable the researchers to explore and
achieve an in-depth understanding of the impact of development on the social, religious
and cultural meanings and practices of the affected rural people. Guided by various
authors, the researchers managed to explore how developmental projects affect local
people’s ways of life. We carried out interviews with a number of stakeholders in this
particular development project. These included the local traditional chiefs whose
jurisdiction was curtailed by the investors in the project. These chiefdoms cover the
greater part of Chipinge district where the ethanol project is located. In addition, 15
headmen, drawn from the affected areas, were interviewed. The traditional leaders
represented a wide section of the local people affected.
Furthermore, six local government councillors, drawn from the political wards
covering the affected areas in the respective chieftaincy, were also interviewed along
with the Chipinge District Administrator (DA) and the local Member of Parliament (MP).
The focus on chiefs and the headmen was premised on the idea that traditional leadership
is the custodian of communities’ religious, moral and cultural practices, which were
bound to change as a result of the project’s establishment. Local government
representatives (the DA, MP and the councillors) were included to bring in the side of the
state or central government’s participation in development-induced displacements of
local communities. The investors or developers, Macdom and ARDA Chisumbanje, were
also approached for their views about the project. The information so gathered was
analysed and blended with information from secondary sources to inform discussion on
the issues raised in this paper.
3 Theoretical framework
In the early 1980s, building upon earlier approaches that dealt primarily with the
processes of voluntary resettlement, various African governments, as outlined by Glover
(1995), proposed a four-stage model of how people and socio-cultural systems should
352 E.G. Konyana and
. Sipeyiye
respond to displacement. The stages were labelled conscription, transition, potential
development and handing over or integration. In the conscription phase, policymakers
and/or developers formulate development, displacement and resettlement plans, often
without informing those to be displaced. During transition, people learn about their future
displacement, which heightens their levels of stress. Potential development occurs after
physical relocation has occurred smoothly. The displaced persons begin the process of
rebuilding their economic, political and social networks. Handing over or integration
refers to the entrustment of local production systems and community leadership and
management to a second generation of residents that identifies with and feels at home in
the new community. Once this stage has been achieved, resettlement and relocation is
deemed a success.
However, these models focused on the different behavioural tendencies common to
each of a series of stages through which the resettled persons passed. At first, the models
were formulated to explain the stages of voluntary settlement, and they were only later
applied to some cases of involuntary resettlement, that is, those ‘successful’ cases that
passed through all the four stages. In Zimbabwe, following its independence in 1980 and
throughout the 1990s, the mounting evidence of involuntary resettlement schemes that
failed to pass through all four stages suggested that a new model was necessary to explain
the consequences of involuntary displacement. In particular, it was recognised that a new
theory was necessary to explain what was increasingly being seen as predictable
impoverishment in forced relocation or resettlement schemes, just as was the case during
the pre-independence epoch. As a result, Goulet (1988) suggested the impoverishment
risks and reconstruction (IRR) model which arose in the 1990s in response to the need for
a model that was less violent to the affected communities. In contrast to the earlier
models, the IRR model does not attempt to identify different responses to displacement,
but rather aims to identify the impoverishment risks intrinsic to forced resettlement and
the processes necessary for reconstructing the livelihoods of the displaced communities.
In particular, it stresses that, unless specifically addressed by targeted indigenous or
home-grown policies, forced displacement can cause impoverishment among the
displaced by bringing about landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalisation,
food insecurity, loss of access to common property resources, increased morbidity and
mortality and community dislodgment. To these risks Hardman and Midgely (1981)
added the following disadvantages: loss of access to public services, disruption of formal
educational activities for children, and the loss of civil and human rights. The IRR model
also recognises risks to the host population which, while not identical to those of the
displaced, can also result in impoverishment.
Not all of these processes necessarily occur in each case of forced resettlement and
not all displaced households are necessarily affected in the same way by each process.
Rather, the model notes that, when taken together, these processes capture the reasons
behind many failed resettlement programs. The IRR model has been used as a
framework for a number of studies. For example, Gunatilleke and Tiruchelvam (1983)
use the model to examine India’s experience with involuntary resettlements from 1947 to
1997, examining each of the IRR risks in turn. In his study, Gasper (2004) employs the
model to analyse resettlement operations in two Indian projects – the Upper Indravati
Hydroelectric Project and the Orissa Water Resources Consolidation Project. Again,
Quarles van Ufford and Giri (2003) look specifically at land-based resettlement strategies
in African dam projects, arguing that such strategies must include not only land on which
to resettle, but also common land, adequate productive farmland, full title deeds for land
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects 353
(rather than tenant arrangements) and settler-directed, instead of top-down imposed
development schemes and projects.
4 Development: a brief definition
In general, ‘development’ is a term that can be used to describe the growth of humans
throughout their lifespan, from conception to death. According to Hardman and Midgely
(1981), the scientific study of human development seeks to understand and explain how
and why people change throughout life and this includes all aspects of human growth
including physical, emotional, intellectual, social, perceptual and personality
development. Development for Adger (2009), however, does not just involve the
biological and physical aspects of growth, but also its cognitive, ethical and social
aspects. In this paper we acknowledge that there is no unanimity over the meaning of the
concept of development. Thus we argue that development should represent human
growth in all aspects of life. In our view, ‘development’ should be considered as the
process in which human beings experience abundant life and have their liberties upheld.
We further contend that, ‘development’ suggests that citizens are meeting their basic
needs (food, clothing and shelter) as well as their higher needs (emotional, aesthetic and
intellectual). Although indices of development remain contentious, this paper argues that
it is possible to identify the absence of development. Where there is no development,
there is poverty, oppression and general discontent.
However, the idea of development is as controversial as it is relative. To develop is to
grow. Growth, be it in stature, configuration or competence, therefore, becomes the
measure of all forms of development. Development is the outcome of the process of
growth. It is as natural as much as it can be induced. It goes without saying then that
development is closely linked to the concept, and it is the mark, of progress and increase
in value. This conception of development implies that development is desirable to any
person because it brings with it increase in both quantity and quality. Thus, development
improves, or it is the process of improving the quality of life lived by those experiencing,
and affected by, it. This is to say that development aims at the common good.
5 Is development a ‘Necessary evil’?
When development is conceived of as given, in the above perspective it becomes
attractive and readily acceptable. Every community would clamour to go through some
form of development for the improvement of the quality of life of its members. However,
development is only possible, at least in the majority of cases, through the route of
development projects. A development project is a scheme or plan to be undertaken in a
community so that when the scheme is completed the local people’s welfare is improved.
A development project, therefore, aims to improve the local people’s way of life.
Nevertheless, most development projects often involve the introduction of direct control
by a developer over land previously occupied by another group. For example, some
development projects such as natural resource extraction, urban area expansion, industrial
parks and infrastructure constructions (e.g., highways, bridges, irrigation schemes and
dams) all require large tracts of land. This means that, in order to pave way for
development, people have to be moved away from such land. On the other hand, when
354 E.G. Konyana and
. Sipeyiye
indigenous communities are alienated from their lands because of development, they are
often left to scrape an existence on the margins of society. This is certainly not a sign of
development. Many such projects result in human rights violations involving forced
evictions, displacement and even loss of life when social unrest and conflict over natural
resources control and expropriation erupt. This is certainly not what we conceived as
development. Natural resource extraction projects such as farming are land and water
intensive and often directly affect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their
lands and territories. All too often we see conflict between corporations, indigenous
peoples and the State over development projects which are initiated without proper
consultation or the consent of the very people who are dispossessed of their land.
What, then, is the purpose of ‘development’ when it results in destabilisation of
communities which are supposed to be developed? Or, is development ‘a necessary evil’?
6 Ethics/morality in perspective
The word ethics refers both to a discipline and the study of values, traditions and actions
and their justification and to the subject matter of that discipline, the actual values and
rules of conduct by which we live (Solomon, 1993). Thus, on the one hand, ethics
includes the whole garmont of acceptable social and personal practices ranging from the
rules of conduct to the institutions that govern the kind of work and how we do it. In this
case, ethics refers to the general science which enquires into the meaning and purpose of
life and conduct. Esquith and Gifford (2009) also observe that ethics represents a
systematic attempt at considering the purposeful actions of mankind, to determine their
rightness or wrongness, their tendency to good or evil. On the other hand, morality is a
subset of ethics. It is more specific, particularly significant and transcends boundaries of
any particular culture or situation. Thus, the distinction between ethics and morality
(ethics as the whole of our sense of self and our place in society and morality as the core,
universal and most sacrosanct rules in any society) is not always followed in general
conversations and philosophical discourses. To that effect, this paper uses the words
‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ interchangeably.
7 Development-induced displacement: an oxymoron
The implication of the preceding part is that the displacement of people by development
projects is morally objectionable and that it should be prevented because it does the
opposite of what development means and seeks to achieve. This paper argues that
displacing people for development purposes is morally objectionable. We notice that the
phrase development-induced displacement is, in fact, an oxymoron in that, on the one
hand, it implies ‘development’, which is linked to progress or the improvement of the
quality of life. But, on the other hand, there is ‘displacement’ implying destabilisation,
disorientation and disruption of communities and people’s livelihoods. So, how do we
handle this complication? This question comes from the two diametrically opposed
orientations imbedded in the oxymoron itself. The first argues that economic
advancement (development) has always meant that the landscape of production and
distribution is changed and people are often obligated to move as a result. It also claims
that people need to learn to adjust and, perhaps, that they should be helped to adjust and
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects 355
become accustomed to their new settings. It further claims that displacement has been
ubiquitous in all forms of development, whether capitalist or socialist. In fact, Hamelink
(1997) maintains that displacement reflects mobility and as such it is the opposite of
immobility or the idea of being trapped in a particular place. It is a fact that mobility is
desirable for it brings about progress while immobility is not because it does not.
Again, the former indicates freedom; the latter, lack of freedom. In any case, the
argument concludes, as long as development serves the public interest or the common
good, then there are no ethical issues implicated.
It is important, however, to note that the above position represents a form of
developmentalism that is morally naive in that it treats only the ends of development as
involving moral judgements, excluding the means. Thus, it allows the treatment of
persons as means to a desired end, contradicting Kant’s Categorical Imperative
provisions which veto against the treatment of persons as means to any end.
The other orientation that would short-circuit an ethical analysis is the opposite of the
first. It is no less one dimensional morally. According to this perspective, the
displacement of people is ethically unacceptable and so are any development projects and
policies that lead to it. But, this line of argument ignores the justifications that can and
have been offered for development-induced displacement. Simplistic morality, whether
pro or anti-development, is disagreeable. In the end, our position is that both the means of
development and their justifications require ethical appraisal.
8 Contextual rendition of development through community narratives
8.1 Development in context
To explore the different perspectives on development projects in rural communities, we
interviewed various stakeholders in the ethanol project. The idea was to find out their
conception of development in general and what the ethanol project meant for them and
the others involved.
8.1.1 Local people’s views
The first group to be approached was that of the traditional leadership; the chiefs and
their headmen, representing the local people. The following views came out from them as
represented by Chief Garahwa and Chief Musikavanhu (interviewed on 12 January 2013
and 27 March 2013, respectively). They agreed with their respective headmen Mahenye,
Chisumbanje, Takwirira and Machona who had been interviewed earlier on. They gave
an up-to-the-point narrative which the authors captured in their local Ndau language as:
“Hatirambi budiriro munharaunda yedu. Budiriro chiro chakanaka yaamho
ngekuti inobetsereka maningi. Chokutanga, vana vedu vanoona mishando,
vosiya kunzerereka vachiita zvisina shwiro. Chechipiri, tinoonawo
zvekushandisa semapato, mvura yekumwa yakachena, makiriniki uye zvikora.
Asi panotinesa ngepekuti budiriro yacho inounzwa pakati pedu tisingabhuyirwi
ngezvayo. Semunomu, takangangoona muyungu uyu Macdom aunzwa
ngeARDA, ozwi ndiye aakutora minda yeshe yatainge nayo kuti arime nzimbe
dze ethanol. Pasina nguva, takaona paakuvakwa fekitori ye ethanol kuchitorwa
vanhu vekuretu kuti vashande. Minda yeshe yatairima magwere esadza netonje
rekutengesa yakatorwa. Atisisina pekurima kuti tizviraramise. Sakei teiti iyi
356 E.G. Konyana and
. Sipeyiye
budiriro yakatipa dambudziko uye atisi kudakara ngezvayo. Pamusoro peizvi,
makuwa evasharukwa vedu aasisina unongwarira. Nendau dzetaitira
zvechivanhu chedu dzave pamhene. (We are not against development.
Development is a good thing for it helps us a lot. First, our children get jobs
and stop loitering and being mischievous. Secondly, we get utilities such as
roads, clean drinking water, clinics and schools. But where we are troubled is
when the development project is brought in our midst without consultation, our
knowledge and involvement. As in this area, we just saw a white man Macdom
who was brought by ARDA to occupy all the land we had so that he grows
sugarcane for ethanol. In no time, a factory was built with labourers being hired
from faraway places. All the land we used to grow maize for our subsistence
and cotton for sale was taken away. Now we do not have land to cultivate
maize for self-sustenance. That is why we are saying this development project
brought problems and we are not happy with it. In addition, the graves of our
ancestors have no one to look after them now. Our sacred shrines where we
used to hold our traditional ceremonies have been exposed.)”
It is clear from these views that local traditional leadership is very supportive of
development projects in their respective areas. However, the leadership claims that they
were not consulted prior to the establishment of the development project, but were forced
to create space for the project. It is this approach that has given rise to so much resistance
to the establishment of development projects in a number of rural areas in African
communities. The socio-ethical sources of this resistance are attached to the local
people’s concept of land ownership. In this regard, Verstraelen (1998) observes that:
“The land forms a close and enduring bond between the living and the dead:
through their control of the fertility of the land they once cultivated, the spirits
are believed to continue to care for their descendants and the descendants are
forced to remember and honour their ancestors.”
For many Africans, the land symbolises belonging, connectedness and continuity. In
support of this conception of land use and importance, Bakare (1993) has this to say:
“Land (house) is a place of connection with mother earth, where one’s roots
are, where one’s umbilical cord has been buried, where one’s ancestors are
deposited, a place of connection and orientation. To sum up, land for
Zimbabweans consists of things that can be qualified and not quantified.
It offers them identity, a livelihood and it is sacred.”
8.1.2 The investors’/developers’ views: Macdom and ARDA Chisumbanje
The developers/investors were also interviewed. They stated that the ethanol project was
a clear demonstration and fulfilment of the Zimbabwean government’s policy of
empowering local people and industry through the public-private-partnership strategy.
They further contended that since well before independence, the then Southern Rhodesian
government and, after independence, the Zimbabwe government, had been looking for an
investor to partner with in the project which had always been on the cards but could not
take off because there were no well-resourced investors to partner with. So, when
Macdom approached the Zimbabwe government for partnership through ARDA
Chisumbanje in the ethanol project, that was a welcome development.
With regard to the inevitable displacement of the local villagers, ARDA Chisumbanje
claimed that the local villagers had always been told about the possibility of the project’s
establishment. To this effect, the villagers had been warned against planting crops and
building permanent structures within the vast area of land designated for the project.
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects 357
However, since the project took very long to come about, the villagers had continued to
ignore ARDA Chisumbanje’s calls. That is why, eventually, when the project started,
there were contestations between the investors and the local villagers, leading to violent
clashes in some instances. In the face of bitter resistance to displacement and relocation,
the investors came up with compensation arrangements for the displaced. It included a
five-hactare irrigated plot for each displaced family and monetary payments equivalent to
the value of the infrastructure each family lost. Besides this, the company management of
Green Fuel, the company in charge of running the project, was upbeat about the potential
benefits of the project to the locals and the nation at large. The benefits ranged from
employment creation for the local people to foreign currency earnings for the country
through the export of electricity to be generated by the ethanol plant. However, there
were mixed reactions from the villagers with some accepting the arrangement and yet
others refusing as outlined in the local people’s views above.
8.1.3 State authorities’ views
When we approached the third group of stakeholders (state authorities) in the ethanol
project, the idea was to bring out the extent to which politicians represented the wishes
and aspirations of the local people. Concerning community involvement before the
inception of the project, the state authorities claimed that the local community was
constantly informed of the developments around the establishment of the project through
community leaders as represented by the chiefs and their headmen, the ward councillors,
the District Administrator (DA) and the resident minister or Member of Parliament for
the area. The interviews revealed that the politicians had divergent interests to pursue
through the project. The DA, for example, claimed that the area where the ethanol project
was established had always been set aside for such a large-scale project. He also said that
the local people had no legitimate compensation claims to make since they had
encroached into the area that had always been earmarked for such a project even during
the colonial period. Although the ward councillor for the area was bitter about the
displacements, he could do very little to persuade his superiors to at least push for the
compensation of the affected families. Thus, the political dimensions of the project saw
people being polarised along the main political parties, that is, ZANU (PF) and the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Those who claimed compensation before
relocation were said to belong to MDC, known for putting up a strong opposition fight
against ZANU (PF), while those pushing for the establishment of the project disregarding
the concerns of the locals were said to be aligned to ZANU (PF).
9 Development-induced displacements: some moral convulsions
The initial impermissible moral import of displacement resides in its very definition.
To displace people means to force them to leave their home, village, town, region or
country for another place in order to create space for something, mostly a project. To the
extent that coercion is morally objectionable, so is displacement, too. Moreover,
displacing people usually involves harming them emotionally, socially and economically,
even when some form of compensation is made. In the majority of cases displaced
persons lose their productive land, sustainable livelihoods, established social networks,
and the cultural and moral patterns contained in their day-to-day lives. The whole
358 E.G. Konyana and
. Sipeyiye
environment from which they would have accumulated extensive experience and
knowledge, to single out the most basic possession, is also taken away. Thus, apart from
the moral objection to coercion, there is the further objection to harming people in ways
other than contravening their wishes and commitments. Harming others for any reason
including development is morally objectionable. To this effect, Quarles van Ufford and
Giri (2003) observe that development projects have the tendency of making some people
from outside the development project area get the gains while the local people get the
pains. In this regard, it is morally repulsive to see that development projects leave the
local community people in pain. Most local people interviewed for this paper said that the
ethanol-producing plant in Chisumbanje was a grand project but they were quick to point
out that since its inception many people’s lives had not gone well. They also indicated
that the various kinds of compensation (including assistance with becoming re-
established in a suitable alternative location) could not offset the emotional harm that the
establishment of the project had brought.
If development-induced displacement has been an ethical humiliation to African
governments, one reason could be that the effects of development-induced displacements
can be so clearly distressing, overshadowing the projected gains of development projects
in general. Gunatilleke and Tiruchelvam (1983) have clearly captured the paradox thus:
whereas development projects are intended to raise the people’s well-being and reduce
poverty, their effect on displaced populations is often impoverishment, disorientation and
10 Recommendations
With regard to the social and community issues, the key suggestion is that all households
that were displaced or mishandled must be compensated and resettled. Lessons must be
learnt, and going forward an inclusive and consultative approach must be adopted. For
example, all the households displaced from the communal lands in Chisumbanje and
Chinyamukwakwa communal lands must be resettled. Green fuels should immediately
relocate all the outstanding households who have not been relocated on irrigated land. In
addition, the company must increase the hectarage of arable land being given to the
displaced villagers so that they have enough land for livestock, crops, buildings,
equipment and recreation as before.
We also suggest that, for each affected household, there must be an honest and
thorough displacement impact assessment conducted so that the compensation and
resettlement is meaningful. Furthermore, some of the displaced households must be
accommodated as sugarcane out-grower farmers and producers of other products and
services to the ethanol project. Other social safety nets and facilities designed to accord
the displaced households sustainable means of livelihood must be developed and
provided. These should include feedstock schemes, general infrastructure provision,
schools and clinics.
It came to our notice that the villagers complained about lack of meaningful figures of
local people being employed by the ethanol-producing company. This could be coming
from the local people’s lack of technical knowledge. It is our recommendation that the
company engage the local people in in-service training programs as a way of equipping
local people with the necessary skills for their employability. This is the kind of advocacy
Complex moral dilemmas of large scale development projects 359
that one non-governmental organisation operating in the area, called Platform for Youth
Development (YPD), has been making.
There is great need for a common and rural people-centred political position and will
from state authorities. The kind of political aspersion we witnessed over the
establishment of the ethanol project jeopardised the lives of the local people in the area.
Above all, we propose an alternative approach to rural community development in
Africa called the Integrated and Sustainable Rural Development Strategy. This approach
has, according to Debertin (1993), the capacity to attain socially cohesive and stable rural
communities with viable institutions, sustainable economies and access to social
amenities. This strategy will also be able to attract and retain skilled and knowledgeable
local people, who are equipped to contribute to the growth and development of their local
11 Conclusion
In this paper we have argued that the ethics of development needs to be revisited in order
to make the best of development projects for local people. We have contended that
development ethics, as a discipline, means to represent the quest for a new strategic
approach to the establishment of sustainable development projects in African rural
countries. It also emerged that the orthodox claims by developers that they mean to uplift
community welfare through development projects no longer work. The paper has
maintained and advanced the position that development projects should be established to
benefit the local people without taking them away from their areas. We have also
questioned the morality of development projects when they become a platform for
political muscle-flexing between political parties. For instance, the Chisumbanje ethanol
project produced serious political interference to the extent that local people resisting
displacement without compensation were considered as ‘anti-progressive opposition
party members’ and were subjected to both emotional and physical violence. In light of
the foregoing, we call for the reconfiguration of development projects so that they do not
become a source of problems for the local people.
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Full-text available
this article, we explore some of the potential and problems associated with the migration of people back to rural communities. The movement of people back to rural areas now occurring in some communities might be greater if better job opportunities and better services were available in the rural communities.
1st Issued as Paperback Bibliogr. s. 267-275
PIP: Several nonvenereal treponematoses are or were present in Niger while syphilis has been reported in only the northern, arid zones (Bejel) of the country. While their presence is known in Niger, endemic nonvenereal treponematoses are no longer reported by the country¿s health centers. Results are presented from a serological study using randomized Treponema pallidum Hemagglutination Assay (TPHA) upon a sample of 183 children under age 5 years old living in three areas of Niamey. No clinical exam was performed before testing. In the overall sample, 12% of tests were positive, ranging from 8% to 17% depending upon the neighborhood studied. The differences observed were insignificant according to both place of residence and age. All age groups were affected, although only 3 seropositive cases were identified among the 37 children under age 12 months. The relative levels were too high to be dismissed as serological artifacts. The most likely explanation for the high levels of antitreponemic antibodies is endemic syphilis, which is increasing in the region. Endemic syphilis is re-emerging, while penicillin is being used less systematically. Moreover, economic problems constrain access to health care. Results in children under age 12 months suggest that congenital syphilis is uncommon.
International Development Ethics, A short online introduction at: http://www.bu
  • W Adger
Adger, W. (2009) International Development Ethics, A short online introduction at: (Accessed on 10 March, 2013).
My Right to Land in the Bible and in Zimbabwe: A Theology of Land in Zimbabwe
  • S Bakare
Bakare, S. (1993) My Right to Land in the Bible and in Zimbabwe: A Theology of Land in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Harare.
Ethics of Global Development: Agency, Capability and Deliberative Democracy
  • A Crocker
Crocker, A. (2008) Ethics of Global Development: Agency, Capability and Deliberative Democracy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Capabilities, Power and Institutions: Towards a More Critical Development Ethics
  • S Esquith
  • F Gifford
Esquith, S. and Gifford, F. (Eds.) (2009) Capabilities, Power and Institutions: Towards a More Critical Development Ethics, Pennsylvania State University Press, Pennsylvania.