Working Paper
Displaced Communities and the Reconstruction of Livelihoods in Eritrea

Since large-scale programmes of post-war resettlement and reintegration are costly, it is important to learn the lessons of the resettlement programme started after the end of Eritrea's liberation war in 1991. Eritrea's system of land tenure largely facilitated resettlement (although long-term environmental problems may emerge), social capital built during the war was a positive resource, and the state's legitimacy was another positive factor despite the shortage of skills, and fragmented help from the donors. Those who self-settled generally did better than those who settled under government schemes: this implies that helping self-settlement is more cost-effective than direct government help-an important lesson for the future. The success of returnees in reconstructing their livelihoods depends upon the resumption of sustainable development activities in settlement areas. Assistance is most effective and equitable when provided on a community-wide basis, bringing benefits to the entire population of areas where returnees settle.