Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Elizabeth Hagens


Coastal indigenous communities in Keta, Ghana, are experiencing resettlement as a result of slow-onset, climate-induced flooding and erosion. Previous researchers have documented the risk of relocation from rapid-onset events, but little is known about the effectiveness of policies developed in response to slow-onset changes. This phenomenological study investigated the ongoing lived experiences of adult household members in Keta who were relocated by the government. Jun's critical theory provided a constructionist interpretive framework to determine whether Ghana's national policy on climate change resettlement adequately meets Rawls's criteria for distributive social justice. Policy documents and transcriptions of interviews with a purposeful sample of 17 family members were thematically coded and categorized into essence descriptions. Results revealed aligned perceptions of an absence of justice or fairness in the allocation of resources to households relocated by the government. Negative experiences characterized all families' resettlement processes. The government's commitment to ensuring basic community welfare was perceived to be poor. Findings highlight the need for social justice to be the primary policy consideration for future allocation of benefits to resettled households. To avoid reaching a tipping point at which prompt governmental intervention will be either compelled or impossible, quantitative studies are needed to guide policymakers in considering the real costs of relocation and the cumulative effects on families and communities. This study provides evidence for public consideration of the severe consequences of injustice in relocation and the need to prevent human rights abuse in the formulation of social, economic, and cultural policies associated with climate-induced resettlement.