News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

World Bank has been funding African government actions forcing indigenous people off their lands in the name of "climate change" or "carbon offsets" projects. In Ethiopia land is then sold to investors-UK Guardian, icij

9/29/14, "World Bank accuses itself of failing to protect Kenya forest dwellers," UK Guardian, John Vidal

"A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation

Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.

The result has been that more than 1,000 people living near the town of Eldoret have been classed as squatters and forced to flee what they say has been government harassment, intimidation and arrest.

The evictions were condemned in February by the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, and drew in the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, who expressed alarm at what was described by 360 national and international civil society organisations and individuals as “cultural genocide”. An Avaaz petition collected 950,000 names calling for the bank to urgently halt the “illegal” evictions.

Following a request by the Sengwer to assess the impact of the bank’s funding of the project, the bank’s inspection panel decided in May that it had violated safeguards in several areas. At the same time, the bank’s management decided to ignore most of the independent panel’s recommendations.

“Unfortunately, the World Bank’s own leaked management response to the report denies many of the findings, evidently sees little importance in the fact that violation of safeguard policies has occurred, and presents an inadequate action plan to be considered by the bank’s board. It simply proposes more training for forest service staff, and a meeting to examine what can be learnt,” said a spokesman for the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme.

“President Kim said the bank would not be bystanders, but only by taking seriously the many breaches of its own safeguards and approving the action plan requested by the Sengwer people themselves to overcome the human rights violations that these breaches have contributed to will the bank be able to demonstrate that the president has been true to his word,” said Peter Kitelo, a representative of Kenya’s Forest Indigenous Peoples Network.

A final decision on the project will be made on Tuesday when the World Bank board meets in Washington under the chairmanship of Kim to decide on the bank’s response to the inspection panel report. If the board decides to endorse the action plan, the evictions are certain to be completed. More than half the people evicted are thought to have returned to their lands.

“The eviction of such ancestral communities leaves the indigenous forests open to exploitation and destruction; whereas securing such communities rights to their lands and responsibility to continue traditional conservation practices, protects their forests,” said the Forest Peoples Programme."

Image: "Families from the Sengwer community leave their homes in Embobut, Kenya. Photograph: Forest Peoples Programme"


Taxpayer dollars from "rich countries" to pay for alleged climate injustice often become the property of the World Bank thus ensuring the world's poorest will become even poorer.  No protests mentioning "World Bank" were allowed inside 2010 UN Cancun Climate conference:

12/8/2010, "March to keep World Bank out of climate finance," Climate Justice 

Dec. 2010 UN Cancun Climate conf.
"Cancun: Anger grows at World Bank role in climate finance"

"As talks on long term climate finance for developing countries heat up today in Cancun, campaigners from around the world condemned rich countries’ efforts to carve out a special role for the World Bank in managing these funds.

Campaigners are furious that the World Bank is being promoted as the hub for climate finance. They insist that because the institution continues to bankroll dirty fossil fuel projects to the tune of $6.6 billion last year alone – they are in the wrong hands for the funds to fight climate change. They also cite the Bank’s recent history of imposing climate finance as loans, creating new debt for already impoverished countries, increasing the role of the private sector and imposing economic policy conditions that increase inequality.

The coalition of diverse groups from developed and developing countries launched a new campaign ‘World Bank our of climate finance’ today calling on governments to resist any role for the institution in climate finance. They are particularly angry that in an early draft of the negotiating text, the World Bank has been invited to serve as the interim trustee of a new global climate fund – and potentially its secretariat.

In response, 200 organisations from around the world, including Jubilee South, Friends of the Earth International and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance have signed an open letter to governments at the Cancun negotiations stating that the nature, structure, track record, and policies of the World Bank and other development banks contradict what should be the principles of fair and effective climate finance.

Ian Rivera, from Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines said:

“It’s outrageous that the World Bank is being forced on to developing countries. Peoples of developing countries do not want to work with the World Bank in order to access much needed climate finance. Based on bitter experience, they know that the World Bank will increase their debts and poverty and will undermine their human rights and their independence. That’s why we have launched a new campaign to stop the World Bank being imposed on developing countries who need climate finance to cope with climate change.”

Campaigners are also angry that they are not being allowed to campaign against the World Bank inside the UN talks. They have been told that permission will not be granted for any protest that mentions the World Bank, so they are being forced to march and protest away from the conference centre.

Muhammad Reza, from KRUHA (People’s Coalition for the Right to Water)-Indonesia said: “We are not allowed to even whisper the World Bank’s name in a negative context within the UN. This is silencing civil society in a space where civil society’s voice must be heard and must be listened to.”
The UK government is believed to be playing a key role in pushing for the World Bank to take the role of climate finance manager, and provides over 80 per cent of its climate finance through the World Bank, with 60 per cent as loans to developing countries.

Kirsty Wright, from the World Development Movement said: “Donor countries, in particular the UK, are unfairly pushing for climate finance to be channelled as loans through the World Bank. Rich countries are undemocratically imposing the World Bank into these talks. The current negotiating text goes further than the Copenhagen Accord, by specifically inviting the World Bank to become the manager of climate finance. The World Bank cannot be trusted with climate finance given that it is a leader in investing in fossil fuel projects, like coal power stations. It’s absolutely disgraceful, and we will resist this strongly together with our allies from around the world.”"

Image above from Climate Justice Network, 12/8/2010

- For more information:

"World Bank manages 12 carbon funds through its Carbon Financing Unit, with an approximate value of US$ 2.5 billion. So far these have mainly involved projects in countries such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia."


Genocide is now defined as "violating rules:"

1/20/15, "Leaked report says World Bank violated own rules in Ethiopia," Sasha Chavkin,

"Internal watchdog finds link between World Bank financing and Ethiopian government's mass resettlement of indigenous group."

"The World Bank repeatedly violated its own rules while funding a development initiative in Ethiopia that has been dogged by complaints that it sponsored forced evictions of thousands of indigenous people, according to a leaked report by a watchdog panel at the bank.

The report, which was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, examines a health and education initiative that was buoyed by nearly $2 billion in World Bank funding over the last decade. Members of the indigenous Anuak people in Ethiopia’s Gambella province charged that Ethiopian authorities used some of the bank’s money to support a massive forced relocation program and that soldiers beat, raped and killed Anuak who refused to abandon their homes. The bank continued funding the health and education initiative for years after the allegations emerged.

The report by the World Bank’s internal Inspection Panel found that there was an “operational link” between the World Bank-funded program and the Ethiopian government’s relocation push, which was known as “villagization.” By failing to acknowledge this link and take action to protect affected communities, the bank violated its own policies on project appraisal, risk assessment, financial analysis and protection of indigenous peoples, the panel’s report concludes.

“The bank has enabled the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands,” said David Pred, director of Inclusive Development International, a nonprofit that filed the complaint on behalf of 26 Anuak refugees.

The bank declined to answer ICIJ’s questions about the report.

“As is standard procedure, World Bank staff cannot comment on the results of the Inspection Panel’s investigation until the Executive Board of the World Bank Group has had the opportunity to review the Panel’s report over the coming weeks,” Phil Hay, the bank’s spokesman for Africa, said in a written response.

In previous responses to the complaint, bank management said there was no evidence of widespread abuses or evictions and that the Anuak “have not been, nor will they be, directly and adversely affected by a failure of the Bank to implement its policies and procedures.” 

Because the panel’s report has not yet been published, some of the language may be revised before a final version is released, but its basic conclusions are not expected to change.

The report stops short of finding the bank responsible for the most serious abuses. The panel did not attempt to verify the widely reported allegations of forced evictions and human rights violations, finding that the question was beyond the scope of its investigation. The bank did not violate its policy on forced resettlement, the report says, because the relocations were conducted by the Ethiopian government and were not a “necessary” part of the health and education program.

Since 2006, the World Bank and other foreign donors have bankrolled the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) program, which provides grants to local and regional governments for services such as health, education and clean water. The PBS program was designed to avoid funneling aid dollars directly to Ethiopia’s federal government, which had violently cracked down on its opposition after disputed 2005 elections.

By 2010, federal and provincial authorities had embarked on an effort to relocate nearly 2 million poor people in four provinces from isolated rural homes to village sites selected by the government. In these new villages, authorities promised to provide the relocated communities with health care, education and other basic services they had lacked. 

The government relocated 37,883 households in Gambella, roughly 60 percent of all households in the province, according to Ethiopian government statistics cited by the Inspection Panel. The Ethiopian government has said that all resettlements were voluntary.

Many members of the Anuak, a mostly Christian indigenous group in Gambella, have said they didn’t want to move. Anuak and their advocates say that they were pushed off their fertile lands by soldiers and policemen, and that much of the abandoned land was then leased by the government to investors. 

The evictions were “accompanied by widespread human rights violations, including forced displacement, arbitrary arrest and detention, beatings, rape, and other sexual violence,” according to a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch.

The Human Rights Watch report and Anuak refugees’ complaint to the Inspection Panel contended that the bank’s money was being used by local and regional authorities to support forced relocations. For example, they say, money from the PBS initiative was used to pay the salaries of government officials who helped carry out the evictions.

The bank continued to fund the PBS program throughout the villagization campaign. The bank approved new funding for PBS in 2011 and 2012, and its support for the program continues today. Since the nationwide health and education initiative launched, Ethiopia has reported strides in reducing child mortality and increasing primary school enrollment.

The villagization campaign ended in 2013, and is believed to have resettled substantially fewer than the nearly 2 million people anticipated by the government.

The Ethiopia case is one of several recent World Bank-financed projects that have drawn fire from activist groups for allegedly funding human rights violations. These projects include a loan to a palm oil producer in Honduras whose security guards have been accused by human rights advocates of killing dozens of peasants involved in a land rights dispute with the company, and a conservation program by the Kenyan government that members of the Sengwer people say was used as tool for pushing them out of their ancestral forests.

In the Ethiopia case, the Inspection Panel decided that the most severe allegations of forced evictions and violence were beyond its mandate, in part because bank rules limited its investigation to only the most recent funding installment of the PBS program.

During its investigation, the Inspection Panel asked Eisei Kurimoto, a professor at Osaka University in Japan and an expert on the Anuak people, to travel to Gambella and help review the Anuak’s complaint.

Kurimoto told ICIJ that Anuak he spoke with told him Ethiopian authorities used the threat of violence to force them to move.

Ethiopian officials who carried out the villagization program always went with armed policemen and soldiers,Kurimoto said. “It is very clear that the regional government thought that people would not move happily or willingly. So they had to show their power and the possibility of using force.”

Inclusive Development International’s Pred said it is now up to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to decide whether “justice will be served” for the Anuak. “Justice starts with the acceptance of responsibility for one’s faults – which the Inspection Panel found in abundance – and ends with the provision of meaningful redress,” he said." 


1/5/15, "The people pushed out of Ethiopia's fertile farmland," BBC

The construction of a huge dam in Ethiopia and the introduction of large-scale agricultural businesses has been controversial - finding out what local people think can be hard, but with the help of a bottle of rum nothing is impossible. After waiting several weeks for letters of permission from various Ethiopian ministries, I begin my road trip into the country's southern lowlands. 

I want to investigate the government's controversial plan to take over vast swathes of ancestral land, home to around 100,000 indigenous pastoralists, and turn it into a major centre for commercial agriculture, where foreign agribusinesses and government plantations would raise cash crops such as sugar and palm oil."...


No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.