Joseph Kilimo Chebet, a father of five, standing next to the burned remains of his homestead in Kenya, destroyed only hours prior by Kenya Forest Service officers. This was the result of a "project" funded by the World Bank.
(Photo: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)
ACROSS THE GLOBE, THE WORLD BANK INSERTS ITSELF INTO THIRD-WORLD NATIONS AT AN EVER-INCREASING AND ALARMING RATE.
THE GOVERNMENTS OF MANY NATIONS "BORROW" MONEY UNDER LESS THAN HONEST PRETENSES AND THEN IGNORE THE NEEDS AND CONCERNS OF THEIR OWN CITIZENS AS THEY TAKE THE CHEAPEST WAY TO DO THE THINGS THEY CLAIMED TO HAVE BORROWED THE MONEY FOR.
THE WORLD BANK KNOWS THIS AND SIMPLY DOES NOT CARE.
NO MATTER WHERE IT "FUNDS" PROJECTS, HOMES AND LIVES ARE LEFT IN RUIN AND, USUALLY, WHEN INDIGENOUS CULTURES ARE IN THE WAY OF "PROGRESS", OF "PROJECTS" FUNDED BY THE WORLD BANK, THEIR WAYS OF LIFE ARE DEVASTATED ONCE THE WORLD BANK ENTERS IN.
EVICTED, ABANDONED, LIVES DESTROYED
"A joint report published in April, 2015 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and several other outlets, found that a slew of World Bank-funded projects—including dams and power plants—have pushed 3.4 million people out of their homes or off their lands around the world since 2004.
The U.S. and other global powers launched the World Bank at the end of World War II to promote development in countries torn by war and poverty. Member countries finance the bank and vote on whether to approve roughly $65 billion in annual loans, grants and other investments.
The bank is now in the middle of a rewrite of its safeguards policy that will set its course for decades to come.
SOME OF THEIR OWN OFFICIALS ARE "BLOWING THE WHISTLE"
Some current and former World Bank officials warn that the proposed revisions will further undermine the bank’s commitment to protecting the people it was created to serve.
“I am saddened to see now that pioneering policy achievements of the bank are being dismantled and downgraded,” said Michael Cernea, a former high-ranking bank official who oversaw the bank resettlement protections for nearly two decades. “The poorest and most powerless will pay the price.”
WORLD BANK VIOLATES ITS OWN 'POLICIES'
ICIJ reviewed more than 6,000 World Bank documents and interviewed former and current employees and government officials who were involved in Bank-funded projects and found that in many cases, the World Bank violated its own internal policies and ignored evictions caused by its projects. The organization also did little to ensure the safety or livelihood of those who were resettled, in many cases not providing them with new housing or job prospects, as required.
OBTAINING LOANS UNDER FALSE PRETENSES
"There was often no intent on the part of the governments to comply—and there was often no intent on the part of the bank's management to enforce," said Navin Rai, a former World Bank official who was responsible for the organization's protection of Indigenous people from 2000 to 2012. "That was how the game was played."
Between 2009 and 2013, World Bank Group lenders invested $50 billion in projects—like oil pipelines, mines, and dams—that were most likely to have "irreversible or unprecedented" social or climate impacts, such as physical or economic displacements, which have been shown to "rip apart kinship networks and increase risks of illness and disease," according to the report.
MAN-MADE DISASTER IN BRAZIL, COMPLIMENTS OF THE WORLD BANK
Rising waters upstream from the Sobradinho Dam, built in the 1970s with World Bank financing, forced more than 60,000 people from their homes. Their relocation was poorly planned and chaotic. Some families fled their villages as water began pouring into their homes and fields, leaving behind herds of animals to drown.
The fiasco gave Cernea, the World Bank’s first in-house sociologist, leverage to convince the bank to approve its first comprehensive policy for protecting people whose lives are upended by the bank’s projects. Cernea based the new rules, approved by the bank in 1980, on a simple premise: People who lose their land, their homes or their jobs should get enough help to restore, or exceed, their old standard of living.
Under the World Bank’s rules, governments seeking money from the bank must put together detailed resettlement plans for people who are physically or economically displaced.
Current and former bank employees say the work of enforcing these standards has often been undercut by internal pressures to win approval for big, splashy projects. Many bank managers, insiders say, define success by the number of deals they fund. They often push back against requirements that add complications and costs.
But amid the push to get projects done, they’re frequently ignored and pressed to “play ball and get along,” Daniel Gross, an anthropologist who worked for the bank for two decades said.
“Safeguards are irrelevant for managers,” said one staffer who was surveyed for the report.
A 2014 internal World Bank review found that in 60 percent of sampled cases, bank staffers failed to document what happened to people after they were forced from their land or homes.
Seventy percent of the cases sampled in the 2014 report lacked required information about whether anyone had complained and whether complaints were resolved, indicating the bank’s mechanisms for dealing with grievances were “box-checking” exercises that “existed on paper but not in practice,” the in-house reviewers wrote.
These “sizeable gaps in information” indicate “significant potential failures in the bank’s system for dealing with resettlement.”
[Since, year after year, the World Bank has been called on the carpet for shirking its responsibilities and continues its failure to follow-up on how its loans are used and what happens in the nations it loans money to, may we not assume the World Bank simply does not give a damn, that it is willfully complicit in the methods used that violate human rights and cause death and destruction?]
The World Bank and IFC have also been boosting support for mega-projects, such as oil pipelines and dams, that the lenders acknowledge are most likely to cause “irreversible” social or environmental harm, an analysis by HuffPost and ICIJ found.
A big project can upend the lives of tens of thousands of people.
Since 2004, World Bank estimates indicate that at least a dozen bank-supported projects physically or economically displaced more than 50,000 people each.
Moreover, the World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., sometimes bankrolled regimes and companies that were accused of human rights violations including rape, murder, and torture, the report found.
In some cases, the lenders continued to finance the operations even AFTER evidence of such abuses emerged.
"Resettled populations are more likely to suffer unemployment and hunger, and mortality rates are higher," the report clearly states.
In Ethiopia, government authorities there diverted millions of dollars from a World Bank project to fund forced resettlements, evictions ensued, and in 2011, soldiers who were responsible for carrying out the evictions killed at least seven people and targeted villagers for beatings and rape, according to the report.
In Nigeria, a Bank-funded project to improve water supplies, roads, and power in Lagos resulted in the eviction of nearly 2,000 in Badia East, the report found.
After Badia East residents sounded the alarm to the inspection panel, chairwoman Eimi Watanabe refused to open an investigation, instead urging them to negotiate with the Lagos state government, which gave out small sums of money as compensation.
The panel then reportedly closed the case because of "the progress made and speedy provision of compensation to displaced people."
Through its projects in those countries, as well as in Albania, Brazil, Honduras, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Peru, Serbia, South Sudan, and Uganda, the World Bank "FAILED to protect people moved aside in the name of progress," the report found.
"In these countries and others, the investigation found, the bank's lapses have hurt urban slum dwellers, hardscrabble farmers, impoverished fisherfolk, forest dwellers and indigenous groups—leaving them to fight for their homes, their land and their ways of life, sometimes in the face of intimidation and violence," the report reads.
ICIJ's report comes as the World Bank is increasing its call for projects that require forced resettlements.
On Friday, the bank will begin its yearly Spring Meetings with the International Monetary Fund, where new policies will be considered. Some of the organization's officials have expressed doubt over what the bank has called its "strongest, most state-of-the-art environmental and social safeguards," but which critics say give foreign governments room to avoid complying with the bank's standards.
Ahead of the meetings, a coalition of more than 260 global NGOs, farmer groups, and trade unions is publicly posing three questions to the bank about its role in the land grabs, as well as "climate destruction and the corporatization of agriculture."
Those questions include:
1~ Why have you not spoken to farmers before promoting massive agriculture-reform programs?
2~ Why are you rewarding countries that cede their power and wealth to foreign corporations, while punishing those who spend on the health and well-being of their populations?
3~ Why are you prioritizing farming models that destroy the environment and impoverish people, over those that work in harmony with the environment and are already feeding the world?
Among the signatories are Human Rights Watch, Oxfam International, and the Africa Law Foundation, as well as Raquel Rolnik, former United Nations Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing.
The report's findings are "deeply troubling," the letter reads. "While it is important that the review of Bank-financed projects was undertaken and finally published, the lack of transparency demonstrated by the Bank in concealing the Review's findings—for three years in the case of part one and nine months in the case of part two—is unacceptable for a public institution."
BRIEF HOPE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE, BUT HOPES DASHED
In July 2012, an unconventional leader took over as the World Bank’s new president. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-American physician known for his work fighting AIDS in Africa, became the first World Bank president whose background wasn’t in finance or politics.
Two decades before, Kim had joined protests in Washington, D.C., calling for the World Bank to be shut down altogether for valuing indicators like economic growth over assistance to poor people.
Human rights advocates and bank staffers working on safeguards hoped that Kim’s appointment would signal a shift toward greater protections for people affected by World Bank projects.
In March, Kim said he was concerned about “major problems” in the bank’s oversight of its resettlement policies. He announced an action plan calling for greater independence for the bank’s safeguards watchdogs and a 15 percent funding boost for safeguards enforcement.
But while Kim and other bank officials have acknowledged general shortcomings, they have consistently denied that the bank shares blame for violent or wrongful evictions carried out by its borrowers. "
[Even the damnable United Nations' 'human rights officials' have written World Bank President Kim to say they’re concerned that the growing ability of borrowers to access other financing, such as China is now offering, has spurred the bank to join a “race to the bottom” and push its standards for protecting people even lower.]
THE WORLD BANK OFTEN DEMANDS WATER RIGHTS FOR LOANS.
THE TEA ROOM HAS WRITTEN MUCH ON THE TENDENCY OF THE U.N. AND THE WORLD BANK AND OTHERS TO GRAB NATURAL RESOURCES, ESPECIALLY WATER RIGHTS, FROM THIRD-WORLD NATIONS AND ABOUT THE GLOBAL BANKING CARTEL TO GREEDILY DEVOUR ANYTHING WITHIN POORER NATIONS THAT CAN BE CONVERTED TO CASH, TO PROFITS, BUT THE WORD IS OUT NOW.
THE DOCUMENTARY FILM "BLUE GOLD" DID MUCH TO SHINE A LIGHT ON THIS EVIL PRACTICE.
MANY ARE POINTING TO THESE GRABS AND MAKING IT A LITTLE TOUGHER FOR SUCH THINGS TO GO UNNOTICED.
World Bank and ADB's Role in Privatizing Water (PDF)
The Water Privateers - Third World Traveler
HOW THE WORLD BANK IS FINANCING ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION.
"On Sept. 8, 2013, Elvira Flores, a teenage shepherd in the northern Andean highlands, drove her flock across a dirt road that crosses her family’s rocky green fields and down to a stream.
After the sheep drank their fill, something went wrong.
“White foam came out of their mouths and noses.”
One by one, all 18 sheep fell to the ground and died. Flores watched, helpless.
“It was all over in five minutes,” she said.
For two decades, people who eke out a living in La Pajuela and neighboring communities in this region of stunning natural beauty and grinding poverty have traded stories like this one. Trout and frogs have disappeared from the waterways, the farmers say. Sometimes, locals say, their livestock refuse to drink from streams that irrigate their land — or they drink the water and then get sick or die.
To the peasant farmers, the campesinos, the cause of the contamination is evident.
The hills contain flecks of gold ore, one of the rarest minerals on Earth. And for 22 years, the American company Newmont Mining Corp., with financing from the business-lending arm of the World Bank, has blasted apart hills and used toxic chemicals to get it out.
Yanacocha, like most modern gold mines, uses a process called cyanide-heap leaching to extract tiny bits of ore from rock.
Mining engineers begin by blasting apart hills and other formations, creating deep pits.
Each truckload that leaves the pit contains roughly 180 tons of rock and dirt — and about 8.5 ounces of gold.
Nitrates from explosives used in blasting wash into streams.
Mercury that spilled off a truck 15 years ago sickened hundreds of residents of three nearby towns. Studies have shown that heavy metals from the mine have leaked out, in a place where many people already don’t have access to clean water. Local farmers are keenly worried about their own health, and that of their families.
“If our animals are dying as a result of contaminated water, what about us?” asked Felipe Flores, Elvira’s uncle.
The World Bank Group finances economic development projects in poor, often unstable countries.
But a review of the banking group’s investments by The Huffington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that instead of avoiding the sorts of high-risk projects where harm is a likely outcome, gold mines like Yanacocha are the kind of investment the World Bank Group increasingly favors: large, destructive and fraught with risk — to the environment as well as to people who live on or near land slated for development.
World Bank lenders grade projects based on their perceived social and environmental threat. Though both the World Bank and IFC have come under fire for downplaying such risks — critics include the U.S. Treasury Department.
From 2009 to 2013, the two lenders pumped $50 billion into 239 of these high-risk “Category A” projects, including dams, copper mines and oil pipelines — more than twice as much as the previous five-year span, records show. Much of the development is in countries like Peru, where federal governments are weak and regulations are lax.
“Putting a high-risk strategy in place in these environments is like throwing matches into a tinderbox,” said Natalie Fields, the executive director of the Accountability Counsel, a legal group that represents native people in disputes with the World Bank and IFC. “They are guaranteed to lead to abuses or even fail.”
Environmental damage often takes longer to emerge than abuses directly inflicted on local populations. But the human consequences can be just as dire.
In an emailed statement, the bank said mining provides “the best path out of poverty” for many of the world’s poorest countries.
But in villages and hamlets near the mine, the prevailing opinion is that foreign companies and banks, and the far-off government in Lima, are profiting from the mine, while local people are left to deal with the environmental and social wreckage.
Yanacocha and its parent, Newmont, now want to dig up four nearby mountain lakes and develop Conga, a $4.8 billion copper and gold mine. Like Yanacocha, Conga is on high ground: at the head of a watershed that irrigates hundreds of square miles of farmland and supplies drinking water to nearby villages and hamlets.
Police killed five people protesting the Conga expansion in 2012. A public opinion poll the same year found that four out of five residents of Cajamarca opposed the new mine.
In February, private security working for the mine clashed with the family of Máxima Acuña, a diminutive peasant farmer who claims she has suffered police beatings and years of intimidation in her fight to remain on land wanted for the new mine. The security forces tore apart the foundation of a new house her family was building near the Conga lakes, on land Yanacocha claims it indisputably owns.
“The gold they take out of our region is stained with blood,” said Milton Sánchez, a leader of the protest movement. “Foreigners wear it on their ears, neck and fingers to look good, but their vanity is at the expense of our suffering. We’ve seen destruction of the culture and environment. Our families are being torn apart.”
In November 2011, police officers moonlighting on Yanacocha’s payroll fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition into a crowd of farmers who had set up a protest camp near Conga, the mine the company hopes to develop with IFC support.
Elmer Campos felt the bullet punch into his back when he bent over to help a friend who had been shot. He lost a kidney and his spleen, and suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Campos now spends his days in a rusty wheelchair in a tiny room. His wife toils on the family’s diminished farm, parcelled and sold off to pay for his medical treatments. The pain, he said, never goes away.
The summer after Campos was shot, national police fired into another crowd of protesters and killed five people, including a 16-year-old boy.
The shootings made international news, and in Peru they were greeted with widespread condemnation.
Yanacocha’s executives still want to build a new mine. The existing pits are running out of gold. Remaining reserves are expected to last about five more years, the company says.
Toxicology experts told HuffPost that the episode described by Flores could be the result of an accidental spill of a toxin, such as cyanide, into a waterway. They said that such spills may leave little evidence, and unless testing was done in the immediate aftermath, the poison could have simply washed away with time.
Questions about water contamination, meanwhile, remain unresolved.
In 2014, food safety experts from the University of Barcelona found elevated levels of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals in the food and water in communities near Yanacocha — with the highest counts near La Pajuela. The metals are associated with higher rates of cancer and kidney failure, as well as cardiovascular diseases. “It is reasonable to advise the people of La Pajuela not to drink from their water sources,” the report concluded.
In December, officials from Peru’s environmental ministry issued a report indicating that tainted water had seeped out of the mine into the community of San Jose, near La Pajeula. Yanacocha disputed those findings, too. "
AND AGAIN, THE WORLD BANK SIMPLY DOES NOT CARE ENOUGH TO MAKE CERTAIN THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF HUMAN POPULATIONS ARE ATTENDED TO.
IT'S PROFIT OVER LIVES, AS ALWAYS.
IN ADDITION TO ALL OF THE ABOVE, THIS ONE ENTITY, THIS ONE "FINANCIER", HAS DONE MORE TO DESTROY SANE, TRADITIONAL FARMING PRACTICES AND CREATE GLOBAL FOOD CRISES THAN EVEN 'MOTHER NATURE' COULD DO AT HER WORST.
There is a battle raging over the future of farming on this planet, and the front line, this week, is at the Spring Meetings of the World Bank in Washington, DC.
There are two visions. They are often portrayed as being about differences in technical approaches but are, in truth, far more fundamental. This is a battle over nothing less than the structure of global power and the sustainability of life on this planet.
In one corner are the World Bank and its financial backers, primarily rich country governments, multinational agriculture corporations and large private foundations. Their vision is one in which farming is seen, first and foremost, as a mega-industry, primarily concerned with efficiency, output and profitability.
In the other corner are a group of 260 NGOs, think tanks, smallholder farmer’s groups, environmental organizations and trade unions.
Our collective vision is one in which power is not centralized in corporate boardrooms and the offices of global institutions but held by farmers themselves.
Our case is built on the fact that the real problem isn’t that we are, or will be, short of food in any aggregate sense, but that it is poorly distributed because of deep imbalances of power.
Throwing vast amounts of money at large corporate models, and telling governments to put in place rules that focus solely on bolstering the ability of large institutions to grab huge tracts of land for industrial, often mono-culture farms, only deepens those power imbalances.
It also does incredible harm to the health of the soil and the wider environment.
Far better to invest that money in smallholder farmers and regenerative farming methods that are perfectly capable of feeding a growing population; can do so in ways that can help reverse the pattern of pollution by the agricultural industry (the world’s largest single source of greenhouse gasses); and help foster a more equitable distribution of power in an increasingly unequal world."
I COULD CITE HUNDREDS OF ARTICLES THAT SHOW THE UNFEELING NATURE OF THE WORLD BANK, ITS PROFIT-DRIVEN DISREGARD FOR HUMAN BEINGS, BUT THAT WON'T STOP THEM.
WHAT MIGHT HELP IS FOR CITIZENS OF ALL NATIONS TO DEMAND AN ACCOUNTING, TO DEMAND A FULL INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO EACH AND EVERY "PROJECT" FUNDED BY THE WORLD BANK.
PERHAPS, JUST PERHAPS, ONCE ITS OBVIOUS PROFITEERING AND COMPLICITY IN THE VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS WERE UNCOVERED, IT WOULD FIND IT, AT LEAST, HARDER TO GO INTO NATIONS AND RUIN LIVES.
PERHAPS THE CORRUPT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WHO USE THE WORLD BANK FUNDING TO CAUSE SUCH SUFFERING OF THEIR OWN PEOPLE WOULD ALSO THINK TWICE BEFORE APPLYING FOR SUCH FUNDS...IF THEY KNEW THEY, TOO, WOULD HAVE TO GIVE AN ACCOUNTING.
SOMEHOW, SOME WAY, SOMEONE HAS TO DECIDE THAT HUMAN IVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAT PROFITS.