Development banks such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the German DEG and the Dutch FMO have some crucial similarities: they operate with public money, and their ultimate goal is to fight poverty and promote development. But in practice, 'development' seems to be a broad concept, as there are many people that do not profit from the projects these banks invest in. On the contrary, large groups of people are often faced with negative consequences of the investments of development banks. Under pressure from civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, a number of development banks set up a complaint desk for those that are adversely affected.
A highly critical report on the Bujagali Dam was recently released by the World Bank Inspection Panel - the independent investigation body of the World Bank. The controversial Bujagali Dam, a US$860 million hydropower dam under construction in Uganda, is co-financed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Unfortunately the report of the Inspection Panel has done little to change the commitment of the World Bank in funding the dam. Nor will it implement any fundamental changes in response to the indicated problems.
Large-scale infrastructural projects have detrimental effects on local people and the environment, while their benefits are felt elsewhere. Both ENDS is working to ensure that local people have a greater say in decision-making and is investigating the way these projects are funded.
Currently, on the initiative of China, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is being set up. As the ‘Chinese alternative to the World Bank’, AIIB will focus on financing large-scale infrastructure projects in Asia. The bank promises to be ‘lean, clean and green’, or in other words: non-bureaucratic, non-corrupt and environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, civil society organisations fear there will be disastrous consequences for local populations and the environment, considering China’s poor track record in these areas. In a letter to AIIB and in a press release, our partner 'NGO Forum on ADB' calls on the bank to develop strong safeguards.
Together with civil society organisations from all over the world, the Fair Green and Global (FGG) Alliance aims for socially just, inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies in the Netherlands and the Global South.
The African Development Bank (AfDB), which was founded in 1964 to stimulate economic development in Africa, has had a complaints mechanism since 2006. Individuals who have somehow been affected by projects financed by the AfDB can make an appeal to this mechanism. Yet, according to a large number of African and international organisations, this system has its weaknesses and there is much to improve. How exactly? Well, the organisations have recently presented their recommendations to the AfDB. Anouk Franck of Both ENDS coordinated this process.
'Water for development' was the topic of the annual World Water Week (WWW), which was held last week in Stockholm for the 25th time. Thirza Bronner, Sanderijn van Beek and Cindy Coltman of Both ENDS were present, together with partners Serah Munguti of ‘Nature Kenya’ in Kenya, and Suu Lam from the ‘Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD)’ in Vietnam. In light of this year’s theme, Both ENDS decided to invite these two outspoken women leaders to this conference to bring strong civil society voices to the table. They took part in a roundtable session that was marked by enthusiastic participation of policy makers, donors and NGOs. During the session, Munguti and Lam told us about their organisational objectives, their experiences and how ‘water for development’ translates into their practice.
The European Bank voor Reconstruction and Development wants to provide $40 million to a Kuwaiti company that is going to start doing oil drilling in Egypt. Huub Scheele from Both ENDS together with Egyptian NGOs urges the EBRD to postpone the decision, as the money is not going to contribute to any positive changes for the Egyptian people.