African Development Bank accepts complaint about coal plant
A year ago, the Senegalese NGO Takkom Jerry filed a complaint with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Dutch Development Bank FMO, with support from Both ENDS. These banks finance the Sendou coal power station, right next to the fishing village of Bargny. The AfDB has now recognized the complaint. FMO is already processing the complaint and will publish an official response shortly.
Women drying fish, Bargny 2014
Residents of Bargny fear the social and environmental effects of the coal plant, which is still under construction. The cooling water will be discharged into the sea and disrupt the life of fish, which has consequences for local fishermen. In addition, the coal power station causes air pollution in the immediate vicinity. Women who now dry and package fish for export on and next to the terrain of the future power plant, will not be allowed to do so any longer. However, there has been no consultation with local stakeholders and compensation is not yet in sight.
This is not in compliance with the banks' own policies. Therefore, in May 2016, NGO Takkom Jerry submitted a complaint with the banks, with the help of Both ENDS, SOMO and Lumière Synergie pour le Développement (LSD).
AfDB: complaint accepted
A year later, the board of the AfDB finally recognized the complaint. This probably took so long because after receiving a complaint, the bank first carries out a preliminary investigation by independent experts. Only if the complaint appears to be justified, it is accepted by the board.
In the case of Sendou, the AfDB identified a number of issues which are against their own policies. This includes loss of income for the more than 1,000 women who live off the drying and packaging of fish, taking plots of land without compensation, the risk of water pollution and poor consultation of stakeholders.
The independent experts will now investigate further to check their preliminary conclusion and advise the bank on the measures to be taken.
Fisherman on the beach near Bargny, 2014
FMO: report almost finished
The Dutch FMO immediately accepted the complaint and sent a research delegation to Bargny. Their findings are likely to be published shortly. If it turns out that the Sendou project is not in compliance with the bank's own rules, the research panel will advise the bank to take steps to change that. Both ENDS will ensure that the FMO keeps to its own policies and promises.
According to its current investment policy, FMO doesn't fund coal-fired power plants any more, but that policy was not yet in place when the Sendou project was launched. According to Both ENDS, however, this could be an additional motivation for FMO to withdraw from the coal power station in response to the complaints.
In Senegal, the acceptance of the complaint by the AFDB has been welcomed. Takkom Jerry and LSD will now organize meetings with the local stakeholders with support from Both ENDS, to inform them how the complaint procedure will continue, and develop a follow-up strategy to continue their fight against the coal-fired power station.
In this video of 2 years ago, Bargny residents show why they are opposing the construction of the Sendou coal power station:
The case received some online media attention:
• Mining Weekly, 21 april 2017: AfDB to review development of Senegalese power plant after complaints
• Africa Feeds, 21 april 2017: AfDB Authorizes Probe Into Sendou Coal Fired Power Plant
Also read our previous articles about the complaint mechanism of FMO and AfDB:
• 14 February 2014: Filing a complaint with the FMO
• 16 september 2014: African NGOs want better complaints mechanism at the African Development Bank
For more information
Read more about this subject
Development banks should comply with strict environmental and human rights rules to ensure that their projects benefit and do not harm the poorest groups. Both ENDS monitors the banks to make sure they do.
Video / 18 March 2015
Senegal is one of the countries with the highest amount of effective sunshine on earth. Instead of using the 3000 hours of sunshine a year as a source of energy, 2 new coal fired power plants are now being built with the help of the Dutch development bank FMO, using public money. This video shows the consequences for the local population.
News / 4 October 2017
On September 20th FMO published its new position statements on human rights, land governance and gender. We appreciate that FMO takes human rights serious and applaud the efforts that have been made to come to an improved position on human rights, land and gender. However, to truly have a positive impact on people and the environment, some important follow up steps are necessary.
News / 17 May 2018
Today, three representatives of the Honduran indigenous people's organisation COPINH, together with the family of environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in March 2016, announced that they are preparing to press charges against the Dutch development bank FMO. COPINH accuses the FMO of complicity in human rights violations in connection with the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.
Publication / 11 February 2016
News / 1 December 2018
On Thursday, November 29, seven suspects of the murder of Berta Cáceres (in March 2016) were found guilty. Members of the indigenous human rights organisation COPINH, of which Cáceres was the leader, and close relatives of Cáceres herself see the ruling as the first step towards justice for her murder and the recognition that the company DESA is co-responsible for this. They also point out, however, that the process was permeated with corruption, intimidation and other abuses from the very beginning, and that the masterminds behind the murder are still walking around freely.
Publication / 10 December 2018
News / 23 May 2018
This week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) holds its 2018 Annual Meetings. A large group of African civil society organisations calls on the bank to ensure social and environmental protection, to involve civil society, to pay attention to gender issues and to make sustainable choices in their energy access ambitions.
Indigenous Hondurans are resisting the construction of the Agua Zarca hydrodam. Their fight has cost several lives, including that of Berta Cáceres. After considerable public pressure, Dutch development bank FMO withdrew from the project.
The Barro Blanco dam project in Panama, which has Dutch financial support, is causing indigenous lands to disappear under water. Both ENDS is working to protect the rights of indigenous communities living near the dam.
News / 10 November 2020
The Dutch development bank FMO has published a statement about fossil fuels to take steps in climate action. Both ENDS and partners are pleased that FMO is finally taking a stand regarding fossil fuels, but in our opinion it could be more ambitious. In order to really contribute to sustainability and equality, it is essential that development banks stop investing in harmful fossil projects.
External link / 31 May 2018
Sometimes things must go terribly wrong before big players start to move. In March 2016, Honduran activist Berta Cáceres was murdered because of her leading role in the protests against the Agua Zarca hydro dam, co-financed by the Dutch FMO. One and a half year later, FMO changed their policies to prevent such events in the future.
News / 18 November 2019
Good news for the climate: last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021. This is part of its new energy strategy.
News / 30 July 2019
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has published its new policy for energy investments. In the new draft policy, the bank states to stop investing in fossil fuel related projects from 2020. This is good news for the climate, so Both ENDS and partners are happy with this draft policy. The shareholders of the bank, the member states of the European Union, still have to approve it.
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.
Blog / 12 July 2019
and Stijn Deklerck of Amnesty International Nederland
On 12 and 13 July, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) will be holding its annual meeting in Luxembourg. This is the fourth annual meeting of the AIIB which was set up on the initiative of China. As a shareholder, the Netherlands will be attending the meeting.
External link / 10 December 2018
An Open Letter to States and Development Financiers on the need to ensure that development interventions support the realization of human rights, safeguard human rights defenders and guarantee meaningful public participation
Publication / 30 June 2017
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
Blog / 13 November 2018
Last weekend there was an article in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant about the Lake Turkana Wind Power Project in Kenya. I was surprised and angry about how the story was presented. How can people be so blind to the perspectives of others? And how can a progressive paper like De Volkskrant devote so much space to such an unnuanced account? This is exactly why such projects lead to conflicts.