Complaint to development banks about the Nachtigal dam in Cameroon
Both ENDS partner IFI Synergy has filed a complaint to the World Bank on behalf of local inhabitants about the Nachtigal dam in Cameroon. The dam is causing considerable problems for local communities and local people feel that the compensation they receive is inadequate. They also feel that they were insufficiently informed and consulted before construction of the dam started.
The Nachtigal dam, the biggest in central Africa, is being built in the Sanaga, Cameroon's largest river. The project is being funded by loans from international financial institutions like the World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO. Construction began in 2018 and will be completed in 2023.
Energy from hydroelectric power: not clean and not fair
Although hydroelectric power is cleaner than fossil energy, large dams often have considerable social and environmental impacts in the local area. This is also true in the case of the Nachtigal dam. Firstly, the dam makes use of the reservoir of the nearby Lom Pangar dam, which dates from 2017 and which regulates the water level in the Sanaga. A large area of rainforest was cut down for this reservoir. Much organic sediment has collected on its bed and dead wood still floats on its surface, causing the reservoir to emit large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. This shows that dams are by no means climate neutral.
For the Nachtigal dam itself, several hundred hectares of forest were cut down. This forest supplied food and income for local residents and was a source of food for fish and other life in and alongside the river. Artisanal sand miners, fishermen and fishmongers have seen their incomes fall since the arrival of the dam. The promise of employment generated by the construction of the dam was not fulfilled, because cheap labour was used from other areas within Cameroon and abroad. The large influx of men also led to a greater risk of sexual violence against women. In addition, the inhabitants of local villages report that the number of mosquitoes has increased since the forest was cut down and diseases such as malaria and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are more prevalent.
Complaint to financial institutions
Our Cameroonian partner IFI Synergy has consequently filed a complaint on behalf of the inhabitants of the villages of Nachtigal, Mebassa, Olembe, Ndji and Ndokoa to the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, to the World Bank's Inspection Panel, and to the AfDB's Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (BCRM). The complaint is co-signed by the chiefs of a number of local villages, each with their own ethnicity, and by representatives of traditional sandmen, fishermen and fishmongers.
The complaint refers to the failure to honour promises and agreements relating to compensation, the re-training of affected vocational groups, employment and the prevention of disease. In addition, there were no publicly announced consultation meetings before construction of the dam started, and the census held to determine who was eligible for compensation was not performed correctly.
Both ENDS supported IFI Synergy in preparing this complaint by sharing our knowledge of the social and environmental policies of the International Financial Institutions and bringing them into contact with the complaints mechanisms at the various IFIs.
Improved living conditions
IFI Synergy, an alliance of organisations that previously protested against the construction of the Lom Pangar dam, is now working on improving the economic position and living conditions of the people living in the area around the Nachtigal dam. They want their safety and health to be better protected, and the planting of new forests to compensate for CO2 emissions and improve the living environment.
They are doing this in tense political circumstances. The company constructing the dam is using soldiers to deny local people access to the project area and the river. And people have experienced intimidation at consultation meetings and while the current complaints procedures are being taking place.
IFI Synergy and the local residents hope that their complaint will ultimately lead to the investors in the dam taking their social responsibility and pursuing their own social and environmental policies in the implementation of this and other projects.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Advocating for responsible policies of development banks
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.
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.
Publication / 29 May 2019
Agua Zarca: indigenous fight against dam costs lives
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.
Publication / 11 February 2016
Indigenous communities threatened by Barro Blanco dam in Panama
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.
Letter / 1 October 2014
Policy briefing note on World Bank safeguards, October 2014
Both ENDS letter to the World Bank on the Environmental and Social Safeguards policies review. The World Bank safeguards review is part of a reorganization that aims at making lending cost-effective with less rules in place, which likely entails an increase in the number of problem projects. The reorganization aims at making lending
more cost-effective, forms in place. Safeguards policies are of crucial importance for project affected people to hold banks to account. However, Environmental and Social Frameworks (ESF) nowadays replace safeguards at banks. The ESF model leads to a reduction of a Bank's direct and mandatory role in overview, including due diligence, monitoring, and evaluation, of Bank funded activities and investments, along with a shift towards a greater reliance on client self-assessment and self-reporting. Our main ask is a return to binding, rules-based safeguards policies at banks.
Letter / 15 May 2022
Both ENDS Comments and recommendations on the Bank Group’s Environmental and Social Policy of the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
This letter by Both ENDS to the African Development Bank is a comment written in reaction to a draft version published by the Bank of its Environmental and Social Policy as part of a formal public consultation held by the Bank. This comment was sent to the bank along a joint submission letter with other CSOs, and specifically responds to the overarching Policy.
The bank's flexible requirements for clients and national standards for risky projects dilute safeguards. Project approval should be predicated on specific and binding targets for compliance and reflect input from communities involved.
Letter / 15 May 2022
Joint Submission of comments and recommendations to the Public Consultation on AfDB Integrated Safeguards System
Together with 29 other CSO's, we've submitted our comments and recommendations in the Public Consultation on the AfDB Integrated Safeguards System. These include that the Bank should prioritize community-led development and human rights-based approaches; protect natural resources and tackles environmental and climate crises; raise the bar on access to information, transparency and accountability; facilitate participatory processes in policies, programmes and projects; and end inequality, poverty, and the cutback and privatization of vital services.
Letter / 5 August 2021
A joint CSO submission to the European Investment Bank, Standard 11 on intermediate finance in the Public consultation on the EIB Group's
16 civil society organisations including Both ENDS have written a letter of concern to the European Investment Bank about a newly proposed standard for the Bank its intermediate finance investing. Both ENDS contribution to the contents of the joint letter consists out of proposals for improvement of screening, scoping, due diligence, appraisal, monitoring and supervision of high-risk clients and sub-projects. through financial intermediaries and clear and mandatory social, environmental and human rights requirements for FI investing matters.
Letter / 23 August 2021
Joint CSO Submission A Gender comment on the newly proposed EIB E&S Framework
6 civil society organizations, including Both ENDS have submitted a gender comment on the newly proposed EIB Environmental and Social Framework. The EIB Environmental and Social Standards has to be updated to ensure that due attention to gender specific impacts, risks and related mitigation strategies is integrated in the policy and each standard, as well the assessment needs to specifically address the needs and problems of all genders. A lot of improvements can be made in the integration of gender aspects in policy and standards, in order to prevent violation of the rights of women and girls during project implementation, and tools (widely used by other organisations) and or commitments for their development should be included (inclusive consultations, Gender assessments and analyses, gender impact assessment, Legal Assessment Tool (LAT) for gender-equitable land tenure, gender responsive tools for prevention of violence.
News / 18 November 2019
European Investment Bank goes fossilfree
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.
Fair Green and Global Alliance (FGG)
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.
Publication / 10 December 2018
Blog / 13 November 2018
The "Dutch hero" came to develop "poor Africa"
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.
Letter / 9 November 2020
Input into FMO’s public consultation on Climate Action Commitments and Fossil Fuel Statement
Both ENDS and partners gave their input on FMO's public consultation on Climate Action Commitments and Fossil Fuel Statement. 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.
News / 11 May 2017
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.
Video / 18 March 2015
Money Energy People
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.
Letter / 23 August 2021
Reflecting the duality of gender and climate in the EIB’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Framework’s Standard 5 on Climate Change
This briefing of Eurodad, co-authored by Pieter Jansen, Both ENDS aims to outline recommendations on how the European Investment Bank should address the interconnected issue of gender inequity and the climate crisis in the newly proposed environmental and social policy.Severe climate change has consequences for human rights, including the right to life. As such, under the European convention on human rights the EIB has a duty to stop carbon-emissions related investments. The EIB and project promoters must monitor a project's greenhouse gas emissions and the climate risks of the project on the natural environment, and the women possibly affected by the project. The newly proposed policy should ensure that project promoters, who apply for EIB funding, submit a gender and social inclusion plan, and full participation and engagement of women, local communities and stakeholders in the Climate Risk Vulnerability Assessment methodology.
Letter / 5 August 2021
Joint CSO Submission EIB Group Environmental and Social Policy
25 civil society organisations, including Both ENDS have submitted a comment on the overarching policy of the newly proposed Environmental and Social Framework of the EIB Group. The EIB has to undertake environmental, climate, social and human rights assessment and appraisal of proposed projects to inform the decision of financing and must not rely on a clients' self-assessment and reporting (solely). The Policy needs to state clearly what the due diligence, monitoring and reporting responisibilities for the EIB are, in particular regarding human rights and contractual clauses with clients should enshrine the standards in all EIB operations, enabling for suspension of contracts if the standards are not implemented.