Connect with us


They should not be called public development banks



From 9-12 November 2020, 450 finance institutions from around the world will gather for the first international meeting of public development banks, dubbed the “Finance in Common” summit, hosted by the French government. The institutions, which range from the World Bank to the China Development Bank, collectively spend $2 trillion a year on so-called development projects – roads, power plants, agribusiness plantations and more. Much of this spending is financed by the public – us – which is why they called themselves “public development banks”. But our partners on the ground and our experience teach us they are not public and what they fund is not development.

For the most part, these institutions get their money from public coffers, fuelled by people’s labour and taxes. As state-owned institutions, they have the obligation to respect and protect human rights in their policies and operations. And they are supposed to be accountable to the public, through government oversight bodies. But that accountability hardly exists. From Proparco in France, to BIO in Belgium, to DFC in the US, few people have heard of these development banks much less know what they are up to.

In contrast to development cooperation bodies, which provide grants and loans to governments of the global south, development banks invest in the private sector for a financial return. They argue that companies drive growth and jobs, and, for this to happen, financiers have to take risk, for example through debt and private equity. A few million dollars from a development bank gives companies a form of guarantee that they can then use to raise more millions from private lenders or other development banks, often at a cheaper rate. This is how the development banks play such a critical role in enabling corporations operating in the global south to expand further into markets and territories – from polluting coal plants in Bangladesh, to controversial hydroelectric dams in Honduras, to hazardous soybean plantations in Paraguay – in ways they could not otherwise.

As civil society organisations working closely with partners and communities in the global south, we are most familiar with these institutions’ involvement in agriculture. What they contribute to can hardly be called development. We have witnessed how they invest primarily in agribusiness companies and an industrial model of agriculture that is a main driver of both pandemics and the climate crisis. Development banks have little track record for supporting locally-controlled food systems or peasant-led agroecological farming, which are the real solutions to these two problems.

Over the past five years, for instance, a number of groups have worked together to support communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo badly affected by a Canadian oil palm plantation company that received more than $140 million in financing from numerous development banks, including approximately $88 million from the UK development bank CDC Group. The company, Feronia Inc, was majority-owned by the development banks until it went bankrupt this year and was handed over to a private equity fund based in the tax haven of Mauritius. Feronia, which never made a profit but paid its expat staff handsomely, would have collapsed years ago had it not been for the intervention of the development banks.

It was argued that the involvement of these institutions would provide leverage for the local communities living in and around the plantations to address their long-standing grievances that have existed ever since the lands were stolen from them at gunpoint over a 100 years ago by the then Anglo-Dutch giant Unilever and colonial Belgium’s King Leopold. They have suffered immensely over the past century, and any sincere commitment to “development” could only be possible if it began by addressing the theft of their lands and forests and led to land restitution and reparations. But the development banks have resisted any meaningful movement down this path. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

They have taken no action to address the historic conflicts over the nearly 100,000 hectares of land concessions or the allegations of corruption plaguing the project. Their environmental, social and governance (ESG) plans did nothing to alleviate poverty in the communities. And the involvement of the various banks did not reduce rampant human rights violations against villagers or workers. What’s worse, the banks have acted to undermine the community efforts to use the grievance mechanisms that they themselves established.

The reality is that no matter the ESG guidelines or codes of conduct against land grabbing, there is no way that development bank investments in industrial plantations can contribute to “sustainable development”. These plantations are colonial relics, designed purely to extract profits for their owners and to produce commodities for foreign buyers. They require stolen lands, exploited labour and armed violence to keep distraught villagers and workers from rising up. The creation of “jobs” and social projects, like poorly equipped schools and health clinics, that the development banks use to justify their presence is merely the theft and destruction of lands and resources that the villagers once had to sustain themselves.

Let us be clear: public development banks are disconnected from any sense of what “public” means and any argument about what “development” should look like. In food and farming, the backbone of our very existence, they finance corporate agribusiness. They were not set up to support any other model and have no real capacity to do so. As industrial agriculture is responsible for up to 37% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, the case to dismiss development banks is clear. We need a very different approach to international finance that supports communities rather than companies, and food systems free of corporate control.

Signed by 

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa – Africa

WoMin African Alliance – Africa

Entraide & Fraternité – Belgium

FIAN Belgium – Belgium

CIDSE – Belgium

Friends of the Earth Europe – Belgium

Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária – Brazil

SOS Chapada dos Veadeiros – Brazil

Movimento Ciencia Cidadã – Brazil

CAPINA – Cooperação e Apoio a Projetos de Inspiração Alternativa – Brazil

Terra de Direitos – Brazil

Comissão Pastoral da Terra – Brazil

Amigos da Terra Brasil – Brazil

FAOR –  Fórum da Amazônia Oriental – Brazil

FASE – Solidariedade e Educação – Brazil

IPDMS – Instituto de Pesquisa, Direitos e Movimentos Sociais – Brazil

Rede Jubileu Sul – Brazil

Via Campesina – Brazil

Emater – Brazil

Campaign in Defense of the Cerrado – Brazil

Réseau des acteurs du développement durable (RADD) – Cameroon

Synaparcam – Cameroon

REFEB – Côte d’Ivoire

DIOBASS Platform – Democratic Republic of Congo

Réseau d’information et d’appuis aux ONG en République démocratique du Congo (RIAO-RDC) – Democratic Republic of Congo

Acción Ecológica – Ecuador

Confédération paysanne – France

CCFD-Terre Solidaire – France

Les Amis de la Terre – France

Attac France – France

Survie – France

Muyissi Environnement – Gabon

FIAN Germany – Germany

APVVU – India

Indian Social Action Forum – India

Growthwatch – India

Karavali Karnataka Janabhivriddhi Vedike – India

Sahanivasa – India
Bina Desa – Indonesia

KRuHA – Indonesia

SNI – Indonesia Fisherfolk Union – Indonesia

Suluh Muda Inspirasi – Indonesia

GERAK LAWAN – Indonesia

Serikat Tani Merdeka (SETAM) – Indonesia

Front Perjuangan Pemuda Indonesia (FPPI) – Indonesia

Indonesia for Global Justice – Indonesia

Koalisi Rakyat Untuk Keadilan Perikanan (KIARA) – Indonesia

Solidaritas Perempuan – Indonesia

Global Legal Action Network – Ireland

Trócaire – Ireland

SONIA for a Just New World – Italy
Africa Japan Forum – Japan
Africa Rikai Project – Japan

Eriko Yano – Japan

Network between Village and Town – Japan

Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) – Japan

Friends of the Earth Japan – Japan

Missionary Society of Saint Columban – Japan

WE21 Japan – Japan

Indigenous Strategy & Institution for Development – Kenya

SOS FAIM- Luxembourg

Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY – Madagascar/France

Milieudefensie – Netherlands
Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee – Pakistan
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Philippines

Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico, CLOC-LVC – Puerto Rico

Kamara Organic Promoter – Rwanda
La Via Campesina South Asia – South Asia
Korea Women Peasants’ Association – South Korea

Bread for all – Switzerland

Generation Engage Network – Uganda

Corner House – United Kingdom

Global Justice Now – United Kingdom

Friends of the Earth United States – United States

The Oakland Institute – United States

Thousand Currents  – United States

Grassroots International – United States

Family Farm Defenders – United States

National Family Farm Coalition – United States

Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) – International

GRAIN – International

Biofuelwatch – International

World Rainforest Movement – International


Original source: Collective statement

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Witness Radio welcomes the World Bank’s intervention into Kawaala drainage channel project affected persons…



By Team

Kampala – Uganda – Witness Radio Uganda has welcomed the World Bank’s decision to intervene into its funded project which is dispossessing poor urban dweller at Kawaala Zone II, Lubaga division, Kampala district.

On March 4th, 2021, the World Bank Team held its first ever virtual meeting with other stakeholders including the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) over a forceful implementation Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP 2) project.

On top of running to court to stop an illegal eviction, the residents through Witness Radio – Uganda lawyers raised a complaint to the World Bank to restrain its grantee (KCCA) from imposing a project they (residents) never participated in from the start.

In 2015, KCCA acquired USD 175 million loan from the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) for Kampala Institution and Infrastructure Development (KIIDP) project. However, part of the money (USD 17.5 million, which is 63 billion Uganda shillings) was earmarked to construct Lubigi Primary Channel.

Without following business and human rights standards, KCCA started using tricks aimed dispossessing the poor urban community at Kawaala including; hiding under section 72(1) cap 281 of the Public Health Act, and issued a notice to dwellers to pull down what it termed illegal structures erected on their land or otherwise, KCCA would do so at the cost of residents, just to cause a property loss to them.

In a meeting chaired by Martin Onyach-Olaa, a Task Team Leader, Senior Urban Specialist at the World Bank, faulted KCCA for failing to engage community including taking the contractor to the ground without their notice.

“The project affected community have valid grievances, which must be attended to in the interest of Kawaala project” Said Onyach-Olaa

The representatives from the affected community accused KCCA of intimidation, undertaking a forceful survey, sidelining and usurping powers of elected local leaders, extortion and undermining business and human rights standards before and during the implementation of the World Bank project.

“I was threatened and forced to participate in KCCA valuation exercise of my properties and I never understood what was done. I was even lured to sign on certain documents that were in a language they never explained and no copy was left with me. I am opposed to the KCCA’s working and I will not allow them to come back on my property: Said Segue Abbas.

He added that when he sought wise counsel from his lawyers, he just realized that he had been duped.

Among other recommendations, KCCA was advised to embark on an inclusive exercise to identity project affected persons, properties to be affected by the project and ensure that surveys and property valuation exercises are undertaken in accordance within the law.

About the Grievance Redress Committee the KCCA claims they elected, the World Bank saw it important that the Grievance Redress Committee be put in place with a complaint book and functional internal appeal mechanism.

It was further emphasized that no Kawaala resident will be forcefully lose his/her under a project being funded by the World Bank.

Continue Reading


Oil palm growing threatening food security in Buvuma



Some of the banana plantation gardens abandoned by farmers after they were compansented at Busamuzi sub county.

Buvuma, Uganda | Several people in Buvuma district have taken to oil palm growing at the expense of food growing. Fishing and subsistence farming were the mainstay of Buvuma residents prior to the introduction of oil palm growing.  

However, the residents have surrendered the biggest part of the land they used to plant food crops such as bananas, rice, cassava, maize and sweet potatoes on the main island to National Oil Palm Project-NOPP for the establishment of oil palm gardens. NOPP intends to operate on 10, 000 hectares of land.

The investor Buvuma – Oil Palm Uganda Limited-BOPUL, a subsidiary of Oil Palm Uganda Limited and Bidco Uganda Limited in Kalangala will use 6, 500 hectares of land while the out-growers will use the remaining 3, 500 hectares.

However, since their compensation in 2012, most of the residents have failed to secure alternative land for settlement and food production. Sarasino Namuyimba Ssekajjolo, the Buvuma District Council Speaker, says they have compiled enough information proving that most of the residents have not benefited in the first stages of the project.

He says they are considering tabling a motion halting further land acquisition in areas where NOPP has not concluded the exercise.  Ssekajjolo reveals that over 1000 residents have failed to make good use of the money they received as compensation for their land. 

A report compiled by Mary Namaganda, the Principal Assistant Curator at Makerere University Collage of Nature Sciences shows that land use change in Bugala [Kalangala] from natural vegetation to monoculture plantation has caused biodiversity loss due to the destruction of the natural habitat, soil degradation and pollution of soil and lake water resulting from the use of nitrate fertilizers, agrochemicals and effluents from the palm oil mill.  

BOPUL also intends to setup a mill. Godfrey Yiga, a resident of Kirongo says that he secured another piece of land in Jinja using the Shillings 59 million he received in compensation for his 5-acre piece of land containing a banana plantation, sweet plantains and mangoes. He, however, says that he couldn’t use the remaining balance to setup a new garden.   

Nasta Nantongo Kwagala, another resident and widow of the late Yosefu Kavamawanga who cares for seven children and three grandchildren, says NOPP compensated the tenants on her late husband’s land without her consent. She explains that by the time she applied for compensation, she was chased and stopped from farming on the land.   

George William Telebajo, another resident says the project took advantage of poverty in Buvuma to trick them into selling their land cheaply. He notes that several residents have ended up in jail for stealing food while others are now sleeping in wooden cubical at landing sites. 

Reports from the District Security Commit-DSC point to increased cases of food theft in different camps on landing sites and settlements in forest reserves. Juma Kigongo, the Buvuma Deputy Resident District Commissioner, says about 10 cases of food theft are reported at police and local councils-LCI every month in the four sub counties on the main island.  

These include Nairambi, Buwooya, Busamuzi and Buvuma town council. He, however, says most of the people involved in criminal activities are residents who accepted compensations but failed to put the money to good use. 

Wilson Sserunjogi, the Buvuma District Oil Palm Project Focal Person, says that many people have failed to put their compensation money to good use much as the project has tried to support them. He notes that for the past years they have been handling complaints and compensated thousands of residents fresh but they keep on coming back for more money after misusing it. 

“Residents and leaders are scared for nothing, Buvuma still has land for growing food and also NOPP is here to support them. We also compensated residents with land over 5 acres and above,” he said.         

Original Post: The Independent

Continue Reading


2,000 Karimojong flee to Teso in search for food



Many Karimojong children are getting emaciated as a result of lack of enough food.

Kampala, Uganda | Several families in Napak district in the Karamoja sub-region have fled their homes into the Teso region to search for casual jobs. This follows the current food shortage which is hitting the region.

Joseph Lomonyang the Napak LC V chairperson says that over 2,000 people mainly from six sub-counties of Matany, Lopei, Lokopo, Lorengechora, Iriiri and Apeitolim have crossed to the neighbouring  Teso districts of Amuria, Katakwi, Kapelebyong and Soroti looking for food.

According to Lomonyang, the number of people to flee the district is most likely to go higher given the current hunger situation.

“Last year, very many people planted crops but all the crops got destroyed by floods making our people vulnerable,” he said.

Elijah Lobucel, the Lokopo sub-county chairperson said everyday mothers and their children walk while those who can afford the costs pay for transport to Teso.

“What we are advising them is not to go to Kampala streets, but if its going to Teso for work to get food it is not bad since the Itesot are brothers and sisters under Ateker cluster,” he said.

Jimmy Tebenyang, the district councillor for Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district said many children were getting emaciated as a result of lack of enough food.

“There are families where you find children yawning from morning to evening without eating anything and that is why we are calling the government to come to the rescue of people,” he said.

Robert Okitoi, the LC V chairperson Amuria confirmed the presence of Karamoja families in the district and urged the Itesot families to treat the Karimojong as their brothers and sisters.

He also appealed to other district leaders in the Teso region to receive the people of Karamoja with a good heart and share the little they have.

“This is the situation that requires to share, I call upon the people of Amuria and Teso at large that not all the Karimojong are bad people, those who are bad disturbing to raid people of Teso are few and so we should not victimise every one because the law will deal with those raiding but let’s support the Karimojong families,” he said.



Continue Reading

Resource Center

Legal Framework