Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A group of NGOs say the Asian Development Bank does more harm than good

Recently the Asian Development Bank pledged to triple it's lending to help Asian poverty. During the global recession the bank wanted to do more to prevent the effects the recession will have in creating many more poor people. They felt the best way to do this was to increase the number of projects the bank lends to.

However, a group on Non-Governmental Organizations has blasted the ADB, saying their anti-poverty projects do more harm than good. They claim that their projects displace people from their homes, hurt the environment, and does not lift people out of poverty.

From this IRIN story that we found in Reuters Alert Net, we learn more about what this group of NGOs have to say.

But the NGO Forum on ADB, a network of 250 activist groups that has been monitoring the bank's activities since 1992, called the move "irresponsible and dangerous", alleging the region had experienced forced displacement and environmental degradation caused by ADB-funded projects.

The NGO Forum said the capital increase was largely designed for private sector clients and big infrastructure, and numerous studies had shown that such financing did not benefit the poorest.

"If not managed well, this 200 percent general capital increase could easily translate into a more than 200 percent increase in social and environmental harm," Red Constantino, executive director of the NGO Forum, said in a statement.

According to the International Accountability Project, a global development watchdog, at current rates, approximately 15 million people in the world every year are forcibly displaced from their homes, communities and lands to make way for large development projects such as mines, dams, power plants, infrastructure and plantations.

In Nepal, 20,000 people will be forced to move from their land to make way for the planned ADB-funded West Seti Hydropower Project in the northwest, said Ratan Bandari, whose family will be among those relocated if the project goes ahead.

"We're not provided with any information about the project, except from reports," Bandari told IRIN at the ADB annual meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali from 2 to 5 May.

"There's no internal investment in the project. There are so many problems. There's no information and there's no meaningful consultation with the locals," he said.

Kuroda said the bank had done its best to make its projects environmentally sustainable.

"We have appropriate accountability mechanisms through which any complaints regarding environmental safeguards, resettlement issues could be resolved appropriately," Kuroda told a news conference on 2 May in Bali.

"I think ADB has learned quite a lot from past experiences and we have made substantial progress and I must say most of our infrastructure projects actually improve the environment," he said.

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