By William Lloyd George, March 19, 2013. Source: The Guardian
An independent panel has called for an investigation into a World Bank-funded project in Ethiopia following accusations from refugees that the bank is funding a programme that forced people off their land.
In a report, seen by the Guardian, the inspection panel – the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism – calls for an investigation into complaints made by refugees from the Anuak indigenous group from Gambella, western Ethiopia, in relation to the bank’s policies and procedures.
The refugees claim the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme funded by the bank and the UK Department for International Development (DfID), is contributing directly to the Ethiopian government’s “villagisation” programme, introduced in 2010. The programme seeks to move people to new villages, but residents say this is done with little consultation or compensation, and that these sites lack adequate facilities.
In a letter sent to the panel in September, the refugees say some people have been forcibly relocated from their land, which is now being leased to foreign investors.
“These mass evictions have been carried out under the pretext of providing better services and improving the livelihoods of the communities,” says the letter. “However, once they moved to the new sites, they found not only infertile land, but also no schools, clinics, wells or other basic services.”