IFC plans for a joint project with the Shell oil company in Nigeria have been condemned by Niger Delta-based community organisations and international human rights groups. The proposal involves a US$15 million contribution to a fund to be managed in partnership with Shell Nigeria. The purpose of the fund is to provide loans to small and medium-sized local contractors working for Shell in the Niger Delta area.
When this became known in late May, just days before the World Bank’s Board was due to approve the loan, Environmental Rights Action and other Niger Delta-based organisations wrote to the World Bank. They “expressed their shock that the IFC will ignore the safeguard policies of the World Bank in this project that will impact on the environment, livelihood and communal integrity in the violated Niger Delta area of Nigeria. It appears that the IFC has considered the profitability of the proposed investment and ignored the social and environmental costs to be borne by the communities of the Niger Delta area.”
They argued that the Niger Delta remains an extremely volatile region, where human rights violations and oil spills continue. The project would not lead to genuine development as “oil and gas contractors do not create jobs in a sustainable way. Contractors to Shell operate on a hire and fire basis, with workers forced to operate under difficult working conditions with very low wages”.