Chad Oil Project Nears Decision

14 June 2000

In May Chadian and international organisations called for the World Bank to delay its decision on funding the proposed Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, scheduled for early June. The Bank Board appeared likely to decide that enough improvements had been made to approve the project, already postponed many times.

Eighteen Chadian NGOs (ranging from the Trade Union Congress to Women for Peace) requested the delay until the following actions have been implemented and an International Independent Monitoring Group established. It stated: “the local population is in favour of the oil exploitation but only if it respects the rights and the environment of the people in the oil-bearing region and for the development of the country. The NGOs and human rights associations demand that the World Bank ensures that the project benefits the poorest”.

The demanded actions include:

1) Defining the consortium’s legal responsibilities and a detailed oil spill response plan.

2) Revising the Revenue Management Law to make transparent the selection of Control Board members and ensure balanced representation of men and women, government and civil society representatives.

3) Freeze expropriations and carry out new public consultations allowing local people to give their opinion on the project freely and in an informed manner.

4) Set up a formal framework to solve problems and conflicts during project implementation.

Friends of the Earth wrote to UK Secretary of State Clare Short urging the British Government to oppose the project. They pointed out that the Bank’s own project report recognises “significant risks” that the project will not meet its objectives, and expressed concerns about environmental threats, government corruption and human rights abuses.

In a late May letter, Jacques Ngun of indigenous Bagyeli Pygmy organisation CODEBABIK wrote to the Bank President urging him to take account of their “serious reservations on the inadequacy of project preparation” in Cameroon. He said “studies carried out by CODEBABIK with Cameroonian environment and development NGO Planet Survey, reveal the lack of adequate consultation with Pygmy communities, lack of access to information and of informed participation, culturally inappropriate methodologies, unfair compensation, and increasing social tension between the Bagyeli Pygmies and the neighbouring Bantus”.

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