Chad-Cameroon pipeline: implementation, challenges and lessons learned

17 April 2007 | Minutes

This meeting saw the presentation of key findings in a recent report by US NGO Environmental Defense, Cameroon NGO Center for Environment and Development, and Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights. The speakers pointed out that the World Bank has failed to ensure that Chad’s oil money is used for the well-being of all Chadians, and that Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies have not been observed as part of project implementation.

The speakers also showed how the World Bank’s recently produced Project Implementation Completion Report (ICR) contains numerous misrepresentations and is seriously at odds with the findings of the World Bank’s official project monitors, the External Compliance Monitoring Group, and the International Advisory Group. For instance, claims that compensation and the Indigenous Peoples Plan have been implemented in a timely manner. However, the ICR has at least recognised that oil revenues are likely to aggravate Chad’s security problems.

Delphine Djiraibe, Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights

  • The poor have got poorer, the rich have got richer. The situation has worsened also due to the civil war. In 1999 civil society pointed out these security risks to the World Bank.
  • Petrol money is being used to fuel the armed conflict in Chad
  • Social problems are getting worse
  • The political and security situation has been aggravated by Darfour and the DRC
  • The World Bank always say they have no political mandate, but without the World Bank this project would never have happened.

Martin Zint, AG Erdoel, Germany

  • He coordinates NGO work in Germany on this project
  • The project was approved just a few years after Ken Saro Wiwa was executed in Nigeria. We wanted to avoid another Ogoni situation
  • Since 1996 he has visited Chad regularly.
  • he refers to the project as a “two-level” project. There is a big gap between the situation on the ground and what is written in World Bank reports. A fibre cable does not solve the telecommunications issue with such limited infrastructure.
  • More needs to be done to involve civil society on the ground. They are not aware of how to present their case to the Bank

Korinna Horta, Environmental Defense

She has just come back from Cameroon. With regard to the Indigenous Bakola/Bagyeli peoples, the ICR report said that the indigenous peoples plan was carried out in a timely manner, but the situation is dire for them. This project is threatening to push them over the brink. A few agricultural tools have been handed out, but the health component is not working. There are some very sick children. The hospital, run by nuns have had no support from the trust fund, and NGOs are picking up the tab. Education is comparably bad, at the school they only eat rice and wear rags. A project meant to reduce poverty is ignoring the plight of the most vulnerable. As a people they will be wiped out. Meanwhile, Lee Raymond, the former head of Exxon received a $400 million retirement package.

On the oil spill, why did they put such a positive spin on it? The press reported it before the consortium did. How would the Bank react to a more serious spill. What is the division of responsibility between the government and consortium? Who would bear the cost? Insurance?

Tim Carrington, World Bank: When is it too early/ late to address the project impacts, including on poverty reduction?

Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, Senior Program Manager, for Africa (WB)

She raised the question of how long it will take to show whether or not the pipeline has reduced poverty. It is too early to have a conclusive assessment. We need a longer period. The country assistance strategy is usually a 10 year period. Transparency has been important to the design of this project. There has been information available on revenue. It is also important to bring donor communities into the discussion to make sure that projects have the desired impacts. The impact of activities is a complex endeavor. Teachers are receiving compensation from oil revenues. Resources were put into vaccines . What will be the resources for Chad when the oil is finished? We need to think about this?

Nikki Reisch, Bank Information Centre acknowledged that the Bank had spent time on the ground, but questioned its approach to poverty reduction.

Rosa Orellana, Environmental Specialist (IFC) stated that the issue of compensation has been identified, and that consultation will be done. Also that IFC is looking at the issue of trust funds and also the role of Fedec (an environmental compensatory mechanism set up for the project). She acknowledges the problems with the projects.

On indigenous peoples, someone else from the World Bank disagreed with Korinna’s point that the project was pushing people over the edge, and said that the Indigenous Peoples Plan was not designed to address indigenous people in Cameroon. Another Bank staffer said that a World bank indigenous advisor has gone to the Africa region and will be stepping up the world. He will go to a meeting in Brazaville.

Korinna Horta pointed out that one of the central recommendations of the EIR was the proper sequencing of investments. Government conditions and capacity must be right before embarking on an investment. Recent years have seen vast increases in mining by the IFC especially on high-risk, high-reward infrastructure. We can’t leave the time line open.

Geoffrey Bergen, Chad Country Manager said that they are accompanying civil society organizations in the country.