World Bank, IMF role in Ebola epidemic

This video says about itself:

World Bank and IMF Policies Behind the Inadequate Health Infrastructure to Quell Ebola

6 November 2014

The World Bank’s response to the Ebola crisis is inadequate since it is responsible for the weakening health care systems in the region, says policy analyst and activist, Nii Akuetteh.

The transcript of this video is here.

Band Aid 30: clumsy, patronising and wrong in so many ways. Bob Geldof is right: Ebola must be stopped. But is the revival of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, with those lyrics that haunt me year after year, really the best way to help? Here.

How World Bank loans to poor countries led to the displacement of 3.4 million people – interactive: here.

HOW THE WORLD BANK ABANDONED ITS MISSION TO HELP THE POOR “Over the last decade, projects funded by the World Bank have physically or economically displaced an estimated 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods … The World Bank has regularly failed to live up to its own policies for protecting people harmed by projects it finances.” [Sasha Chavkin, Ben Hallman, Michael Hudson, Cecile Schilis-Gallego and Shane Shifflett, HuffPost]

World Bank destroys rainforests

This video is called Wildlife of the Deep Congo Rain Forest.

From Wildlife Extra:

World Bank encouraging industrial scale logging

World Bank refuses to review its support for logging in tropical rainforests despite criticism from its own independent evaluators

February 2013. The World Bank Board of Directors has blocked a call by independent evaluators to review the outcomes of the Bank’s support for industrial-scale logging in tropical rainforests. The evaluators concluded in a report that such operations have not been effective in reducing poverty, the World Bank’s core mandate, or achieving sustainability. Despite these findings, the Board voted unanimously against a recommendation that the Bank review the effectiveness of its support for tropical forest logging.

“The very survival of tropical forests and the way of life of people who live in them is under threat, and the World Bank is in denial about its contribution to the problem,” said Rick Jacobsen of Global Witness. “As a public institution tasked with reducing poverty, the World Bank should take very seriously its own evaluators’ finding that its approach is not helping vulnerable forest communities. It’s time for the Bank to stop defending destructive logging practices in the name of development benefits that never materialize.”

Widespread logging of tropical rainforests

The Bank has been instrumental in putting into place policies in many tropical countries that result in widespread logging of tropical rainforests. Yet according to a growing body of evidence, industrial-scale logging contributes to tropical deforestation while doing little to improve the lives of forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples. Corruption and lack of government oversight further aggravate the problem. In the countries of Africa’s Congo Basin, home to the world’s second largest rainforest next to the Amazon, law enforcement in the logging sector is ineffective and corruption and cronyism are widespread. Recent reports from a government-appointed independent observer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, found that many international logging companies are carrying out illegal activities.

DRC forests in danger

“After 10 years of World Bank-led reforms in the DRC, roughly 150,000 km2 of rainforest remain in the hands of poorly regulated international logging companies, while communities are once again being left behind,” said Susanne Breitkopf of Greenpeace International. The reform process in the DRC has been marred with irregularities and widely criticized; meanwhile, a law that would support community management of forests has been stalled for years, and the Bank is financing a forest zoning process that is likely to earmark huge areas of rainforest for industrial logging.

Forest dependent communities

While the Bank fiercely rejected the evaluators’ criticism of its support for industrial-scale logging in the tropics, it accepted seven other recommendations made in the report. Two of these focused on the need to provide more support for forest-dependent communities to allow them to directly manage their own forest resources. The Bank has not yet indicated how it plans to implement these recommendations. Breitkopf remains sceptical: “In order to reduce poverty and deforestation, the Bank needs to put land rights and community forest management at front and centre of its projects, rather than making them cosmetic add-ons.”

World Bank harms Ethiopian, Kenyan people

This video says about itself:

Many Kenyan residents say the Gibe III dam project, located along the Omo River, will have a negative impact on their environment. VOA’s Vincent Makori reports and talks to Ikal Angelei, founder of Friends of Lake Turkana Kenya, 2012, Goldman, Environmental Prize Winner.

From Wildlife Extra:

Outrage as World Bank funds power lines linked to controversial dam

The Gibe III dam threatens the livelihoods of 200,000

August 2012. Human rights organizations, including Survival International and Human Rights Watch, have fiercely criticized a decision by the World Bank to fund power lines in Ethiopia linked to the controversial Gibe III dam.

The newly-approved project will help transport power generated by a notorious hydroelectric dam in southern Ethiopia, to Kenya’s power grid. Ethiopia’s controversial Gibe III dam is expected to be complete by 2014, but the devastating social and environmental consequences of its construction are generating widespread opposition. The decision to help back such a controversial project violates World Bank guidelines on safeguarding indigenous peoples’ rights and involuntary resettlement.

Lower Omo Valley people livelihoods endangered

More than 200,000 indigenous people in the Lower Omo Valley stand to have their livelihoods and food security destroyed by the dam. Water levels are already unprecedently low and are devastating the self-sufficiency of pastoralist tribes such as the Bodi and Mursi and the hunter-gatherer Kwegu.

Violent land grabs

Added to this, violent land grabs, forcible resettlement and human rights abuses are rife in the Lower Omo, as the government clears land to make way for lucrative sugarcane and cotton plantations irrigated by the newly-dammed river.

Ethiopia has failed to consult any indigenous communities over the construction of Gibe III or its aggressive plantation plans, which are devastating the Lower Omo Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The dam will also affect many tribal communities across the border near Kenya’s Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake.

Survival International’s Director Stephen Corry said, ‘The electrical needs of Kenya and Ethiopia should not be used to justify such flagrant human rights abuses. This is yet another ill-fated project supported by the World Bank, which will destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. These are some of the most self-sufficient communities in the Horn of Africa, and yet their human rights are being openly trampled on by an organization that ought to have learnt from history, rather than repeat the mistakes of the past.’

Survival International, Human Rights Watch and International Rivers all condemn the World Bank’s decision to fund these transmission lines.

A TURKANA lobby group has called on the government of Kenya and Ethiopia to consider more environment and people friendly development before proceeding with their grand projects: here.

‘There is a gold rush happening in Ethiopia, but it’s not a hunt for the yellow metal. It’s a quest for the green gold of fertile farmland.’ So says Richard Schiffman at Farmland Grab. ‘A nation more associated with periodic famine and acute childhood malnutrition than with agricultural bounty is leasing millions of hectares — an area the size of Belgium — to foreign companies, who want to grow and export food to places like Saudi Arabia, China, India, and Europe: here.

With support from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, BirdLife International is working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources, is raising awareness and building capacity on the role of ecosystems in adaptation amongst government and civil society in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda: here.

USA: Wolfowitz at American Enterprise Institute

This satirical video is about the ouster of Paul Wolfowitz over the revelation of a promotion and pay raise he secretly gave his girlfriend who worked for the World Bank.

It says about itself:

These are dark days for Paul Wolfowitz. His girlfriend broke up with him last week, after he left his job in disgrace for getting said girlfriend a gig. That, after helping start the Iraq war…his downfall would be tragic if it weren’t so completely fucking awesome.

From the blog of James Pinkerton in the USA:

Like Napoleon at Elba, Wolfowitz Finds Contentment at AEI

Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and former President of the World Bank, has been named Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. But while AEI is known as a hub for hawkish neoconservatives–including Richard Perle, David Frum, and Michael Ledeen–Wolfowitz will not be working on any more foreign wars, according to AEI President Chris DeMuth. Instead, as the July 2 press release informs us, Wolfowitz will “work on entrepreneurship and development issues, Africa, and public-private partnerships.” …

In other news, Napoleon announced that he was perfectly content to remain at Elba, denying rumors that he would attempt a comeback in France. Also, the Kaiser Wilhelm II reiterated his long-held opposition to plunging Germany into a two-front war. And finally, President Lyndon Johnson forcefully declared, “We are not about to send American boys 10,000 miles away to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”

See also here.

And here.

AEI update, July 2008: here.

Bush: Zoellick should succeed Wolfowitz

Demonstrators against World Bank and IMF policies

As quite some people, including this blog, expected, George W. Bush wants Robert Zoellick to succeed Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank.

USA: Robert Zoellick, Bush’s successor to Wolfowitz?

Robert ZoellickFrom GMWatch:

Bush’s “food bully” favourite to take over at World Bank


GM Watch comment: With Paul Wolfowitz on the way out at the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, the former U.S. trade representative, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed him as the Bank’s president.

Zoellick was, of course, the man who drove the U.S.’s WTO case against the E.U. on GM food – a policy brilliantly picked apart in the article below by political analyst Conn Hallinan, provost at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Hallinan’s analysis should ring alarm bells given that it makes clear that the policy Zoellick was ruthlessly pursuing was ultimately about strong-arming developing countries to toe the Bush line.

Food Bully

By Conn Hallinan

July 29 2003

The decision by the Bush administration to sue the European Union (EU) over its five-year moratorium on genetically modified (GM) foods has all the earmarks of a “shock and awe” campaign targeted at prying open a major potential market.

But the suit before the World Trade Organization (WTO) may be aimed less at the EU than at developing nations, which are far more vulnerable to strong-arm tactics.

Take the case of the reluctant Egyptians.

Egypt had originally joined the suit, along with Argentina and Canada, but, in the face of a domestic backlash over the safety of GM food crops, withdrew.

However, it filed a separate complaint on an EU ban against its GM drought-resistant cotton, joining, at least in spirit, the U.S. action.

Besides responding to popular sentiment, the Egyptians were also nervous over the confrontational tone of the U.S. suit.

“The way (the complaint) was announced was like a war with the EU,” one Egyptian trade official told the Financial Times, “We can’t go to war with the EU. It is 40% of our trade.”

Avoiding war with the EU, however, landed them in a shootout with the Americans.

Reacting with fury, the U.S. accused the Egyptians of breaking their word and cancelled free trade talks.

According to the Financial Times, Egyptian officials were “stunned” by the U.S. reaction, particularly after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick recently described their country as a “linchpin” for a Middle East free trade agreement and “the heart of the Arab world.”

The White House was banking on Egypt to represent the need for GM crops in “developing countries,” in particular, Africa.

GM crops as a solution to the African famine is one of the major arguments the Bush administration has used against the EU ban.

The Bush administration seems to be applying its “for us or against us” anti-terrorism formula to trade policy, particularly if the country is a developing one like Egypt.

Similarly, when Croatia and Thailand raised health objections to GM crops, the U.S. threatened trade sanctions and both countries backed down

The White House has been more circuitous with big countries, like India and Brazil.

In the case of Brazil, U.S. corporations–underwritten by taxpayers–bring politicians and scientists to the U.S. and South Africa to study GM crops.

And reaction to India’s ban on U.S. GM crops has been muted.

There is much at stake in this fight over biotechnology, and it has nothing to do with alleviating hunger or overcoming famine.

The”Big Five” biotech companies–Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Dow Chemical, and Aventis–have invested billions of dollars in research and development.

Out of 1085 biotech patents, the Big Five control 937.

The U.S. argues that GM crops represent the new “green revolution” that will allow countries to feed the growing world population.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own Economic Research Service found that crop yields were no higher for GM crops than they are for regular crops, and GM crops can be tricky to grow.

They were created for huge, American super-farms, not the small-scale agriculture that characterizes most of the developing world.

Plus GM seeds cost more, and few poor farmers have access to cash.

The Bush administration presents its GM-friendly policies as a solution to hunger.

During his recent tour of Africa, Bush said, “For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology.”

But many Africans are suspicious and see the spread of GM crops as creating a kind of “bioserfdom” with farmers in thrall to huge biotech companies.

Amadou Kanoute, research director of African Office of Consumers International, says the spread of GM crops, “will plunge Africa into greater food dependency.”

American agricultural policy has always had a strong self-interest streak in it.

According to a policy statement by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the main vehicle for foreign food aid, “The principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States.”

Hunger is a product of access and distribution, not production, as the cases of India and Uganda make clear.

India produces more than 48 million tons of surplus food, yet most is never distributed to the more than 320 million Indians who go to bed hungry each night.

In Orissa’s Kalahandi Province there is actual starvation, even though the area is rich and fertile and produces 50,000 tons of surplus rice annually.

In Uganda, the problem is transport, not food production.

The wet and fertile west of the country produces plenty of surplus, but poor roads and inadequate rail systems make shipping the food to the dry east expensive.

Yet few international organizations or lenders will pony up money for improving things like infrastructure.

The administration’s charge that EU policies are encouraging famine in Africa has deeply angered Europeans.

As EU officials point out, Europe gives Africa seven times as much aid as the U.S. does, and further, that most of that aid is delivered in cash, which bolsters local economies.

The U.S., on the other hand, delivers its aid in the form of agricultural surplus, which allows the U.S. to dump its overproduction.

The European Parliament has already decided to phase out the moratorium against GM crops, although it will demand strict labeling.

Any product containing more than 0.9% GM products will be flagged, and GM food will have to be segregated from non-GM food in production and harvesting.

The U.S., however, refuses to accept labeling.

Zoellick says, while he supports consumer choice, “this information should be non-prejudicial in presentation and feasible for producers to provide,” adding that the labeling plan “does not meet this standard.”

The “feasible” in Zoellick’s statement refers to the expense involved in segregating GM products from non-GM products.

But the administration is also nervous that that if Europeans get labeling, Americans might demand the same.

Three-fourths of the food on U.S. shelves contain GM products, and a recent study by the biotech firm Novartis found that 92% of Americans approve of labeling.

The EU is unlikely to be intimidated by fines imposed by the WTO, and if the Americans manage to block labeling, European consumers will probably just boycott all American food imports.

The only real casualties in that trade war will be American farmers.

The prize in this fight is not the EU, which in any case only absorbs some 10% of American agricultural exports.

The prize is the developing world, where regulations are lax, profits higher, and resistance may carry a very high price.

Conn Hallinan is a provost at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a political analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus.

Wolfowitz resigns in nepotism scandal

Cartoon about Wolfowitz and his paramour

Paul Wolfowitz will resign from the World Bank in his nepotism scandal.

Not for ethical, but for political reasons, as the United States is the most powerful country in the world, the World Bank board communique on his dismissal is milder than this nepotism in the case of his girlfriend Shaha Riza warrants.

So, about now, quite some unattractive people and things are quitting, all in their own ways: Jerry Fallwell, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, all of Bush’s “Justice” Department bigwigs except so far its boss Gonzales, Harry’s Place blog …

Dick Cheney and George W. Bush should be next.

See also here.

And here.

And here.

Wolfowitz blames his paramour Riza for his World Bank nepotism scandal

Wolfowitz and Riza cartoon

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Wolfowitz effectively blamed Riza for his predicament as well, saying that her “intractable position” in demanding a salary increase as compensation for her career disruption forced him to grant one to pre-empt a lawsuit.

He is scheduled to appear before the board this afternoon.

The board is expected to begin deliberating on how to respond as soon as tonight.

Board members are inclined to issue a resolution expressing a lack of confidence in Wolfowitz‘s leadership, senior bank officials said.

Dick Cheney (for as long as it lasts) still supports Wolfowitz.

Update: Wolfowitz threatens World Bank staff: here.

Wolfowitz’ four-letter words: here.

World Bank Panel Finds Wolfowitz Broke the Rules

Bush and Wolfowitz, cartoon by Steve Bell

From ABC in the USA:

World Bank Panel Finds Wolfowitz Broke the Rules

Report Says Bank President Broke Rules Over Pay Package for Girlfriend

May 14, 2007

An ad hoc World Bank panel has concluded that bank president Paul Wolfowitz broke bank rules when he orchestrated a promotion and raise for his girlfriend, a bank employee, after he became bank president in June 2005.

The report, submitted to the bank’s board and released Monday, concluded that Wolfowitz‘s actions represented a “conflict of interest.”

The report added that there is a “crisis in the leadership” at the World Bank.

Wolfowitz is expected to appear before the bank’s 24-member board on Tuesday.

The board could vote to oust the president, an unprecedented action.

If the board decides not to vote Wolfowitz out, it could ask him to step down, offer a vote of no confidence, or reprimand him.

World Bank panel says Wolfowitz is guilty of nepotism

Wolfowitz and Riza cartoon

Reuters reports:

World Bank panel finds Wolfowitz broke rules

Tue May 8, 2007 1:02AM EDT

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON – A World Bank panel has found that bank President Paul Wolfowitz‘s handling of a promotion and pay increase for his companion represented a conflict of interest and broke rules, but made no recommendation on how he should be reprimanded, board sources said on Monday.

The former U.S. deputy defense secretary, a key architect of the Iraq war, has been given several days to respond to the findings of the panel involving a lucrative deal for his companion, Shaha Riza, a World Bank Middle East expert.

One source close to the World Bank board said the panel found Wolfowitz‘s actions amounted to conflict of interest, while another source said the panel found he broke internal rules by personally directing Riza’s transfer to the State Department with a promotion and salary increase.

A meeting of the 24-nation World Bank board, which will determine whether Wolfowitz should be fired for his actions, is now scheduled for later in the week, possibly on Friday.

See also here.

And here.

Juan Cole on Wolfowitz: here.