Ethiopia Refuses to Cooperate With World Bank Funding Probe
By William Davison
Bloomberg (Addis Ababa) – Ethiopia’s government said it won’t cooperate with a probe into whether the World Bank violated its own policies by funding a program in which thousands of people were allegedly relocated to make way for agriculture investors.
Ethnic Anuak people in Ethiopia’s southwestern Gambella region and rights groups including Human Rights Watch last year accused the Washington-based lender of funding a program overseen by soldiers to forcibly resettle 45,000 households. The Inspection Panel of the World Bank, an independent complaints mechanism, began an investigation in October into the allegations, which donors and the government have denied.
“We are not going to cooperate with the Inspection Panel,” Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said in a phone interview on May 22. “To an extent that there’s a need for cooperation, it’s not going to be with the Inspection Panel, but with the World Bank”
Ethiopia, Africa’s most-populous nation after Nigeria, has made 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) of land available to agriculture companies. Investors include Karuturi Global Ltd. (KARG) of India, the world’s largest rose grower, and companies owned by Saudi billionaire Mohamed al-Amoudi.
There is a “plausible link” between the Promoting Basic Services program, partly funded by the bank to pay the salaries of local government workers, and a resettlement process also known as villagization in Gambella, the panel said in a Nov. 19 report obtained by Bloomberg News. The World Bank confirmed the authenticity of the report.
The concurrent implementation of PBS and the resettlement program may raise issues of “potential serious non-compliance with bank policy,” according to the report.
“From a development perspective, the two programs depend on each other, and may mutually influence the results of the other,” the panel said.
Human Rights Watch, based in New York, made similar allegations about the resettlement program in a January 2012 report. Those findings and the Inspection Panel process are part of a “propaganda campaign being waged against the government,” Getachew said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa. “It’s not a World Bank inspection panel, it’s a panel that likes to impose its mostly fictitious findings on the decision-making process of the World Bank.”
About 35,000 households voluntarily moved over the past three years in Gambella and now have better access to public services and are growing more food, State Minister of Federal Affairs Omod Obang Olum said in a May 15 interview. Read More