World Bank admits flaws in resettlement practices

WASHINGTON: The World Bank said Wednesday it would reform the way it handles the resettlement of people moved to make way for development projects, saying internal reviews have revealed significant flaws.

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“We took a hard look at ourselves on resettlement and what we found caused me deep concern,” said  World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a statement.

The global development lender has been sharply criticized by nongovernmental organizations like Oxfam, Amnesty International and Greenpeace, for failures to protect human rights and the environment.

Kim said the major problems uncovered were inadequate oversight of projects involving resettlement, weak implementation of the plans and the lack of strong tracking systems to ensure Bank policies were being followed.

“We must and will do better,” he said.

Three reports, which reviewed World Bank projects involving resettlement over two decades, found there was often poor or no documentation of the projects.

The Bank gave no details of the flawed projects, but part of the review documentation pointed to an urban transport project in Mumbai, a gas pipeline project in western Africa and a coastal project in Albania.

Resettlement projects typically result in the loss of homes, livelihoods and businesses, and potentially lowering the standard of living of the displaced persons.

The World Bank said some of the reforms to past practices were already underway, including a systematic risk management framework and improved accreditation of specialist staff.

It said that all the lender’s social specialists are now part of a single group, and all its environmental specialists are in a single practice, to streamline operations, and that a system of checks and balances has been set up.

“Our objective is to have the same level of scrutiny and attention all along the life cycle of our projects and in particular during the implementation phase,” it said. – AFP

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World Bank admits flaws in resettlement practices

by Azhar Khan