A Big Idea for Aiding Africa –– Think Small

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
For too long, the World Bank has invested in grandiose projects that do little or nothing to help the poor. It’s time for its leaders to abandon the grand vision and embrace a down–to–earth approach. AS THE WORLD’S financial leaders gather in Washington this weekend for the annual meetings of the World Bank, help for Africa will be high on their agenda. Paul Wolfowitz, the bank’s president, has declared Africa and its poorest people to be his top priority. And the decision at the G–8 summit in July to make the bank the main administrator of funds committed to Africa adds weight to

Why Nam Theun 2 Will Not Help the Poor in Laos

Thursday, March 31, 2005
World Bank support for Nam Theun 2 is justified only if the project will help to reduce poverty in Laos. Yet there are no guarantees that the revenue from Nam Theun 2 will be used for poverty alleviation, nor that the project’s significant impacts on local communities and on the environment can be successfully managed.The negative track record of other dam projects in Laos and the government’s failure to transparently manage its revenues and respect the rights of its people provide a strong indication that the costs of Nam Theun 2 will dramatically outweigh any potential benefits. World Ba

Future in Doubt: Reviewing Dam Builder’s Efforts to Restore River-based Livelihoods in Laos

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
David Blake, who was contracted by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company to review the company’s mitigation and compensation program, shares some of the review panel’s findings and his outlook on mitigating the impacts of Theun-Hinboun in World Rivers Review, February 2005. For the past four years, the Lao–based Theun–Hinboun Power Company has invested significant resources to mitigate and compensate for the impacts of the Theun–Hinboun hydropower project in central Laos. While the company has made "good progress," according to a third–party review panel, there are serious concerns over

Nam Theun 2 Studies Miss the Boat

Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Project Documents Mask Flaws in World Bank Project A series of technical reviews by independent experts for the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project in Laos has revealed serious flaws in the project’s environmental impact assessment and social development plan – flaws which call into question the project’s viability and scale of its impacts.Reviewers note that the project documents lack critical analysis, data and information, and the project’s plans for compensating affected villagers have a high likelihood of failure. The US$1.3 billion Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project would forcibly displac

World Bank, ADB Appeal for Blind Faith While Turning Back on Problems With Lao Dams

Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Over the last month, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) laid out their case for why the international community should support the Nam Theun 2 Dam in Laos. They argue the project is one of the country's best hopes for development. They claim Nam Theun 2 will reduce poverty, impacts will be mitigated, and a critical nature reserve will be protected. Yet a new internal ADB report on a similar but much smaller dam in Laos raises serious doubts about such claims. When the Nam Leuk Dam was completed 4 years ago, the Bank painted a similar picture and said the project would be environme

From the Swiss Alps to the Hilltops of Manali

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
By Peter Bosshard Originally published in Foreign Eye column, Tehelka Magazine, December 2004 Most Indian visitors who step outside Zurich airport will be struck by how different Switzerland is: the clean sidewalks. The trains that run on time. The bland food. The girls in skimpy dresses. Likewise, I always find myself overwhelmed by foreign impressions when I return to India. The beautiful colors. The deafening noise. The elephants making their way through Delhi’s rush-hour traffic. The poor contract laborers from Bihar huddled together in a crowded train compartment. My last t

The Lack of International Competitive Bidding in the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project

Monday, November 1, 2004
Nam Theun 2 is a hydropower project in Lao PDR with a proposed capacity of 1,070 megawatts. The project is currently the largest and most controversial hydropower project in the pipeline of the World Bank. Other financial institutions that are considering support for the project include the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank, the export credit agencies of Canada, France, Norway and Sweden, and French development finance institutions. A consortium of nine international and 17 Thai banks is in the process of being appointed. Nam Theun 2 is expected t

Sharing the South African Experience

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Presented at the WCD Launch in Uganda I work with International Rivers Network, and was invited today to observe this gathering here in Uganda. International Rivers has been working for 20 years with NGOs and dam affected communities in the South to amplify the voices of those who bear the true cost of dams. International Rivers is not out to stop development. Rather, we work with local groups to ensure that development planning includes the voices of civil society and affected communities, which results in more sustainable, better–planned projects that share risks and benefits across societ

The World Bank’s International Technical Workshops on Nam Theun 2: Civil Society Summary

Friday, October 1, 2004
In late August 2004, the World Bank launched its international "technical workshops" with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Nam Theun Power Corporation (NTPC) and the Government of Laos (GOL) on the proposed Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos. Workshops were held over two weeks in Bangkok, Tokyo, Paris, and Washington, DC. Well in advance of these workshops, civil society organizations noted that this process did not constitute a credible consultation, as key project documents and analyses had not been made available or were not provided to allow sufficient time for review. There was little advance notic

NGO Concerns on the Use of National Safeguard Systems in World Bank Projects

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
A Critique of the World Bank Paper, Issues in Using Country Systems in Bank Operations, August 23, 2004


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