FPP letter to the President of the World Bank, expressing concern at the World Bank’s failures in applying Operational Directive 4.20 in Cameroon

FPP letter to the President of the World Bank, expressing concern at the World Bank’s failures in applying Operational Directive 4.20 in Cameroon

James Wolfensohn, Esq. President The World Bank 1818 H Street NW Washington, DC 20433 USA

Dear Mr. Wolfensohn,

First we would like to express our warm appreciation for the support you voiced for the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights at the Greenpeace Business Lecture last week.  We were, however, somewhat taken aback by your assertion that no indigenous peoples had been negatively impacted by World Bank projects ‘on your watch’. Regrettably this is far from the case and we surmise that you are being shielded from seeing the large number of appeals and letters being sent to you by ourselves and other civil society organisations, which are being dealt with by other World Bank staff. It is exactly because these problems persist that indigenous peoples are calling for strengthening of the World Bank’s draft policy on indigenous peoples, and reviews, such as the World Commission on Dams and the Extractive Industries Review, have advocated a rights-based approach and recommended both a stronger indigenous peoples policy and improved incentives to ensure that Bank staff adhere to this and other safeguards.  

Specifically, there is little doubt that indigenous forest peoples in Cameroon have been damaged by World Bank Projects during the past decade.  There is substantial evidence to show that indigenous Bakola, Bagyeli and Baka communities in Cameroon have suffered as a direct result of the World Bank’s failure to ensure proper application of OD 4.20 in its projects, especially during preparation and implementation of a deficient Indigenous Peoples Development Plan (IPDP). [1]   In Cameroon these problems directly result from World Bank investment in;

  1. the construction of the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline, which traverses Bakola and Bagyeli traditional lands; [2]
  2. the establishment of the Campo Ma’an Environmental Offset Project as part of the pipeline project, [3] which overlays Bagyeli hunting and gathering territories in Cameroon’s Ocean Department and;
  3. the establishment Boumba Bek-Nki and Lobéké National Parks, which overlay indigenous Baka hunting and gathering areas in Southeast Cameroon. [4]

The impacts on Bakola, Bagyeli and Baka communities due to these World Bank  supported projects are rooted in the loss of their lands, and rights, and this has continued to undermine indigenous communities’ livelihoods, resulting in their increasing poverty and social marginalisation in and around World Bank project areas in Cameroon.  The World Bank is liable for these impacts, unless it dedicates itself to full enforcement of a strong World Bank policy protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, and practical measures to address the serious gaps identified below.

1.   Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline Project

In South West Cameroon, the World Bank has so far failed to adequately consult with Bagyeli living on lands that the Chad-Cameroon pipeline traverses, even after repeated warning from NGOs and Bagyeli. [5]   The negative impacts of the resulting compensation programme [6] on the several thousand Bagyeli living in this area were predicted by Bagyeli themselves, and documented during pipeline construction. [7] Important impacts include:

  • land losses by Bagyeli families, due to a poorly designed individual compensation programme that did not compensate Bagyeli for their true losses, and which allowed others to claim compensation due to them;
  • increasing social divisions and Bagyeli social marginalisation caused by uneven resolution of Bagyeli compensation claims, and almost total marginalisation of Bagyeli from discussions over regional compensation programmes when other customary authorities were consulted;
  • reported rises in underage sexual abuse by oil pipeline workers and others, including, it is now alleged, of Bakola and Bagyeli girls being targeted by individuals involved; [8]
  • increasing competition over access to agricultural land between Bagyeli and other local communities, in the face of increasing pressure on the few fields that Bagyeli are still able to use, thereby increasing their poverty.

Another outcome of this project for Bagyeli is the deficient IPP [9] in which their communities have had no input.  The funds meant to pay for the IPP continue to be disbursed by the Foundation for Environment and Development in Cameroon (FEDEC) without the full and informed participation of indigenous Bagyeli, directly contrary to the World Bank’s own operational standards.  FEDEC, which is responsible for implementation of a consultative IPP by using the earnings from a $600,000 endowment provided by the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO), has totally failed to live up to its obligation to consult with communities as part of the IPP process. [10] Most of the FEDEC funds which were supposed to help Bagyeli are now being paid to organisations in which Bagyeli have no input, to fund projects over which Bagyeli communities have no control. [11]   The extraordinary acceptance by the Inspection Panel [12] that the Indigenous Peoples Plan was still unfinished, and could remain a “work in progress” only reinforces our impression of a complete absence in the World Bank of a commitment to adhere to OD 4.20, despite repeated pleas by communities to become more involved in this project. [13]

2.  Campo Ma’an Environmental Offset Project

The World Bank has so far failed to assess its impacts on indigenous Bagyeli communities of Campo Ma’an National Park (PNCM), which forms part of the environmental offset for the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline, [14] and which overlays their traditional hunting and gathering areas. [15] This park was established through direct support from the World Bank GEF, and is now partly funded by another, even larger FEDEC endowment from COTCO. [16]   It is set to receive new long-term World Bank funding. [17]   Hundreds of local Bagyeli communities are now banned from hunting and gathering in many forest areas upon which they have always relied, and their livelihoods are now being seriously threatened by this project.  So far they are totally marginalised from discussions over the management of the park. No IPDP has been prepared by the World Bank specifically for this project, but it will now fall under the Indigenous Peoples Development Plan to be implemented under the new Forestry and Environmental Sector Adjustment Credit (FESAC). [18]

3.  Boumba Bek-Nki and Lobéké National Parks

As in Campo Ma’an, the World Bank has so far failed to account fully for the rights of indigenous Baka living in and around Boumba Bek-Nki and Lobéké National Parks, which were established with direct support of the World Bank, [19] and which overlap the traditional lands of indigenous communities in a region where the rural population is up to 65% Baka. [20]   Although some community consultation during project preparation did lead to important changes to the project plan in favour of Baka’s controlled access and use in a small portion of Lobéké National Park, in both parks Baka lost access to many other traditional areas upon which their livelihoods have depended since time immemorial. [21] This is undermining their livelihoods, and enhancing their social marginalisation.  This project is about to receive new funding from the World Bank, [22] and will therefore fall within the scope of the planned IPDP. [23]

The World Bank Needs Strong Policies and Effective Implementation

The failure of World Bank operational staff to apply the spirit of OD4.20 in its projects in Cameroon is causing a decline in its credibility amongst indigenous communities and many field practitioners.  This is ironic, given the GEF’s lead role in promoting a new World Bank project to support Cameroon’s forest and environment sector through FESAC, [24] which will surely lead to greater pressure on indigenous forest communities through consolidation of Campo Ma’an and Boumba Bek-Nki National Parks, an extension of Cameroon’s total area covered by parks, and a general reorganisation of forest and conservation planning and administration.

We therefore call on you to help convince the World Bank Board to accept their direct responsibility for these impacts by ensuring full application of a strong policy which will help indigenous communities affected by their projects to secure their rights.

Most urgently, we encourage you to ensure that:

  1. FEDEC finally consults in an equitable and culturally appropriate manner with Bakola and Bagyeli communities in the pipeline zone of Cameroon over the content and form of the IPP, and that it agrees to provide direct funding to Bakola and Bagyeli-driven projects falling within the framework of a consultative IPP.  This will help to ensure that Bakola and Bagyeli are able to capture long-term benefits from the pipeline project, which will otherwise be lost to them, since currently, long-term agreements governing FEDEC expenditure for the IPP are being established with NGOs in which Bagyeli are not involved. [25]
  1. The World Bank conducts an urgent review of the current IPDP proposals for Cameroon [26] in order to assess their potential impacts on Bagyeli and Baka communities living in and around Campo Ma’an, Boumba Bek-Nki, and other national parks in Cameroon, and takes concrete measures to ensure that indigenous communities’ rights and wishes are taken into account in the demarcation and management of protected areas, ecosystems, and landscapes in Cameroon, in line with national commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity, [27] and strengthened international conservation standards [28] arising from the Durban World Parks Congress. [29]  

Quick action on these two areas will encourage indigenous communities in Cameroon to begin to believe that the World Bank is committed to their futures, and that it will begin to apply strong policies protecting their rights.

Yours faithfully,

John Nelson Policy Advisor

[1] Also known as an Indigenous People Plan, or IPP.

[2] Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project.  The World Bank. www.worldbank.org/afr/ccproj/ .

[3] COTCO (1999)  Environmental Management Plan. The Chad Cameroon Oil Pipeline Project.  Houston: COTCO/Esso Pipeline Company. 

[4] GEF (1995) Cameroon:  Biodiversity Conservation and Management.  Washington DC:  The World Bank.

[5] Griffiths, T and M Colchester (2000)  Indigenous Peoples, Forests and The World Bank:  Policies and Practice.  Workshop Report, Washington D.C, 9-10 May 2000. Forest Peoples Programme:  Moreton- in-Marsh.  Also see FPP Correspondence:  FEDEC Board, 15 May 2002; IAG:  July 11, 2002. 

[6]The compensation programme is described in COTCO (1999), op. cit.   

[7] Nelson, J, J Kenrick and D Jackson (2001) Report on a Consultation with Bagyeli Pygmy communities impacted by the Chad-Cameroon oil-pipeline project.  Moreton-in-Marsh:  Forest Peoples Programme.

[8] Ndobe, S and A Aboe (May 2004) Reflection on Self-Organisation and Management of Sustainable Livelihood Micro Projects by the Bagyeli People of Bipinid and Kribi Area.  Workshop Report Yaoundé and Bipindi:  FPP.

[9] See footnote 1.

[10] FEDEC (2002) www.fedec.org  is currently responsible for implementation of the IPP through a Community Development Facilitator.

[11] Although most of these projects claim to target Bagyeli, communities are almost totally marginalised in the definition, planning and implementation of IPP project elements.

[12]  Inspection Panel (May 8, 2003)  The Inpection Panel Investigation Report.  Cameroon:  Petroleum Development Pipeline Project and Petroleum Environmental Capacity Enhancement.  Corrigendum.  Washington DC:  The World Bank.

[13] As expressed by their representatives to Eminent Person Emil Salim during the EIR Review, and documented in: Nouah, J, J Gwodog, F Ndiomgbsw, A Noahmvogo, C Mbatsogo, B Tchouma and A Amougo (2003) Chad-Cameroon, pushed by the pipeline, IN: Tebtebba and the Forest Peoples Programme (2003) Extracting Promises:  Indigenous peoples, Extractive industries, and the World Bank.   Tebtebba Foundation:  Baguio City, and FPP:  Moreton-in-Marsh.

[14] Cotco, op. cit.  Als see The World Bank Operational Manual, Operational Policy on Natural Habitats,  OP 4.04.

[15] Owono, J (2003) Cameroon – Campo Ma’an.  IN Nelson, J and L Hossack,.  Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas in Africa:  from principles to practice.  FPP:  Moreton-in-Marsh and also Projet Promo Bagyeli  (January 2004)  Cartographie participative dans la partie nord du parc national de Campo Ma’an.  CED:  Yaoundé, and FPP:  Moreton-in-Marsh.  These maps are the product of collaborations between Bagyeli populations near Akom II in Nyamabande, Bissono, Mebia’a,  Nyabitande and Awomo, the Centre for Environment and Development, and Forest Peoples Project.

[16] COTCO, op. cit.

[17] GEF (April 5, 2004) GEF Council Work Program Submission for Cameroon 2004-2009:  Forestry and Environmental Sector Adjustment Credit (FESAC). 

[18] Op.cit.

[19] GEF (1995), op.cit.

[20] Ndameu (2001) Cameroon – Boumba Bek.  IN: Nelson and Hossack, op. cit;  Personal communication, sous-prefet of Moloundou.  In some areas their majority is estimated to reach 75%.

[21] FPP (2003)  From Principles to Practice.  Video CD of community testimony by Baka and Bagyeli community members.  English commentary and subtitles.

[22] GEF (2004) op.cit.

[23] République du Cameroun/MINEF (2003)  Etude sectorielle des impacts sociaux et environ mentaux du programme sectoriel forets et environnement.  Rapport principal.  Yaoundé : République du Cameroun.

[24] op. cit.

[25] This process is underway.  Bagyeli still have no representatives on the board of FEDEC.

[26] GEF, op. cit.  Also see National Participatory Development Programme (PNDP), which will also involve an IPDP, and joint recommendations from the Réseau Recherch Actions Concertées Pygmée (RACOPY) to the World Bank/Dan Aronson in Yaoundé, 24 October 2003.  See www.forestpeoples.org.

[27] Griffiths, J Lasimbang and M Farhan Ferrari (Feb 2004) The CBD COP 7 and related conferences/meetings, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 6-20 February, 2004.  Report on Protected Aeas.  See http://forespeoples.gn.apc.org/Briefings.

[28] IUCN- World Conservation Union/WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas/ WWF – Worldwide Fund for Nature (2000) Principles and guideline on protected areas and indigenous/traditional peoples.

[29] For the full texts see:  www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/wpc2003.