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20 Jun 2016

Sasha Chavkin, in Huffington Post

Tanzania: World Bank waives protection for indigenous communities, leaving them vulnerable to eviction by agribusinesses

"World Bank Allows Tanzania To Sidestep Rule Protecting Indigenous Groups"

A loophole in the World Bank’s policy protecting indigenous communities could allow governments around the world to displace locals in the path of agricultural development without restoring their livelihoods.

Last year, after fierce protests from human rights groups, the World Bank retreated from a proposal that would have allowed its borrowers to sidestep its rules for protecting indigenous communities. Now the World Bank’s board has granted a massive agribusiness project in East Africa a waiver that exempts it from following the bank’s Indigenous Peoples Policy—sparking fears that the development lender is making an end run to resurrect a policy that it abandoned in public. “It seems like a back door opt-out clause,” said Nadia Daar, a policy advisor for Oxfam International who specializes in the World Bank. “We’re concerned that this is setting a precedent.”…

 At issue is a $70 million World Bank loan for the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, or SAGCOT, a Tanzanian government initiative designed to encourage foreign investment in commercial agriculture. Some of the fertile agricultural lands that SAGCOT is transferring to investors are being cleared by evictions of cattle herders in the Barabaig, Maasai and other indigenous communities.