The Moral Bankruptcy of the World Bank in Ethiopia

Ethiopia Villagization, Land Grabbing (Spooner)

#Ethiopian government forcibly moving indigenous people in Gambella from their homes [#Villagization @WorldBank]

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

The moral bankruptcy of the World Bank in Ethiopia

Ethiopians have been the object of a cruel bureaucratic joke by the World Bank. Last week, an 81-page official investigative report surfaced on line showing World Bank bureaucrats in Ethiopia have been playing  “Deception Games” of displacement, deracination, forced resettlement and a kinder and gentler form of ethnic cleansing  in the Gambella region of Western Ethiopia. Tens of thousands of Anuaks in Gambella have been removed illegally and in violation of policy from their ancestral homelands and left high and dry and twisting in the wind, courtesy and cash of the World Bank!

For years, the fat cat World Bank bureaucrats and their ilk in Ethiopia have categorically denied allegations of any links  between the so-called “Protection of Basic Services Project” (PBS) and the “villagization” program undertaken by the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (T-TPLF). (The term “villagization” is a euphemism for “civilization” of the Anuak to live in modern villages by abandoning their “primitive” lifestyles.)  The Bank has consistently deflected criticism by claiming that it “had not encountered any evidence of human rights abuses” in its PBS programs in Gambella.

Stonewalling, sandbagging, mendacity and duplicity have been the preferred strategies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the U.K’s Development for International Development and the so-called Development Assistance Group in Ethiopia  (comprising of  27 bilateral and multilateral development agencies providing assistance to Ethiopia) when it comes to accountability for their complicity in crimes against humanity in Ethiopia. Sir Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the UK parliament’s international development committee, had the audacity to declare in March 2013 that “allegations against villagisation are unsubstantiated” and that “UK programme is delivering a very good result.”

To paraphrase Abe Lincoln’s saying, “The World Bank and the gang of poverty pimps known as the “Development Assistance Group” (DAG) can fool all Ethiopians some of the time, and some Ethiopians all the time, but they can’t fool all Ethiopians all the time.” But there is no denying that because of the Deception Games played by these leeches, “Ethiopians have been had! They been took! They been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!”, to paraphrase Malcom X. Ethiopianshave been cruelly punked and pranked by the mighty, mighty World Bank.

So spoke the “Inspection Panel” (IP), the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism. The IP, of course, said it in the sanitized, detached and impersonal language of  “bureaucratise”.  They would never use the impassioned and fiery language of an outraged human rights advocate who is so perplexed in the extreme that he must speak out and loudly in the only language he knows, Moral Outrage. “Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,/ Till we can clear these ambiguities…”, wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.  I need not seal up my outrage because the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel has cleared all of the ambiguities for me!

In September 2012, two dozen or so Ethiopian refugees from the Gambella Region of Western Ethiopia requested an investigation by the World Bank alleging that they had been forced off their land, “villagized”  and their ancestral lands handed over to land grabbers (investors). In a letter dated September 24, 2012, the unnamed Anuak refugees alleged that they have been severely harmed by the World Bank-financed “Ethiopia Protection of Basic Services Project (PBS)” which directly supported the “Ethiopian Government’s Villagization Program in Gambella Region.” Specifically,

  1. “Through the PBS program, the Anuak Indigenous People are being forcibly transferred from their fertile ancestral land, which is then being leased to investors.”
  2. “The Anuak have been relocated to infertile land, which is unsuitable for farming, and forced to build new villages there.”
  3. “Mass evictions have been carried out under the pretext of providing better services and improving the livelihoods of the communities. However, once they moved to the new sites, they found not only unfertile land, but also no schools, clinics, wells or other basic services.”
  4. “[The Anuak] were forced to abandon their crops just before harvest and were not given any food assistance from the government during the move, which left many relocated families facing hunger. Some vulnerable people and children died from starvation as a result of the Villagization program.
  5. “Government workers in the woredas, whose salaries are paid by the PBS project, have been forced to implement this program.
  6. “Those farmers who opposed the relocation, and government workers who refused to implement the program, including the Requesters and/or their relatives, have been targeted with arrest, beating, torture and killing.
  7. “The Requesters believe that these harms have resulted from World Bank non-compliance with its operational policies and procedures.”

In 2012, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a 115-page report entitled, “ ‘WAITING HERE FOR DEATH’: Displacement and ‘Villagization’ in Ethiopia’s  Gambella Region”. That Report supported and vastly expanded on the Anuak allegations and documented acts and omissions of the various members of the Development Assistance Group in Ethiopia in the “villagization” fiasco. The HRW report concluded:

The Ethiopian government is forcibly moving tens of thousands of indigenous people in the western Gambella region from their homes to new villages under its villagization” program. These population transfers are being carried out with no meaningful consultation and no compensation. Despite government promises to provide basic resources and infrastructure, the new villages have inadequate food, agricultural support, and health and education facilities. Relocations have been marked by threats and assaults, and arbitrary arrest for those who resist the move. The state security forces enforcing the population transfers have been implicated in at least 20 rapes in the past year. Fear and intimidation are widespread among affected populations.

The Truth about the World Bank’s crimes against humanity in Ethiopia

The World Bank’s Inspection Panel undertook an investigation of the Anuak complaint and submitted its “OFFICIAL USE ONLY” report dated November 21, 2014, to the World Bank President, Executive Directors, Department Heads and others. The limited circulation “Investigative Report” mysteriously surfaced online for the whole world to find out the scope of dereliction of duty and depravity of the World Bank managers in Ethiopia and their bosses elsewhere.

The IP Report entitled  “Ethiopia: Promoting Basic Services Phase III Project (P128891)” enumerated findings that are absolutely shocking to the conscience. Using boldface print to underscore the gravity of its findings, the IP stated [I have used Roman numerals to identify specific findings and related particularized commentary below):

[Note to the reader: I ask my readers to try and read the following findings as stated in the IP’s Report. It is likely that most readers will find the bureaucratic language confusing and hard to understand. I offer an “English translation” immediately following the official statement of findings.] 

[I] … [T]he Panel finds that Management did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent roll-out of the villagization program in four PBS III regions. The Panel finds that Management’s approach did not meet the standards of a systematic or holistic assessment of risks, as called for in the Operational Risk Assessment Framework (ORAF) Guidance, which is aimed among other objectives at identifying adequate risk management measures for affected communities. The Panel finds these omissions in non-compliance with OMS 2.20 on Project Appraisal. 

[II] … It is the view of the Panel that the lack of recognition and analysis during appraisal of the operational interface between PBS III and CDP as required by the ORAF and described above, meant that the resulting risks were not adequately taken into account, neither were they properly managed and mitigated during PBS III implementation. 

[III] … The Panel finds that, barring the triggering of OP 4.10, Management should have adopted the “functional equivalence” approach in the design of PBS III… The Panel notes that livelihoods, well-being and access to basic services, which are closely tied to the Anuak’s access to land and natural resources was not taken into account in the design of PBS III, in non-compliance with OP 4.10. 

[IV] … The Panel finds that, in accordance with Bank Policies, the operational interface between CDP and PBS should have been taken into account at the PBS project level, both during the appraisal and implementation phases, especially in a region such as Gambella  where 60% of households, which are also PBS beneficiaries, were resettled as part of the Government’s CDP. The Panel finds that Management’s approach has not enabled PBS to mitigate or manage the harms described in the Request for Inspection with respect to access and quality of basic services in the agricultural sector and livelihoods of affected people in Gambella. 

[V]… Since PBS III began implementation, three “Joint Review and Implementation Support” (JRIS) missions were undertaken, but the resulting reports are silent on the issues noted above. The Panel finds that this is not consistent with the supervision provisions of the Investment Lending Policy (OP/BP 10.00). 

[VI]… The Panel finds that Management did not comply with the requirements of OMS 2.20 and OP/BP 10.02 in the design and appraisal of PBS III. The Panel notes that the Bank’s assertion that the funds can be tracked at the woreda level cannot be sustained. 

[VII] … The Panel finds that, since PDO results indicators that directly address fiduciary risks were inadequate in the initial planning, and subsequently have not been adjusted, the supervision of those risks is not in compliance with Bank policy OP/BP 10.00.

Translation of the Inspection Panel’s Report in simple English 

The language of bureaucrats is “bureaucratese” or “officialese”.  It is a special language filled with abstractions, jargon, buzzwords, fuzzwords, doublespeak, euphemisms, circumlocutions, obfuscations and acronyms. “Bureaucratese” is about vagueness, not clarity or directness. Bureaucratic reports are often stilted, convoluted, and often indecipherable.

Simply stated, the accomplished practitioner of “bureaucratese” would never call a spade a spade. S/he would describe a spade as an implement with a sharp-edged, typically rectangular, metal blade riveted or pressure fitted into an elongated wooden or hardened plastic handle and used for, among other things, spreading manure; incidentally, an activity most bureaucrats are expert at doing.

[Some may find the IP’s Report and its findings a prime example of “bureaucratese”.  Below is my “English translation” of the bureaucratese in the Inspection Panel’s findings. Reference is made to the findings of the Inspection Panel’s findings above per Roman numerals.]

[I]. The World Bank management in Ethiopia and the overseers elsewhere implemented   the  PBS program with a devil-may-care attitude.  The managers in Ethiopia were basically engaged in window dressing. They were going through the motions of implementing the program and putting on a show. The Bank’s managers did not give a rat’s ass about the effects or impact of the villagization program on the people of Gambella. They did not even look at their official policies and guidelines in assessing the risk of harmful impact on the Anuak people purportedly served by the PBS. By undertaking “concurrent rollout of the villagization program in four regions”, the mangers bit more than they can chew. By failing to comply with required Bank policies set forth in OMS 2.20 on Project Appraisal, the managers were one or more of the following: incompetent, lazy-ass, indifferent, reckless, callous, uncaring, unconcerned and morally and professionally depraved. They should get the boot right in their fat behinds!

[II]. The World Bank in-country program managers’ cluelessness about their responsibilities, their depraved indifference and lack of professional integrity is principally responsible for ignoring known and reasonably articulable and predictable risks of harm to the Anuak  communities impacted by the PBS program. Once the harm became manifest and the Bank’s managers knew they had really screwed up things badly, they could not manage their mistakes or take corrective action because they were clueless about what they needed to do. So, they sat around twiddling their thumbs hoping no one will find out the big mess they made or expose their dereliction of duty, laughable ineptitude, indolence, lethargy and shiftlessness.

[III]. Even though the World Bank managers were clueless or willfully ignorant of the Bank’s OP 4.10 [which sets guidelines and policies to ensure the Bank’s programs’ fully respect the dignity, human rights, economies, and cultures], they could have still taken corrective action to improve the situation and minimize the harm on the Anuak communities by adopting a “functional equivalence” approach [which requires the managers to consult and seek broad community support from communities potentially impacted by the program, facilitating  culturally appropriate benefit sharing, processes for complaints and dispute resolution and generally making sure indigenous peoples do not get the shaft.] Because of the failure of the Bank’s managers to follow standard policies or parallel guidelines of the Bank, the Anuak people of Gambella suffered harm which, among other things,  deprived them of their rightful access to their ancestral lands and vital natural resources and inflicted upon them needless suffering.

[IV].  The World Bank managers in Ethiopia cannot chew gum and walk at the same time. Their right hand does not know what their left hand is doing. The World Bank’s Community Development Project seeks to provide sustainable ways of improving the living conditions and the economic status of disadvantaged communities by focusing on social and infrastructure development and improve access to basic education, health, and social services. PBS III in Gambella seeks to “strengthen the capacity, transparency, accountability and financial management of sub-national governments to provide such basic services as education, health, agriculture, water supply and sanitation and rural roads. Because the Bank’s mangers were sitting on their duffs and not doing their job of monitoring and coordinating the two programs, the people of  Gambella were harmed in the ways the Anuak complainants alleged. Simply stated, as a result of the Bank managers’ dereliction of duty, the Anuak people were relocated to infertile land, forced to build new villages without schools, clinics, wells or other basic services. Most importantly, “Some vulnerable Anuak people and children died from starvation as a result of the Villagization program.” Others who opposed the forced relocation of the Anuak under the World Bank program “have been targeted with arrest, beating, torture and killing.” It seems like Pompei burning and Nero fiddling, except it is Gambella and the World Bank.

There is blood on the hands of the World Bank managers in Ethiopia!

[V]. There is a conspiracy of silence to cover up the crimes against humanity committed against the Anuak people in Ethiopia with the complicity of the World Bank itself. The “main objective of the [JRIS] Mission is to review implementation progress on all components of the project and provide implementation support.” The World Bank gave $600 million for PBS III in September 2012. Three JRIS reviews were done since PBS III was implemented and all three “are silent on the issues” of harm to the Anuak people. The World Bank’s “Investment Lending Policy (OP/BP 10.00)” provides detailed and elaborate policies, procedures and instructions with “particular attention to reviewing the monitoring by the Borrower or Project Participant(s) of the performance of the Project and compliance with contractual undertakings.”  The World Bank managers were asleep at the switch in their duties or willfully ignorant of the blatant and flagrant violations of the Bank’s policies with respect to investment lending and monitoring.

[VI]. The World Bank managers in Ethiopia lied through their teeth, told tall tales when they said the Bank’s money could be tracked at the woreda level.  The World Bank’s OMS 2.20 requires the Bank, among other things, to ensure that financed activities are consistent with a borrower’s international agreements regarding its environment and the health and well-being of its citizens.” OP/BP 10.02 requires the Bank “during project implementation, [to have its] financial management staff review the continuing adequacy of the financial management arrangements.”

The Bank’s managers in Ethiopia were clueless of or willfully indifferent to these important responsibilities. The “Woredas” constitute the third level (after regions and zones) in the country’s “decentralized administrative structure”. The “Woredas” are a well-known den of corruption. It is the “Woreda Councils” that delivered a 99.6 percent electoral victory to the T-TPLF in 2010. Yet, the World Bank managers in Ethiopia have opted to abdicate their own duties and professionalism and blindly rely on the integrity and financial skills of benighted Woreda officials to fulfill their own fiduciary responsibilities. (What were they thinking? Strike that question!)

[VII]. [This finding is the most interesting and astounding one from the standpoint of financial accountability.]  The World Bank’s managers in Ethiopia made no effort to protect the Bank’s money from corruption. That is what the phrase “inadequate initial planning to address fiduciary risks” means. The World Bank has policies (OP/BP 10.00) and analytical tools (Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA)) to safeguard against corruption in recipient states. Even though these policies and tools do not comprehensively address corruption risks, it is generally considered that planning, monitoring and conducting such assessments has a positive impact on the recipient countries. The World Bank mangers in Ethiopia dropped the ball big time on safeguarding against “fiduciary risks” (corruption) in PBS III!

I am no stranger to the machinations of the World Bank and the Unholy Alliance of International Poverty Pimps known as the Under- “Development Assistance Group.” I have studied their reports and scrutinized their policies, operational guidelines, manuals, public statements and other publications for quite some time now. I can say I have some general  familiarity with their policies, practices and activities in Ethiopia.

I imagine I am probably the only person (other than the authors) who has read and re-read multiple times the World Bank’s  417-page report “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia”. In fact, I have read that report so many times that I am  embarrassed to admit the actual number in public.  I used that report to write so many commentaries on corruption in various sectors of the Ethiopian economy and to criticize the Empire of Corruption of the T-TPLF.

I will admit that corruption report was a breath of fresh air. I have not seen a World Bank report of corruption of such breadth and depth on any other country. If one exists, I would like to know. I was inspired and even grateful to the World Bank for doing right by the people of Ethiopia for a change and telling the truth about the Empire of Corruption built and maintained by the T-TPLF. I really believed “Diagnosing Corruption” heralded a new era of transparency and accountability at the World Bank.

I am not accusing all World Bank employees in Ethiopia or others elsewhere who oversee the Bank’s Programs in that country. There are some genuine World Bank professionals who tell the truth about Ethiopia come hell or high water. Wolfgang Fengler, a lead economist for the World Bank, is one such individual.  In 2011 when the late Meles Zenawi was trying to deny occurrences of famine and food shortages in the country, Fengler called him out. Fengler said, “The [famine] crisis [in the Horn] is man made. Droughts have occurred over and again, but you need bad policy making for that to lead to a famine.” In other words, it is bad governance that is at the core of the famine problem in Ethiopia, not drought. That was a rare and refreshing departure from the all-too-common bureaucratic mumbo jumbo about the causes of famine often spouted by international aid agencies and multilateral organizations.

Then there are tall tale tellers like Guang Zhe Chen, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.   In December 2012, Chen said, “Two and a half million people in Ethiopia have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years as a result of strong economic growth, bringing the poverty rate down from 38.7 percent to 29.6 percent between 2004/05 and 2010/11 … The Government target to reduce poverty to 22.2 percent by 2014/15 is ambitious but attainable.

It is 2015 now! Is poverty reduced by 22.2 percent in Ethiopia!? 

I get it! I really do. The World Bank guys have to make the T-TPLF look good to make themselves look good. If they tell the truth about the T-TPLF, they will also be tattletaling on themselves. They don’t want to be snitches so they have (un)willingly become part of a conspiracy of silence to protect the T-TPLF.  Instead of telling the truth about the T-TPLF’s corruption, mismanagement of the economy and crimes against humanity in Gambella, they tell tall tales and fairy tales about preposterous and fictional economic growth in Ethiopia.

In its December  2012 report, the World Bank claimed, “Over the past decade, the Ethiopian economy has been growing at twice the rate of the Africa region, averaging, 10.6 percent GDP growth per year between 2004 and 2011 compared to 5.2 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa,  according to a new report by the World Bank.”

Of course, the World Bank knows that is a crock of _ _ _ T! I have shown beyond any doubt that the stratospheric claims of GDP growth and the rest of the claims were based on figures cooked up in Meles Zenawi’s Statistics Office and quietly slipped to the World Bank, the IMF and others to parrot to the rest of the world and ultimately show Meles to be the Second Coming.  I challenge the World Bank or anyone to disprove my analysis in my commentary “The Voodoo Economics of Meles Zenawi”.

Dambissa Moyo, author of Dead Aid said,  “… World Bank research has shown that 85 percent of development aid was used for other than the intended purpose. Donor countries are propping up the most corrupt regimes. From 1980 until 1996, 72 percent of World Bank aid went to countries that did not abide by the rules. The need for donor countries to just keep on giving appears to be insatiable.

The November 2014 Inspection Panel’s Report on Ethiopia discussed herein provides fresh and incontrovertible evidence in support of Moyo’s claim. How little things have changed over three decades?!

The World Bank’s hypocrisy in Ethiopia

The World Bank proclaims its mission is to “strive to end extreme poverty at the global level within a generation” and promote “shared prosperity”. The  Bank purportedly seeks to accomplish this mission in Ethiopia through its “Ethiopia Protection of Basic Services Project (BPS).”  According to the World Bank, the BPS in Ethiopia has four components: 1) “maintain delivery of basic services provided by regional and local governments”, 2) “provide predictable financing for critical inputs for the primary health service delivery subprogram”; 3) “supports activities at the Regional and city Administration, Woreda and sub- Woreda levels to significantly enhance transparency around public budget procedures and foster broad engagement and citizen representation on public budget processes and public service delivery”; and 4) promote “capacity building for and piloting of selected approaches to strengthen the voice of citizens and civil society organizations and also builds the capacity of citizens to engage in public budgeting processes. The World Bank has been supporting  its PBS program in Ethiopia since May 2006 with a commitment of more than $2bn. In the last two years, the Bank has spent a cool USD$600 million.

The truth of the matter is that the World Bank’s managers have failed miserably in their mission. They have failed to “carry out the required full risk analysis to manage the concurrent roll-out of the villagization program in four PBS III regions.”  They have failed to follow or comply with the Bank’s operational policies and guidelines. They have failed to interact or consult with the Anuak communities adversely impacted by the Banks’ programs.  They are clueless about the “operational interface between PBS III and CDP as required by the Operational Risk Assessment Framework (ORAF).” They do not give a rat’s behind about “livelihoods, well-being and access to basic services, which are closely tied to the Anuak’s access to land and natural resources.” In their  “Joint Review and Implementation Support” (JRIS) reports, they sugarcoat, finesse and massage facts or outright bury unfavorable facts to avoid transparency and evade accountability. They don’t do much planning, monitoring or supervision of the Bank’s program. They have abdicated their professional duties and obligations and transferred their fiduciary duties to corrupt woreda officials to ensure hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent properly. I am just curious: What do the World Bank managers in Ethiopia do all day, anyway?

For crying out loud, what kind of a mickey mouse operation is the World Bank running in Ethiopia? 

In December 2013, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim declared, “In the developing world, corruption is public enemy number one…  We will never tolerate corruption, and I pledge to do all in our power to build upon our strong fight against it…  Every dollar that a corrupt official or a corrupt business person puts in their pocket is a dollar stolen from a pregnant woman who needs health care; or from a girl or a boy who deserves an education; or from communities that need water, roads, and schools. Every dollar is critical if we are to reach our goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity.”

I wish Kim would visit my Anuak brothers and sisters in Gambella in 2015 and tell them how many schools, hospitals, clinics, roads and water wells his Bank’s USD$600 million has provided the people of Gambella.

For crying out loud, could someone tell me if there anyone minding the World Bank store in Addis Ababa?

(To be continued…)

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