DRC: Indigenous peoples challenge World Bank EESRSP programme

Excerpt from "Request submitted to the World Bank Inspection Panel" by Indigenous Pygmy Organizations and Pygmy Support Organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (October 2005): "...We have learned of the submission, in the near future, to the World Bank’s Board of Executive
Directors of a new project entitled, “Transitional Support for Economic Recovery Credit”, which should include a “forestry governance” component.
To date, while we have not had access to the details of this component, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight in this request the risks and issues associated with this project, and with any other forest-related projects that may soon be submitted to the Board of Executive Directors. If such a project were to once again be approved as a credit that fails to implement the Bank’s
safeguard policies and procedures, and if this credit were to be disbursed without prior consideration of the interests of the indigenous peoples, without assessing the impact that it could have on both the environment and the inhabitants of the forests in the DRC, the World Bank would run the risk of further marginalizing the indigenous peoples, thereby compounding errors
committed in the past, as was the case in Cameroon, reinforcing the industrial approach outlined in the Forest Code, and consequently, exacerbating the threats that the Congolese legislative framework poses to the rights and survival of the indigenous peoples....III. World Bank failures and negligence within the framework of the EESRSP - Failure to implement Operational Directive 4.20
The World Bank decided that Operational Directive 4.20 on Indigenous Peoples would not apply to EESRSP activities, by specifying that “the Project is not supposed to include activities for areas inhabited by indigenous peoples.”..The Bank’s rationale is inconsistent with the prevailing situation. The Pygmies, who are the first inhabitants of the region, have for centuries, and even millennia,
inhabited and moved around in the forests in the Equateur and Orientale provinces. These indigenous Pygmy peoples are the “people of the forest.” Their existence, survival, cultural identity, and traditional knowledge are intimately linked to the forest, their element and life source which they revere..."

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