If this is development, you can keep it, 2002 (Cameroun – Chad)

On 6 June 2000, the World Bank gave its approval to one of the most controversial ventures in the history of the institution; the US$ 3.7 billion Chad Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project. 1 In July
2000, following the World Bank’s green light to the project, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approved an additional loan worth US$120 million. 2 The money will be used to support one of the largest private sector investments on the African continent; the development of 300 oil wells in Chad and the construction of a 1070 km pipeline to the Atlantic coast of Cameroon. Both the World Bank and the project sponsors have stressed the positive impact that the project will have on both countries by increasing government revenues that could be spent on poverty reduction measures.

International NGOs, but also major donor governments, have repeatedly warned that the project will have adverse impacts on local people and the environment. Partly as a response to this, the project sponsors produced a nineteen volume Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to address the environmental risks of this venture. To ensure that the project will comply with World Bank guidelines, and that it will benefit the poor in Chad and Cameroon, the World Bank appointed an International Advisory Group to oversee its implementation.

This report assesses the commitments made by the World Bank, the oil companies that together form the Consortium, and the governments of Chad and Cameroon to deal with the social and environmental
consequences of the project. It concludes that, a year after approval, the predictions of NGOs have proven to be correct; many publicly made promises and commitments have already been broken.

Despite some changes and complementary measures in design of the project, fundamental problems remain, calling into question its developmental merit. In the last section of the report, recommendations are made to increase damage control, so as to prevent some of the worst scenarios from happening. Experience has shown that rigid public scrutiny is indispensable to guarantee a minimum of protection for the affected local population.

As the report will show, the World Bank approval of the project in June 2000 was at best naive, and based on unrealistic or ill-informed assumptions. It furthermore calls into question the developmental approach that institutions like the World Bank are promoting, and suggests that current paradigms must be seriously reconsidered. For too long, the World Bank and IMF have
tried to foster rapid growth in developing countries by boosting exports of primary commodities – at the expense of the environment, human rights and sustainable development at a local level.

While the Chad Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project involves significant risks for the reputation of its investors, the ultimate risk, however, rests with the people of Chad and Cameroon, who will be the first to bear the negative consequences of this investment. Those who made the project possible by voting in favour of it will be ultimately held responsible for its negative consequences.

Donor governments in industrialised countries are therefore requested to take up their responsibility and provide solutions to the numerous problems and damages caused by the oil and pipeline project – presently and in the future.

Project together with Friends of the Earth International
Vrije Keyser: working with footage from non-professional filmmakers, camera, script, editing, interviews, training for non-experienced trainees