The Common Good
September-October 2000

World Bank Says 'Oops' on Past Projects, Okays New Pipeline

by Ryan Beiler | September-October 2000

It’s not just civil wars, AIDS, or other diseases that have brought suffering to
sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades.

It’s not just civil wars, AIDS, or other diseases that have brought suffering to sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades. A World Bank report released in June admits that the institution wasted billions of dollars on ill-conceived projects that left nations "project rich and cash poor."

Just five days after releasing the report, the bank approved $193 million in loans for a controversial oil project that will drill 300 oil wells in Chad and build a pipeline through Cameroon to the Atlantic Ocean. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and other corporations likely will reap a $28 billion profit on the project over the next 20 years. The government of Chad is projected to earn $1 billion to $2 billion, Cameroon $500 million.

The World Bank claims that the project will help "the poor, the vulnerable, and the environment," but Delphine Djiraibe, a spokesperson for a Chad human rights group, believes otherwise. "Under the constant threat of brutal government repression," Djiraibe said, "it is highly unlikely that the citizens of Chad will reap any benefits from the World Bank’s proposed oil pipeline if it goes forward now, and, clearly, they stand to be harmed if they try to voice their concerns." In addition to the risk of toxic spills, environmentalists worry that construction roads would open the nation’s rainforests to poaching and illegal logging.

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