Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network
Mar. 31 (GIN) – The World Bank, blamed for the devastation of thousands of lives in developing countries through the promotion of now discredited “structural adjustment” policies, is currently advocating land policies which benefit corporations over the world’s poorest people – namely farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities.
Many of these affected groups are essential food producers for the entire planet, according to the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank in Oakland, California, which spotlights the negative effect of “land grabs” in its reports.
This week, a campaign unveiled by the Oakland Institute and other groups, plans to hold the World Bank accountable for its role “in the rampant theft of land and resources” from the world’s poorest people.
“The World Bank is facilitating land grabs and sowing poverty by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals,” said Anuradha Mittal, the Institute’s executive director.
Through its “Doing Business” rankings, the World Bank scores countries according to how Washington officials perceive the “ease of doing business” there. But what the World Bank considers beneficial for foreign business is very often the exact opposite for existing farmers and herders.
Other groups supporting the campaign are CICODEB of Senegal, Green Scenery of Sierra Leone and CNOP of Mali.
The results of the new Bank strategy have already been devastating. Sierra Leone has taken 20 percent of its arable land from rural populations and leased it to foreign sugar cane and palm oil producers. And in Liberia, British, Malaysian, and Indonesian palm-oil giants have secured long-term leases for over 1.5 million acres of land formerly held by local communities.
Now, with funding from the Bill Gates Foundation, the Bank is introducing a new program called “Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture.” Its rankings are expected to enable further land grabbing around the world.
“We’re standing up with farmers, herders, and indigenous peoples of the developing world who are being steamrolled by the World Bank’s pro-corporate agenda,” added Mittal. “Initiatives like the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ rankings encourage governments to steal from the poor in order to give to the rich. That must end.”
Oakland Institute’s latest report, Willful Blindness” can be found on their website: http://www.oaklandinstitute.