THE BLOG
07/10/2014 01:56 pm ET | Updated Sep 09, 2014

The World Bank Just Made Lagos' Poorest Poorer

On February 23rd, 2013 the Lagos state government of Nigeria, with the support of heavily armed police, demolished at least 266 structures that served as homes and businesses to make way for an urban project funded by the World Bank. At least 2237 households were destroyed and close to 9000 people were forcibly evicted. Satellite images of the area before and after show the extent of the forced evictions that took place. The demolitions and evictions are clearly contrary to World Bank project standards, which exist to protect communities from negative effects of the Bank financed projects.

Badia East is part of the larger Badia community, which is one of nine slums. An earlier Bank document describes the inhabitants of Badia East as the poorest in Lagos. This area was meant to benefit from the World Bank funded Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project (LMDGP). The objective of the US$200 million project was to increase sustainable access to basic urban services through investments in critical infrastructure. The infrastructure component of the project included urban upgrading activities in nine of the largest slums identified in 1995 in Lagos State, along with drainage and solid waste management projects.

Despite the obvious need to resettle thousands of individuals to make way for the project, the Lagos state government and the World Bank failed to develop a Resettlement Plan, which is required by World Bank policies. In 2013, the Lagos state government agreed with the World Bank to apply an older Resettlement Policy Framework, developed in 2005, to the people forcibly evicted from Badia East. This action necessitated the development of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), which had to be approved by the World Bank.

In March 2014, the World Bank Group approved a Resettlement Action Plan that Amnesty International has called "an ineffective remedy for the human rights violations suffered by the victims." According to the organization, the RAP facilitates further human rights violations, including the violation of the right to adequate housing.

The RAP violates World Bank policies in several ways. First, the Bank's Involuntary Resettlement policy requires that the RAP be disclosed and consulted with the affected communities prior to any resettlement. In this case, however, the RAP for the affected community was finalized close to a year after thousands of people were made homeless. The consultation process left out hundreds of people who were affected, and the plan itself stripped over 350 people of their rights to compensation. Furthermore, even for those who were included, the livelihood restoration plan offered through the RAP was insufficient for finding adequate alternative housing in Lagos state and left victims with no choice but to find housing in other informal settlements. This further violates the policies of the Bank, which require that displaced persons should be assisted to improve their livelihoods and standards of living or at least restore them to pre-displacement levels.

Unsurprisingly, World Bank Management rubber-stamped the project despite the obvious human rights violations that will exacerbate and further entrench poverty in the affected communities.

On behalf of individuals, families and groups living in the Badia area of Lagos State, the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) sent a request for inspection to the Inspection Panel of the World Bank. The requesters complained that the project has caused further 'impoverishment and insecurity' of residents of Badia, a vulnerable slum community in Lagos, as a result of evictions that have occurred under the project 'without prior consultation, notice, compensation or resettlement.' The Panel verified that the request met the basic requirements for registration. However, it postponed the decision to register the complaint and initiated instead the pilot approach to support early solutions in the Inspection Panel process. This approach, which has never been used before by the Panel, is turning out to not benefit the communities'. Their concerns were never addressed. The complainants now want the Panel to get down to business and launch a full scale investigation into the matter, but the Panel is undecided.

The Panel should abandon its current approach and register the complaint through its traditional processes. A full investigation of the matter is required in accordance with the Panel's mission "to promote accountability at the World Bank, give affected people a greater voice in activities supported by the World Bank that affect their rights and interests, and foster redress when warranted."

The Bank's final report on the implementation of this project does point out that "outcomes were moderately unsatisfactory..., Bank performance was moderately unsatisfactory, and Borrower performance was moderately unsatisfactory." It is about time that the Bank acknowledges the damage it has done in this project and provides sustainable remedies to the affected communities.

The World Bank has closed the project thereby failing in its mission to promote shared prosperity and poverty reduction, as their motto goes, in Badia East. Badia communities are demanding justice. The least the World Bank can do is implement its own policies. President Kim of the Bank should not allow its staff to walk out of the project and turn their back on a population left more impoverished because of the Bank. The Inspection Panel needs to do its part by conducting an impartial investigation and establishing the facts which can be used by President Kim to make the Bank follow its own rules.

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