Community Engagement

Communities should be in the driver’s seat when it comes to development processes. Unfortunately, too often communities are shut out of development decisions and forced to bear the costs of interventions that don’t respond to their development needs or priorities. Through our Community Engagement Partnerships, the Coalition builds relationships between communities facing development-related human rights concerns and the Coalition’s global members. Together we exchange strategic information and resources, strengthen capacities, and engage in collective action to defend human rights and promote community-led development.

Supporting Sri Lankan fisherfolk to defend their livelihoods

In Northern Sri Lanka, small scale and artisanal fisherfolk communities are mobilizing against the proposed Northern Province Sustainable Fisheries Development Project. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded the project that will construct new two fishing harbors, anchorages, and associated facilities along coastal districts. Unfortunately, both the ADB and local Sri Lankan officials pushing the project failed to properly inform and consult with communities, and as a result the current plans pose significant risks to these communities, from loss of traditional food, loss of control over fishing grounds, the displacement of around 350 or more boats, and in particular the loss of opportunities to earn extra income for women.

The Sri Lanka Nature Group (SLNG), in partnership with International Accountability Project (IAP), the Coalition and the NGO Forum on the ADB, has been raising awareness in the community leading to a more organized resistance. The community has recently filed a formal complaint with the ADB’s accountability mechanism, demanding that the ADB project be stopped so as not to endanger the livelihood of these communities. Want to know more, please read here.  Contact Organization: Sri Lanka Nature Group (SLNG)

Seeking accountability for dirty energy in the Philippines

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), a broad movement of more than 130 national networks/alliances and local organizations in the Philippines, is working with 19 established Sites of Struggle (SOS) or communities affected by the proliferation of coal-fired power plants. Working with Inclusive Development International, PMCJ uncovered that the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested in Philippine commercial banks, including Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), which finances at least 19 coal projects all over the country. The 19 projects will have devastating environmental, social, and health impacts, and are contributing to the crisis of global climate change.

PMCJ has filed a complaint before the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the IFC  that the  19 coal projects, individually and cumulatively, will have devastating environmental and social impacts, including through their contribution to climate change given the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, including extreme weather events. PMCJ also submitted the complaint on behalf of communities and families who are suffering or stand to suffer from localized social and environmental harms caused by their exposure to the development and operation of the coal power plants. The case is the first ever climate complaint to be brought against the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

PMCJ is working with the Coalition in supporting the local communities in their struggle to highlight and popularize the issue at the local, national and international levels through communications, through security planning, and by linking with international groups to put pressure on financiers. For more information, see here:  Contact organization: Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

Holding extractive companies accountable for human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo

African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH) cooperates with farmers in the Lualaba province in the Democratic Republic of Congo to hold Chinese company SICOMINES accountable for the pollution of the Luilu River. Eximbank is one of the main institutions financing SICOMINES. AFREWATCH documented the degradation of the environment, the pollution of the soil and the water, the loss of aquatic species, health problems of community members, and the absence of compensation for those affected. AFREWATCH documented and exposed the compensation process to show that most affected community members were not indemnified and those who were were not compensated adequately. In addition, SICOMINES did not take any measure to rehabilitate polluted farmland. Currently AFREWATCH, in partnership with communities, is initiating advocacy actions at the international level to obtain justice for the victims. For more information, please read the report here. Contact organization : African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)

Following the Money for redress of mining-affected communities in Guinea

In late 2015 and 2016, approximately 380 households of artisanal gold miners, merchants and smallholder farmers were forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in Kintinian commune of the Siguiri region of Guinea in order to make way for an open-pit oxide goldmine controlled by mining giant AngloGold Ashanti. The company had issued a memorandum to the Guinean government in early 2015 asking to make the lands available or it would cease all of its operations in Siguiri. As a result, when the negotiations with the community broke down, State security forces moved into the area. They used tear gas in private homes, beat residents and set huts on fire. People were arrested and shot and hundreds fled the area in fear. Inclusive Development International (IDI), in response to a request from local NGO Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement (CECIDE), conducted investment chain mapping of the gold mine through its Follow the Money Initiative. The analysis uncovered investors such as Nedbank of South Africa and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which could be leveraged to help the affected community in their struggle for redress. With support from the Coalition, IDI disseminated the findings to the community through a workshop in Siguiri for community members and organized a training on various advocacy options. As a result, a group of displaced people have filed a complaint to the IFC’s accountability mechanism and has engaged other key investors and financiers of AngloAshanti Gold to hold the company accountable.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Inclusive Development International (IDI)

Safeguarding Nepali communities’ rights to adequate consultation and compensation

In western Nepal, more than 750 households, predominantly from indigenous Magar and other groups, stand to be affected by the Tanahu Hydropower Project, yet were not adequately informed or consulted regarding the project impacts and were not offered fair compensation for their loss of lands and livelihoods. The Tanahu Project is financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Government of Nepal. In 2016, Community Empowerment and Social Justice Foundation (CEmSoJ) and Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG) in collaboration with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and International Accountability Project (IAP) conducted a consultation and training workshop with the affected communities’ leaders to increase understanding of the Project and relevant legal protections and safeguards. As a result, the affected communities submitted a set of demands to the Project investors and relevant national and local authorities. In 2017, with support from the Coalition, the community groups organized a series of three community seminars in coordination with CEmSoJ and INWOLAG in order to raise awareness at the grassroots community level and continued their advocacy and lobbying with the Project implementing agencies and government authorities. As a result, the Project implementers have increased information dissemination and set up local consultation forums with participation of affected communities’ representatives to continuously address other grievances during construction, while community members continue to work to hold the project accountable and secure a better relief and rehabilitation package.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Community Empowerment and Social Justice Foundation (CEmSoJ)

Defending Indigenous Land Rights amid Geothermal Development in Kenya’s Rift Valley

Community members discuss advocacy options

The Narasha Community Development Group is working with indigenous Maasai communities living in the Olkaria area of Kenya’s Rift Valley who were resettled to make way for a geothermal development. The communities filed complaints with the accountability mechanisms of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank over the banks’ financing of the Kenya Electricity Expansion Project, and resultant human rights and policy violations. The project involved the resettlement of 4 Maasai villages without free, prior and informed consultation. The World Bank’s Inspection Panel concluded that there has been harm to approximately 1,170 people affected by the resettlement. These families were resettled into culturally inappropriate housing on lands that are unsuitable for pastoralism, the basis of their culture and economy. Their tourism industry was devastated, and they are still fighting for water access and benefit sharing. The project is part of a complex of geothermal wells and related transmission lines and industrial parks with investors ranging from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the African Development Bank and the German Development Bank (KFW). The investments are increasing pressure on Maasai lands and the potential for future evictions. Through the Coalition, Narasha Community Development Group is working together with Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organisation (MPIDO), and CEE Bankwatch to bring community concerns to decision-makers at the investing banks and to advocate for compliance with the banks’ policies and respect for human rights.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Narasha Community Development Group

Protecting Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Consultation in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Community consultation to discuss impacts of the transport project

The Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh bordering India is home to 11 indigenous groups, numbering approximately 500,000 people. In February 2014, the World Bank approved a $5 million Trade and Transport Facilitation Studies project to plan the design and routes for a proposed road and port development. While the development posed serious risks for indigenous peoples’ land rights and social cohesion, as well as adverse impacts for forest resources and cultural sites, indigenous peoples were not informed about the project and their traditional and political leadership was left out of consultations. With the Coalition’s support through the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) working with indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, the local indigenous groups held three community consultations and conducted their own impact assessment of the proposed project, developed a position paper, filed a complaint with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel highlighting the violation of the Bank’s requirements on free, prior and informed consent, and conducted advocacy with Bank management. In October 2016, the Bank announced its disavowal of the feasibility studies and that it will not move forward with future financing for the project given the lack of adequate consultation and other serious problems.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

Community–led research and access to information in Malawi

Residents of Khomani village participate in survey process. Image Credit: Citizens for Justice (CFJ) Malawi

In April 2016 Citizens For Justice Malawi, in partnership with International Accountability Project and with the support of the Coalition, worked through the Early Warning System to inform communities in central Malawi about a planned $71 million Water Project to be financed by the World Bank. The construction of the Diamphwe Multipurpose Dam on the lower Diampwhe River and associated infrastructure was expected to directly affect 6,015 people in Dedza and Lilongwe Districts, including through resettlement. Citizens for Justice facilitated outreach meetings and conducted a community-led survey with approximately 700 community members from 28 village areas. The findings of the outreach meetings and survey results showed concerns regarding the lack of access to information and meaningful consultation as well as serious flaws in the resettlement plan. Armed with the results of the community-led research, IAP and CFJ urged the World Bank and others to not approve the project until a clear plan for consultation and resettlement was developed. Ultimately, the banks who were to finance the project – World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank (EIB) – withdrew their support, providing a temporary reprieve for those affected. Currently, national advocacy is being spearheaded by Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR). In March 2018, they held a dialogue meeting with government officials, community representatives and other stakeholders.  For more information, read here. Contact organization: Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation.

  Demanding accountability for forced evictions in Nigeria

Community leader brings her case to the World Bank

Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) is supporting communities who were forcibly evicted in conjunction with a World Bank-financed urban upgrading project in Badia East, Nigeria in 2012 and 2013. The Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project was expected to increase sustainable access to basic urban services through investments in critical infrastructure. Instead the communities who were the intended beneficiaries of the project were displaced in two different forced evictions – without notice or consultation, without resettlement or even adequate compensation. Over 10,000 people were forcibly evicted. Communities filed a complaint with the World Bank’s accountability mechanism, but they did not receive remedy. Today, many of the community members are still homeless. With the Coalition’s support, JEI worked through a model of community paralegals to educate community members about their rights and available advocacy avenues. The evictees produced a video to bring community voices to influence the review of the World Bank’s safeguards policies and a community leader traveled to Washington to press for remedy for those who were harmed. The communities are now working to prevent future evictions in Lagos State and around Nigeria.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI)

Protecting the environment and fishing communities in Senegal

Women fish processors who would lose their livelihoods if the plant is built

Lumière Synergie pour le Développement (LSD) is supporting fishing communities in Bargny, Senegal who are fighting against the Sendou Coal-Fired Power Plant, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), and the West African Development Bank (BOAD). The power plant threatens the health of surrounding communities, approximately 36,000 people, and would be devastating for the local fishing economy, especially women fish processors. The project implementers have not adequately consulted with the communities or made plans to secure land tenure rights and provide adequate resettlement and livelihood restoration. With support from LSD, together with BothENDS, a local environmental organization, Takkom Jerry, brought a complaint before the accountability mechanisms of the different development banks. The Coalition is supporting LSD to do capacity building with the communities so that they can unify their concerns and more effectively engage in mediation and advocacy with investors and their government.   For more information, read here and here. Contact organization: Lumière Synergie pour le Développement (LSD)

   Building Community Capacity to Fight Mega Dams in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Communities impacted by Inga 3. Credit: International Rivers

Actions pour les Droits, l’Environnement et la Vie (Action for Rights, the Environment and for Life) (ADEV) is working with communities who stand to be affected by a large hydroelectric complex on the Congo River. The Inga 3 Dam would displace 35,000 people and impact the water resources, food sources, and livelihoods of countless more. At the same time, the electricity generated by the project would serve the mining industry and not the 90 percent of Congolese people who are without access to electricity. Inga 3 is just one component of the much larger Grand Inga Dam project. While the World Bank withdrew support for the project in 2016 due to the absence of an environmental impact study, the African Development Bank is still providing financing and the European Investment Bank is also considering investing. The Coalition and International Rivers are supporting ADEV’s work with the local organization, Convergence pour les Droits et Intérêts des Communautés locales d’Inga (CODICLI), to build the capacity of seven villages to engage in community monitoring of social and environmental impacts and to conduct advocacy with relevant decisionmakers within the banks and the Congolese government.   For more information, read here. Contact organization: Actions pour les Droits, l’Environnement et la Vie (Action for Rights, the Environment and for Life) (ADEV)