• 30 September 2014

    Massive Mongolian mine endangers nomads’ water, way of life

    By Rachael Bale, Reveal News
    KHANBOGD, Mongolia – Ichinkhorloo Buya scooped fresh water into the camels’ trough and waited for them to return. The whooshing water always beckoned the animals, with their sharp sense of hearing, home. But this time, they were nowhere to be found. Her children raced off across the bumpy moonscape of the Gobi Desert on motorbikes in a frantic search. They eventually found the camels huddled around an old rusty well. There was no reason the camels should congregate there. But they heard something the men didn’t – an underground flow of fresh, cold water. That sound meant something had gone awfully wrong: The precious underground water that sustains the herders’ fragile existence was flowing down into the brackish aquifer controlled by a booming copper and gold mine that’s rapidly changing daily life in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
  • 9 September 2014

    Is Mongolia’s mining boom causing Ulan Bator to run out of water?

    By Gabriel Domínguez, Deutsche Welle
    Water is already scarce in Ulan Bator. But with the mining industry competing with energy facilities, agriculture and urban residents for water resources, the problem will intensify, as analyst Qingfeng Zhang tells DW.
  • 18 August 2014

    World Bank accused of transferring safeguards responsibility to borrowers

    By Mint Press News
    WASHINGTON — A bitter dispute has broken out in recent weeks following the release of proposed changes to World Bank policies aimed at safeguarding local communities and environments. A draft of the proposed reforms, released at the end of July, follows a half-year of consultations in some 40 countries. Yet civil society groups around the world have responded with concern and even indignation at many of the proposed changes, warning that the new proposal includes multiple loopholes that could hollow out what have long been seen as pioneering policies.
  • 21 July 2014

    Do communities affected by internationally financed projects have access to remedies?

    By the Harvard Law and International Development Society
    Traditional justice is expensive and difficult to attain. The cost of litigation in time and money, judicial corruption, fear of retribution, and other barriers push the most marginalized out of the sphere of national courts. Among the most marginalized are those harmed by internationally financed projects. From herders in Mongolia to farmers in Liberia, communities affected by projects financed by international financial institutions have little judicial recourse for violations of their environmental and human rights by large corporations; however, that does not necessarily mean that they have no recourse.
  • 20 June 2014

    World Bank funded mines threatening livelihoods

    By Bretton Woods Project
    The IFC is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in huge mining projects despite their long track record of negative social and environment impact. In Mongolia, the giant Oyu Tolgoi mining project still causes controversy. In April civil society groups, including Mongolia-based Oyu Tolgoi Watch, wrote to the Bank’s board to express concerns that the “local herding community is now worse off in many ways” as a result of the Oyu Tolgoi mine causing “serious air pollution, pasture loss and loss of access to clean water, forcing herders to abandon their traditional livelihoods.”
  • 31 March 2014

    Disempowered development: Violating rights in Nepal for energy transmission

    By Komala Ramachandra, Accountability Counsel, & Shankar Limbu, LAHURNIP, in the Bretton Woods Observer
    Nepal’s highest capacity electricity transmission line, a 220 kV line extending 75 kilometres between Khimti and Dhalkebar substations, has faced numerous setbacks since the project commenced in 2002.
  • 5 March 2014

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Draft Environment and Social Policy Retreats on Human Rights

    By Accountability Counsel, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CEE Bankwatch Network, Center for International Environmental Law, Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), & Human Rights Watch
    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s new draft Environment and Social Policy weakens the Bank’s existing safeguards on human rights, according to a group of civil society organisations. The Bank and its member States must reconsider this backward step. They should use this opportunity to put in place policies and systems to ensure that the Bank takes all necessary steps to prevent it from causing, contributing to or exacerbating human rights violations.
  • 28 February 2014

    Mongolia’s water scarcity could threaten its economic boom

    By Oliver Balch, The Guardian
    The sight of foreign faces in Ulan Bator used to turn heads. Now they are two-a-penny as the once remote Mongolian capital fast becomes a hotspot for international investors. The main draw is the country’s rich mineral deposits, which, if successfully exploited, could see the national economy more than double over the next two decades. Impinging on that rosy picture, however, is the tricky question of water availability. The central Asian country suffers from extremes in seasonal runoff, local water stress and chronic deficits.
  • 27 February 2014

    IFC’s bitter tea: Investment in Assam receives global condemnation

    By Komala Ramachandra, Accountability Counsel, & Francesca Feruglio, Nazdeek, in the Bretton Woods Bulletin
    In February 2013, three grassroots organisations: Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis (PAJHRA), People’s Action for Development and the Diocesan Board of Social Services filed a complaint on behalf of tea plantation workers in Assam to the World Bank’s accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), alleging numerous violations of human and labour rights on three tea plantations owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL). Assam, a state in northeast India, is the source of more than half of India’s and one sixth of the world’s tea. Such large-scale production and profit rely on thousands of workers belonging to adivasi (indigenous) communities, forcibly brought to Assam’s tea plantations from central India 150 years ago. Today their living and working conditions remain shockingly poor, with the plantations lacking adequate essential services, such as healthcare, education, and food, and workers paid only rupees 90 ($1.5) per day, far below the state’s minimum wage of rupees 169.
  • 13 February 2014

    Inquiry into Tata Tea Over Labor Issues

    By Vibhuti Agarwal, Wall Street Journal
    Nearly a year after human-rights groups complained about working and living conditions on tea plantations run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd., the World Bank has ordered an inquiry. APPL, a joint venture of Tata Global Beverages and the International Finance Corp., the private-sector lending arm of the bank, employs around 30,000 people on 20 plantations in the northeastern state of Assam.
  • 12 February 2014

    ‘Abused workers toil for Tetley tea’

    By Dean Nelson, The Telegraph
    Indian tea plantation workers employed by a company that owns Tetley are paid less than £2 per day and live in inhumane conditions surrounded by cesspools, according to a report released Wednesday. The workers live in the north-east state of Assam on 24 plantations owned by a company controlled by Tata, the Indian conglomerate that also owns Jaguar Land Rover, and backed by the World Bank.
  • 12 February 2014

    World Bank to investigate its investment in tea group

    By Amy Kazmin, Financial Times
    The World Bank is launching a formal investigation of its investment into a company set up by Tata Global Beverages, maker of Tetley tea, to own and operate 24 Indian tea plantations that the Mumbai conglomerate wanted to divest. In April 2009, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private lending arm, took a 19 per cent stake in Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd, which now runs the plantations in Assam and West Bengal previously wholly-owned by the Tata group.
  • 10 February 2014

    Keep the World Bank Accountable

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Accountability Counsel
    The World Bank is in the midst of an accountability crisis: over one billion people who live in poverty may lose their right to an independent hearing if they are harmed by a Bank-funded project. The Bank aims to serve the world’s poorest, but their projects can have negative consequences…
  • 5 February 2014

    U.S. Development Agency Plans Review of Renewable Energy Project in Liberia

    By Rick Mitchell, Bloomberg BNA
    The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) intends to review the outcome of an OPIC-funded renewable energy project in Liberia that has led to allegations that the project caused environmental, economic, and other harm to farmers, charcoal producers and workers, a spokesman for the agency told Bloomberg BNA.
  • 31 January 2014

    After Abuses, Liberians Demand Action from U.S. Government

    By Sarah Singh, Accountability Counsel, for WITNESS
    On January 22, 2014, hundreds of Liberians filed a complaint with a U.S. federal agency demanding accountability for its funding of a biomass project that caused serious human rights, labor and environmental abuses, including sexual abuse by company employees of local women.  
  • 30 January 2014

    Liberians seek redress for environmental, labor and human rights harms allegedly caused by U.S.-backed development project

    By International Justice Resource Center
    Liberian farmers, charcoal producers and workers are seeking redress before the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) for the economic, social and environmental harms allegedly caused by a development project in which OPIC invested.
  • 23 January 2014

    U.S. Agency Accused of Safeguards Failure in Liberia Investment

    By Carey L. Biron, Inter Press Service New Agency
    WASHINGTON, Jan 23 2014 (IPS) – Hundreds of Liberians have filed a complaint accusing a U.S. government agency of failure to carry out due diligence or ensure that safeguards were followed for investments made to a failed biomass project in Liberia.
  • 20 December 2013

    Follow the Leader? Why Social Entrepreneurs Must Collaborate

    By Kathleen Kelly Janus, Board Chair, Accountability Counsel
    The fast approaching January 6th deadline for applications for the Echoing Green Fellowship, which awards the founders of socially innovative organizations up to $90,000 in funding, prompts me to wonder: Are we actually thwarting potential by putting too much stock in the individual, as opposed to rewarding collaborative forms leadership?
  • 5 November 2013

    Mongolia Copper Mine at Oyu Tolgoi Tests Water Supply and Young Democracy

    By Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue
    KHANBOGD, Mongolia – Though it is well before noon, the hot light of the South Gobi desert sun punches through the ventilation openings at the peak of Byambasuren’s white ger. The door of her teepee-like home, a single round room built of felt and canvas, is open to a dirt compound surrounded by a fence made of rough-cut wood. Beyond that, cattle and horses churn a small grid of unpaved streets to powder. Herders on foot follow behind, their features obscure in yellow clouds of dust. Byambasuren’s ger lies 700 kilometers (434 miles) from Ulaanbataar, Mongolia’s capital. The trip overland is mostly on hard-packed dirt roads and takes 15 hours across treeless steppes and sand. Much of the world’s second largest desert remains remote from the world, even forbidding. That is not the case for Byambasuren, a young herder and mother, or for Khanbogd, an expanding livestock and desert town in Omnogovi, Mongolia’s largest province, which lies along the border with China.
  • 14 August 2013

    A Tank of Warm Water Brews A New Development Tea in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert

    By Keith Schneider, Modeshift
    KHAN BOGH, Mongolia — “And this,” says Battsengel Lkhamdoorov, a South Gobi herder who once managed 600 animals, “is our new spring.” Laughing, he lifted the lid of a brown steel box, its hard lines unusual in a landscape of layered sand and rounded clouds. The tank rests on four metal legs, contains about 1,000 gallons of water, is filled twice a week, and is small enough to fit in the bed of a pickup. It’s located along the south fence guarding the 80-square-kilometer Oyu Tolgoi hard rock copper, gold, and molybdenum mine.