• 2 May 2017

    Natalie Bridgeman Fields: Holding the Powerful Accountable

    By Marc Gunther, Nonprofit Chronicles
    Natalie Bridgeman Fields, who is the founder and executive director of a nonprofit called Accountability Counsel, isn’t so sure. Accountability Counsel is one of several small nonprofits–others include the Bank Information Center, EarthRights International, SOMO and Inclusive Development International–that work to make sure that the World Bank, and other financial institutions and global companies, respect the rights of the poor to help shape the development projects that affect them.
  • 27 April 2017

    Inside the campaign to support communities harmed by development

    By Catherine Cheney, Devex
    After years of repeatedly raising issues with the World Bank about accountability, Natalie Bridgeman Fields finally had her chance to speak with its president, Jim Kim. She approached him at the Skoll World Forum, following a screening of Bending the Arc, a documentary that follows his path from co-founding Partners in Health to taking one of the most influential positions in development finance. But the conversation did not go as she had hoped.
  • 3 April 2017

    The World Bank, the Tata Conglomerate and Tea Workers in India

    By Peter Rosenblum, JSTOR
    In September 2016, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) for the World Bank’s private investment arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), issued a striking report on the Bank’s investment in Indian tea plantations part- owned by the massive Tata conglomerate and employing more than 30,000 workers. For a decade, the Bank had been involved with Tata in a project to spin the plantations off into a separate company.
  • 5 March 2017

    Nepal: Indigenous Locals Demand that Development Projects Respect Their Rights

    By Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Minority Voices Newsroom
    For the past month, local communities such as the indigenous people of the Sindhuli District have been obstructing the works of the Khimti-Dhalkebar 220KV electricity transmission line project. It is the highest-capacity line in Nepal that is funded by the World Bank and is working in collaboration with Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
  • 1 March 2017

    Power to the People… At What Cost?

    By Dev Kumar Sunuwar, Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine
    Nestled among the glaciers and plentiful freshwater systems of the Himalayas, Nepal is a rich source of alternative energy. Recently, the government of Nepal has introduced a host of ambitious projects to tap its vast hydropower potential. In February 2016, the government endorsed the National Energy Crisis Reduction and Electricity Development Decade Plan, which aims to produce 10,000 megawatts of energy. Currently, as many as 70 hydroelectricity generating plants (ranging in capacity from 6 to 750 megawatts) are in operation across the country.
  • 31 January 2017

    World Bank continues colonial legacy on Assam’s tea plantations

    By Simran Sachdev & Jayshree Satpute, Nazdeek, for the Bretton Woods Observer
    An Adivasi woman working in Assam’s tea plantations will carry her baby on her back as she has nowhere to leave her children, and she’ll bring another child along to help her pick tea leaves. She will spend eight to nine hours picking leaves and gather a total of 24 kilograms a day, with few or no breaks. In breach of the state’s legal minimum wage of 250 Indian rupees per day, she will receive only 126 rupees (about £1.52). Failure to meet her daily target will further reduce her wage. Aggravating her poor working conditions, there is no toilet accessible in her workplace, and the housing and sanitation facilities provided for her in the plantation are in disrepair.
  • 8 December 2016

    New FOIA Release Shows U.S. Agency Ignored Warnings While Investing Millions in Failed Project in Liberia

    By Kindra Mohr & Lani Inverarity, Accountability Counsel, in HuffPost
    In a stunning display of recklessness, newly released State Department documents reveal that the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)—the government’s development finance institution—blatantly disregarded red flags as it continued to pour millions into a risk-laden biofuels project in Liberia. This news coincides with a flurry of criticism involving the agency’s failed investments in Afghanistan.
  • 12 November 2016

    Indian tea workers’ conditions remain very poor

    By Justin Rowlatt, BBC News
    Tea workers are trapped in a cycle of dependence that began way back when the first tea estates were planted in India in the 1830s. Very little has changed since then, says Anirudha Nagar, of Accountability Counsel, an organisation supporting the APPL workers. “With housing tied to their job, they are practically held hostage by their employer,” he says. “With abysmally low wages, they face a daily struggle to survive and have no means for advancement. And with poor access to education, their children are left with no option but to become workers themselves.” So what can be done? Here is what campaigners such as Anirudha Nagar want to see happen…
  • 9 November 2016

    ‘Assam tea company denying benefits to workers’

    By Naresh Mitra, Times of India
    GUWAHATI: A tea plantation company has been found to be reneging on its commitment to provide housing and other services to workers on its tea estates, according to a report by the compliance advisor ombudsman (CAO) for the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
  • 9 November 2016

    World Bank probe into Tata tea project finds it failed to protect Indian workers

    By Nita Bhalla, Reuters
    A World Bank investigation into a tea plantation project in India that it jointly finances with tea giant Tata Global Beverages has found that it has failed to tackle alleged abuses of impoverished workers, the group said on Wednesday. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – said its accountability office began a probe into the project, run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), after reports tea pickers were being exploited.
  • 8 November 2016

    Accountability: The Golden Opportunity in Impact Investing

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Accountability Counsel, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review
    During coffee breaks at the past two annual Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conferences, I’ve asked dozens of impact investors: Do you evaluate and mitigate the risk of social or environmental harm that your investments might cause?
  • 8 November 2016

    IFC didn’t follow due process while investing in APPL: World Bank

    By Vishwanath Nair, Livemint
    The World Bank has found serious shortcomings in the way Amalgamated Plantations Pvt. Ltd (APPL), India’s second largest tea producer, treated workers at its Assam plantations, said a study released on Monday. After a two-year-long investigation, the World Bank found that its arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), had not followed due process while investing $7.8 million in APPL’s Assam tea plantations and that workers had not been given promised benefits by the tea producer.
  • 7 November 2016

    World Bank, Tata group come under scanner

    By the Assam Tribune
    In a major blow to the tea industry, particularly the Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) and World Bank group, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), which holds the World Bank Group accountable to its own policies, has found that low wages and poor working conditions on APPL plantations do not protect and promote the health of workers, and thus do not provide a way out of poverty.
  • 4 October 2016

    World Bank investment on Assam’s tea plantations: hearing the voices of workers?

    By Anirudha Nagar, Accountability Counsel, & Francesca Feruglio, Nazdeek, in openDemocracy
    The Assam tea industry produces half of India’s tea and employs nearly 800,000 workers. Just a few companies dominate the landscape, with Tata Global Beverages, McLeod Russel and Unilever especially powerful. Tata own[s] almost half of Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), a further 17% of which is owned by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the World Bank’s private sector arm – which invested $7.87 million in the company in 2009.
  • 11 August 2016

    World Bank unit’s wage scandal at Tata tea estates a lesson in due diligence

    By Yuji Kuronuma, Nikkei Asian Review
    A World Bank Group lender’s credibility has been threatened over questions involving its investment in the tea plantation unit run by Indian conglomerate Tata group, following complaints that the company pays workers just half the minimum wage. The World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp. is an investor. However, several of the company’s plantations have come under criticism from local nongovernmental organizations as workers toil long hours for less than minimum wage.
  • 10 August 2016

    Nepal: respect the rights of communities affected by World Bank project

    By ESCR-Net
    On August 10, ESCR-Net sent a letter to the Government of Nepal to express concern regarding the reported and threatened human rights violations in connection with the World Bank-funded Khimti-Dhalkebar 220 kV Transmission Line Project (Project), in the Sindhuli District, which is operating on the lands of indigenous peoples.
  • 16 July 2016

    Water War

    By Hindustan Times (Ranchi)
    Residents of Giddijhopri clash with police as they try to stop work on a water treatment plant in their village. Work started on Friday after the CM took note of report that Jamshedphur SDO Suraj Kumar had to face sedition case when he tried to expedite the Bagbera-Chotagovindpur water supply…
  • 10 June 2016

    Rejecting the World Bank’s false choice between rights & development

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields & Siddharth Akali, Accountability Counsel, for the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
    In April, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim gave a talk in New York where he addressed development-induced environmental and human rights abuses. While referring to such abuses, President Kim reasoned “[y]ou cannot do the kind of work we are trying to do and not have some of these incidents happen.” Although he framed rights violations as regrettable, President Kim’s implication — that human rights violations and loss of life are sometimes an inevitable part of achieving development — is false.
  • 5 May 2016

    In Nepal, Fighting for The Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    By the Coalition for Human Rights in Development
    My name is Abhijeet*. I am a community member in Sindhuli, Nepal and I am actively resisting against human and environmental rights violations in the construction of the Khimti-Dhalkebar Transmission Line (KDTL Project). The KDTL Project is a high-voltage transmission line that will cross the area of Sindhuli. It is being funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
  • 20 April 2016

    Dysfunction in Development Aid Runs Deep

    By Kindra Mohr, Accountability Counsel, in HuffPost
    In a recent exposé, journalists from Reveal at The Center for Investigative Reporting exposed an accountability gap that has allowed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to pour over $130 million of development assistance into projects run by Planet Aid. USDA continues to invest in Planet Aid even after being presented with evidence that their projects are tied to a corrupt and abusive cult.