Rape and Killings at World Bank Tourist Project Site in Tanzania
The proposed site of a World Bank tourism project in Tanzania has been embroiled in allegations of rape, killings and forced evictions. The ambitious “resilient natural resource management for tourism and growth” project, worth $150 million, has pushed the government to evict tens of thousands of people.
This is not the first time for the World Bank to be dragged into human rights abuse. In 2015, the World Bank loan for the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) to encourage foreign investment in commercial agriculture was in bad light. It was evicting cattle herders in Barabaig, Maasai and other indigenous communities.
The Bank argued that the Tanzanian government had assured them that any land allocation to agribusiness will be based on community consent. It said vulnerable groups affected by the project are entitled to free, prior, and informed consultation, mitigation of adverse impacts and access to a grievance mechanism.
World Bank Enabling Alleged Violence
Now for the tourism project, the World Bank has been accused of enabling alleged violence by the Tanzanian government. Villagers living near the proposed site Ruaha told Oakland Institute that rangers killed and beat cattle herders and fishers, raped women and confiscated thousands of head of cattle. The rangers alleged that the villagers had encroached on the national park. Covering up the killings, the regional police commander said the cattle herders and fishers were killed by wild animals when they illegally entered the park.
Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, said the World Bank project is not about protecting wildlife or conservation, but oppression and violent economic growth. She believes the World Bank should have scrutinized the Tanzanian government’s record on human rights before financing it.
“The government authorized evictions close to the same area in 2006 and has been criticized for its handling of forced evictions in northern Tanzania, which should have triggered internal alarm before the bank decided to finance the project.” Mittal said the Bank should be held accountable.
Tanzania Government’s Unlawful Actions
Affected villagers have called the Tanzania government’s actions unlawful and heavy-handed. A community leader said people in more than 40 villages will lose ancestral and lawfully owned land. He highlighted that many farmers were barred from cultivating their farms this year causing hunger and poverty. Many residents face an uncertain future and psychological pain.
The community leader called on the World Bank to immediately halt the project and conduct a forensic investigation on allegations of gross violation of human rights in the project area.