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High Costs, Small Benefits – World Bank-Funded Dams

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High Costs, Small Benefits – World Bank-Funded Dams

Floods due to constructions at Yacyreta dam Photo by: International Rivers

Floods due to constructions at Yacyreta dam
Photo by: International Rivers

“The World Bank funds large dam projects, but does little to help the displaced millions who are forced to relocate. The most recent data available indicates that 1.9 million people are being displaced by projects in the Bank’s current portfolio and that these numbers continue to grow.” (International Rivers)

Past Example

Argentina and Paraguay – Yacyreta Dam

  • In 1994, more than 15,000 people were forced out of their homes and an additional 5,000 people have been forcibly displaced for the construction of the Yacyreta dam.
  • The World Bank loaned nearly 2 billion dollars towards this joint project between Argentina and Paraguay.
  • Most of those forcibly displaced were not compensated for their losses or were moved to crumbling and shoddy resettlement colonies. The Yacyreta Dam did not bring about promised economic improvements and development but rather exacerbated ecological problems (including floods), food insecurity, and left much of the rural population homeless. (International Rivers)

 

Nam Theun 2 Dam (Before and After) Photo by: International Rivers

Nam Theun 2 Dam (Before and After)
Photo by: International Rivers

More Recent Example

Laos – Nam Theun 2 Dam

  • 6,200 indigenous people were resettled to make way for the construction of the Nam Theun 2 dam.
  • The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank donated millions of dollars towards the Nam Theun 2 dam project in 2005 and the dam begun full operation in 2010.
  • The government of Laos promised compensation for those affected by the construction but more than 110,000 people living downstream still have not received proper compensation and the river ecosystem they depended on has been completely destroyed. (International Rivers)
Villagers to be affected by the Inga 3 dam Photo by: Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers

Villagers to be affected by the Inga 3 dam
Photo by: Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers

What’s happening now?

Democratic Republic of Congo – Inga 3 Dam

  • The Inga 3 dam project is estimated to cost around 12 billions dollars – the most expensive hydropower project ever proposed in Africa.
  • The World Bank also supported Inga I and Inga II projects in Congo.
  • Inga I and Inga II projects mainly helped the elite sector as only 10% of the population had access to the electricity provided by the dam.
  • Much of the rural population living close to riverbanks was also displaced with little aid from the government.
  • It is unclear how the Inga 3 project will resolve the inequities that the previous projects brought about.

Leila Bamba is in her last year at McGill studying Political Science and Sociology. She wants to pursue graduate studies in journalism.

Leila Bamba – who has written posts on Upstream Journal.


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