• en

World Bank Halts Funding For Tanzania Tourism Project Over Rights Abuses Concerns

The World Bank has suspended financing for a $150 million Tanzania tourism initiative over widespread reports of rights violations.

The World Bank has halted funding for a tourism venture in Tanzania following reports that it caused widespread suffering among tens of thousands of villagers. The Oakland Institute on Tuesday, termed the decision to suspend the $150 million project, “long overdue”.

The group alleged that the World Bank’s inaction led to severe harm to local communities.

The suspension of the funding commenced on April 18, with approximately $100 million already allocated for the project since its launch in 2017.

For years, the Oakland Institute, a rights watchdog based in California, has been at the forefront of urging the World Bank to halt funding for the project known by the acronym REGROW. They have extensively documented the severe rights violations experienced by indigenous communities in the region.

Last November, the group accused the World Bank of not holding Tanzanian authorities accountable for extrajudicial killings and sexual assaults linked to the expansion of Ruaha National Park. The report indicated that the Tanzanian government’s efforts to displace communities and promote tourism in Ruaha National Park, an objective of the REGROW initiative, were “inextricably tied to its financing by the World Bank”.

While the World Bank reiterated its stance of “zero tolerance for violence in the projects it finances,” it said a panel of inspectors was reviewing a complaint related to REGROW “to determine whether a compliance audit into the concerns raised is warranted.”

The executive director of the Oakland Institute, Anuradha Mittal, hailed the suspension of funding for “a dangerous project” as a triumph for marginalised communities in Tanzania, underscoring it as a message to the Tanzanian government that rights abuses will not be overlooked.

He said, “It sends a resounding message to the Tanzanian government that there are consequences for its rampant rights abuses taking place across the country to boost tourism. The days of impunity are finally coming to an end.”

Tanzania’s heavy reliance on tourism for revenue has led to extensive efforts to develop national parks, affecting numerous communities. Instances of forced evictions and civilian abuses have drawn international scrutiny.

Melissa Enoch

Follow us on: