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World Bank Breaches Own Policy and Ignores Civil Society’s Request for Postponement of Project

November 6, 2012

On 1 November, the World Bank’s Board of Directors decided to go ahead with a US$80 million Community Driven Development Project, despite Myanmar civil society organization’s official request to postpone the project until the World Bank holds broad consultations with the public.

The World Bank’s Community Driven Development project fails to reflect the current situation of the country and to take sufficient time for proper and inclusive consultations with beneficiary population and community based organizations. “The World Bank has been disconnected from Myanmar for one quarter of a century. Its successful reengagement will require sufficient assessment of the current situation of Myanmar and this will not be possible without broad consultations with civil society organizations and local communities,” said Si Thu Maung, Coordinator of Yangon Extension Center (1) of Community Management Center.

According to the World Bank’s own definition of “Community Driven Development”, community participation and decision-making is crucial in every step of the process. The World Bank’s failure to uphold this principle in other countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, had brought more disadvantages than advantages to affected communities.

Civil society, community based organizations and local people have met with the Myanmar representative of the World Bank on three separate occasions.  At each of these meetings, civil society and community representatives called for the Bank to take adequate time for a broad consultation with the people to obtain their recommendations. They also filed an official request for postponement of the Community Driven Development project with the Bank’s Inspection Panel on 29 October.

However, the World Bank Board of Directors ignored these requests and made its decision to begin the projects before conducting broad consultations with thepublic. The World Bank’s representative in Myanmar also accused civil societyof blocking aid for the people, misinterpreting the collective calls for addressing the concerns for the people. The representative additionally put pressure by indicating that Myanmar would lose the chance to receive development aid after January 2013 by which date the country is due to pay off its outstanding loans.

“We are very disappointed that the World Bank has ignored the concerns of the people of Myanmar and made a premature decision that allows implementation of Community Driven Development projects to begin. The Bank has violated its stated commitment to transparency, flexibility, hearing the voice of the people and realization of genuinely ‘community-driven’ projects,” said Thet Swe Win, Programme Director, Myanmar Youth Empowerment Programme (Myanmar Y.E.P).

“This is not how the World Bank or any other international donors should initiate or implement aid programs if they truly want their programs benefit the people. This is not what we want.”

For more information, please contact:

  • Si Thu Maung, Coordinator of Yangon Extension Center (1) of Community Management Center.: PHONE #09 421 718 990
  • Thet Swe Win, Programme Director, Myanmar Youth Empowerment Programme (Myanmar Y.E.P). PHONE #09 420029616
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This post is in: Aid and Development, Press Release

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