The World Bank expects a surge in the number of people being forced to move out of their homes as it ramps up funding for new infrastructure projects in the developing world.
Some three million people in developing countries are directly affected by active World Bank-funded projects, with almost 500,000 of them forced to relocate their homes, the Financial Times reported, citing the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Kim warned that the number would rise significantly as the bank seeks to meet a “dramatic increase” in requests for help to fund dams and other infrastructure projects in developing countries.
Kim calls it an unavoidable reality. “This happens in every single country in the world … Every highway or dam requires use of eminent domain,” he said.
According to the bank, developing countries must spend US$1 trillion a year on infrastructure through to 2020 to maintain current growth rates and meet demand.
An internal review of the bank’s current policies — completed in June but kept private until Wednesday — found that people forced to leave their homes as a result of projects it funded received too little compensation too late and faced significant delays in being provided permanent homes, the newspaper said.
It also found that the bank did not do enough to make sure its resettlement policies were actually followed and to monitor what happened to the resettled communities.
“We took a hard look at ourselves on resettlement and what we found caused me deep concern,” Kim was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the World Bank is facing competition to fund major infrastructure projects from China and its own development bank, the report said.
China is also supporting an Asian infrastructure bank and a New Development Bank which will pose further competition with the World Bank.
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