Stop World Bank Funding for Oil Pipeline / Chad-Cameroon

We have run action alerts about this disastrous scheme several times already and have decided to do so again because we believe there is a real chance of getting the World Bank to listen. Persistence is often the key to success in cases like this. The World Bank's board of directors will make a decision on Funding for the pipeline in October, so Global Response is urging letters now.


"Watersheds, protected forest areas and biodiversity are severely threatened by the planned oil and pipeline. We are especially worried about water pollution since the pipeline will cross several of our largest rivers, which are used by local communities for their daily needs."

- Louis Djomo, African Forest Action Network (AFAN)

 The World Bank's official mission is to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable (environmentally sound) development.That's what the world's citizens have a right to expect for the tax dollars we contribute to this powerful international institution.

In October the World Bank is expected to award loans totaling at least $225 million so that Exxon, Shell, and Elf oil companies can build a pipeline to carry oil from southern Chad through Cameroon's rainforests to the sea. The World Bank should reject this project on the basis of its own two stated purposes:

(1) Poverty alleviation: The main beneficiaries of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline are multinational oil companies and governments so corrupt that there's little hope of adequate environmental protection and "trickle-down" economic benefits for needy people.

Transparency International rates Cameroon the world's most corrupt government. There is no guarantee that Chad and Cameroon will use revenue from the oil development and pipeline to improve the health and well being of the poor, who suffer high rates of malnutrition, infectious disease and illiteracy. "What we need are small-scale programs that respond to local aspirations," says Samuel Nguiffo, director of the Center for the Environment and Development in Cameroon and recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

With limited funds available for each developing country, the World Bank should finance projects that have direct, positive impacts on nutrition, health, education, and environmentally sound development for African people - not for Exxon (whose annual profits are 40 times the budget of Chad).

(2) Sustainable development: Further exploitation of fossil fuels contributes alarmingly to global warming and climate change. The World Bank acknowledges that climate change is disastrous for poor nations, and that energy efficiency and renewable resources such as solar power are the best ways to serve the two billion rural poor worldwide who have no electricity.

The 600-mile underground pipeline is to originate in Chad's "breadbasket," the fertile region where most of the country's food crops are grown. Inevitable oil spills and groundwater contamination would threaten food security nationwide.

In Cameroon, the pipeline will pass through ecologically fragile rainforests, including a region where indigenous nomadic Baka and Bakola peoples (often referred to as Pygmies) rely on hunting and gathering. Existing seasonal roads will be upgraded andnew roads built along the pipeline route. On these roads, loggers and "bushmeat" hunters will rush into previously inaccessible forests, accelerating the rate of deforestation and imperiling the survival of endangered chimpanzees, gorillas, forest elephants and black rhinos.

Environmental and human rights organizations in Central Africa ask Global Response to help prevent the irreparable damage this pipeline will cause. In Chad, security forces have killed over 200 people and jailed the single Parliamentarian who dared voice opposition to the pipeline (he was released after 10 months thanks to international pressure.) World citizens who face no such consequences must speak out against this project.

Without World Bank funding, the Chad-Cameroon pipeline will almost certainly fail to attract other investors. The World Bank is the key.

Requested Action:

Write to the president of the World Bank. He needs to hear from thousands of tax-payers to stop the Chad-Cameroon pipeline!

Logging and the "Bushmeat" Trade: Wild animal meat has been part of the traditional diet of many forest-dwelling African people. As Africa has urbanized, however, the bushmeat trade has accelerated out of control. Primates are main targets, especially chimpanzees and gorillas. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) estimates that several thousand lowland gorillas are killed annually, about 800 in eastern Cameroon alone. Half of all primate species are threatened with extinction. Forest elephants, giant pangolins, duikers (small antelopes), leopards, dwarf crocodiles, crown monkeys and golden cats are also killed for the bushmeat trade.

Logging is largely responsible for the boom in the bushmeat trade. Commercial bushmeat hunters use logging roads to gain access to the deep forest and to transport the bushmeat out to markets, often in logging trucks. Hunters also sell huge quantities of bushmeat at logging settlements that can have up to 4,000 residents. --Adapted from HSUS News, Summer 1998, p. 7-10.

Chimpanzees and a cure for AIDS: AIDS researchers have joined the fight to save Central African rainforests, convinced that a cure for AIDS depends on the survival of chimpanzees and their habitat. In February, scientists discovered the source of the HIV-1 virus in chimps who live in Cameroon's old growth rainforests. They believe HIV-1 was introduced into the human population through exposure to blood during hunting and field-dressing of these animals. Chimpanzees are identical to humans in 98 percent of their genetic makeup, yet appear to be resistant to the damaging effects of the AIDS virus. Scientists hope to obtain important clues to develop cures and treatments for AIDS by studying the native populations of chimpanzees in their rainforest homes.

 Requested Action

All GR Members: Please write to the president of the World Bank. Urge him to withhold financing for the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline because:

the project will further impoverish Central African people by contaminating their agricultural land, destroying forest resources, and diverting funds desperately needed for nutrition, health, education and small-scale economic development

chimpanzees in Cameroon's forests are believed to hold the key to a cure for AIDS; the pipeline project threatens them and their habitat by opening access to loggers and bushmeat hunters

further fossil fuel consumption will accelerate global warming and climate change, endangering all life

the World Bank must live up to its mission and be accountable to tax-paying citizens

Address:

Mr. James D. Wolfensohn, President

The World Bank

1818 H. Street, NW

Washington DC 20433

FAX: Int'l code+202/522-1677

US Citizens Only: Also write to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Urge him to oppose World Bank financing of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline.

Address:

Mr. Lawrence H. Summers, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington DC 20220

FAX: Int'l code+202/622-0073


This Global Response Action was issued in support of and with information provided by by the Center for the Environment and Development (Cameroon), Chadian Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, Rainforest Action Network, and Environmental Defense Fund.

For more information, please see these websites:

Chad-Cameroon pipeline project: http://www.exxon.com/essochad/

http://www.edf.org/pubs/Reports/c_chadcam.html

The World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org

http://org www.foe.org/international/finance/worldbank/

http://www.50years.org

African Forests: http://www.ran.org/ran/ran_campaigns/africa/index.html

Oil and Climate Change: http://www.moles.org/Projectunderground/index1.html

Chimpanzees and AIDS: http://www.iapac.org/gabon.html


Source:Global Response