Mauritania’s World Bank Bubble


Shameful waste! “Consultancy Project to recruit a Technical Assistant” the grand sum of $250,000 was apparently awarded in 2003 to a contractor, GEOIDD in Tunisia, for this basic recruitment service. But then follow the link from that page, and the project name is listed as Rajasthan, India. Are they just insanely sloppy or cooking the books?

Now it's Mauritania

Now it’s Mauritania

and now it's Rajasthan

and now it’s Rajasthan

Here is another – a “study” worth $246,000 awarded to a company “TANSITEC” in Switzerland, which also links to Rajasthan, not Mauritania.

Almost half a million dollars on two items, and what is there to show for it?

Even a cursory examination of the “consultancy” and “study” and “audit” costs, over the life of this 11 year development programme, will show money being squandered on costly but nonsensical projects like the ones above, with little or no immediately apparent or tangible benefits. This programme began before General Aziz staged his military coup in 2008, continuing after he came to power, and it indicates widespread mismanagement and/or corruption on an international scale.

Just one example of a questionable Mauritanian infrastructure and development project was for urban development in Atar, where Mauritanian company Macoba TP (part of the AZIZI group) and Spanish construction company Franjuan were appointed to work with local contractors. Seven local firms were reportedly involved, and they engaged 100 labourers – including some from Mali – to install 46,600 square meters of paving covering 4km of drainage pipes and gutters. The news item posted 7 October 2011 about this project on has “vanished” (still visible via the Internet Archive here). Mention of labour from Mali is a big clue for the story disappearing – this project was supposed to create work for Mauritanians, not Malians.

Don't mention the workers from Mali

Don’t mention the workers from Mali

Also missing is the World Bank website page about the contract which went to Macoba-Franjuan (still visible on a Chinese site that published a copy, here). The decision to remove evidence of this project may indicate that World Bank prefers not to have anyone look too closely at the bid and tender process for standards compliance. We can be sure that China would be more than interested, since they bid on many construction projects in Mauritania.

Some of the images from the October news item are missing but you can see some photos on the Adrar info site here, from January 2012, when the mayor was chuffed with himself about how well the project was going, and here in August the same year, when several snags and unfinished areas were highlighted.

This paving project was part of a larger, long-term, Urban Development Programme with a total budget of almost US$100  million funded by various international organizations via the World Bank . The project closed 30 June 2012, and the details page and reports are available here in English. The stats, such as exist, are baffling. Atar is the regional capital of the state of Adrar and boasts a population of more than 24,000, who celebrated completion of the drainage project on 28 June 2012. This begs the question why there is such a small increase reported (8,305 – from 17,000 in 2011 to 25,305 in 2012) in the number of people, in all urban capitals across the country, provided with improved drainage services.

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

My current theory is this: they don’t care about the numbers, or where the money seems to be going, or even whether some of the projects are imaginary, because the purpose of the entire shambolic scam is to line the pockets of corrupt officials whose companies, and those of their cronies, profit from contracts to undertake the various “improvements”. This buys the required mix of compliance and silence so that, once real estate prices have been boosted by roads, drainage, etc, even more financial shenanigans can take place, as the already wealthy endlessly shuffle their ill-gotten gains around.

I further assume this is the reason for evicting tens of thousands of the poorest people in Mauritania from their hovels. In a recent example, dozens of families in Leimghetty [ar] have been left homeless for over a month after the national guard sent in bulldozers to destroy their huts – over their heads in some cases. All this happened even as the government was issuing advice to citizens to “stay indoors” during the hottest parts of the day, as temperatures soared to 50 degrees Celsius. The homeless families have been completely ignored by officials from the interior ministry, who are under orders to clear the land and to hell with the people, even the most vulnerable such as the elderly, infirm, and mothers with babies, who are slowly being grilled into oblivion under the scorching sun. Don’t think for one moment that the World Bank is not aware of this. They are aware and they do not care. In fact, they want these slums demolished, and they note that :

“The amount paid by low-income people to have access to land property rights is very low as compared to the existing land market value. Depending on local conditions, additional arrangements needs to be put in place to ensure that only targeted people are benefitting from such programs, and will keep this benefit.”

No doubt they are looking forward to a property price boom.

#Ethiopia ‘forcibly displacing’ tens of thousands


The Ethiopian government is forcibly displacing tens of thousands from their land to make way for state-run sugar plantations, a campaign group has said.

The displacements are happening in the country’s Omo Valley, according to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The valley, a World Heritage site, is also the site of a controversial dam.

The Ethiopian government has denied forcing anyone from their homes and says the project will create jobs.

HRW says that in order to make space for the plantations, government security forces are compelling communities to relocate from their traditional lands, using violence and intimidation.

In its report, the campaign group says that at the time of its visit to the area – in June 2011 – “military units regularly visited villages to intimidate residents and suppress dissent related to the sugar plantation development”. It added that “soldiers regularly stole or killed cattle”.

These allegations were denied by government spokesman Bereket Simon.

“There is no forcing out of people from their residence, if there is any reason to relocate people, then it is based on… open communication,” he told the AFP news agency.

‘No shortcut’

The sugar plantations will be irrigated in part by the Gibe III hydropower project, the group says.

The dam, which would become Africa’s largest and the fourth-biggest in the world, has provoked much controversy.

Flooding effect of dam on Omo River

At present

The Ethiopian government says that the project must be completed in order to bring energy and development to the country.

But campaigners fear it will fuel conflict over already scarce water resources, and rob communities of their livelihoods.

According to the report, previously unpublished Ethiopian government maps show plans for sugar plantations covering nearly a quarter of a million hectares.

The maps, HRW says, also show processing factories, irrigation channels and large tracts of land reserved for other forms of commercial agriculture.

The group says that if the plans go ahead they could affect at least 200,000 people in the Omo Valley and another 300,000 Kenyans living across the border around Lake Turkana, which derives up to 90% of its water from the Omo River.

The Ethiopian government has said that the dam’s impact on Lake Turkana will be negligible.

HRW describes the region as among the most ecologically and culturally diverse areas on the planet and says it is currently home to eight different agro-pastoral communities.

“Ethiopia’s ambitious plans for the Omo Valley appear to ignore the rights of the people who live there,” said Ben Rawlence, of Human Rights Watch.

“There is no shortcut to development; the people who have long relied on that land for their livelihood need to have their property rights respected, including on consultation and compensation.”

Many other African countries are reserving huge tracts of land for commercial agriculture – often leased by foreigners in order to export the crops cultivated there abroad.

Graphic of GIBE-3Gibe III would be one of the biggest dams in the world, dwarfing its neighbours

BBC News

Possible Link Between Land-grabbing and Human Trafficking in Ethiopia


Al Amoudi’s chief human trafficker in Ethiopia identified

It’s been suspected that Saudi agent Mohammed Al Amoudi is behind the planned “export” of 45,000 Ethiopian women per month from the Amhara and Oromo regions of Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia. The women, most of whom are teenage girls, will be working in slave-like conditions, often subjected to beatings and other kinds of abuses. Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit has now confirmed Al Amoudi’s involvement in this massive human trafficking, and also we have been able to identified the person whom he has put in charge of the operation.

His name is Jemal Ahmed. He is an Ethiopian, resides in Addis Ababa, and frequently travels to Saudi Arabia and other Arab counties as an employee of Al Amoudi.

Jemal’s responsibilities extend beyond human trafficking. He is also in charge of Horizon Plantations, one of Al Amoudi’s companies that is engaged in destructive commercial farms that are used for growing and exporting cash crops. In 2009, the Woyanne gave Al Amoudi 250,000 hectares of land in southern and western Ethiopia, in many cases forcibly removing local farmers from their lands. Because of excessive use of chemical fertilizers, the land will be totally useless in just a few years. The ground water will also be unusable for Jemal and other partners of Al Amoudi who are pillaging and plundering Ethiopia, and selling our women as slaves to Arab countries, must be stopped. Share this information and take the necessary action.

We Ethiopians currently have no government to protect us. So let’s protect each other and fight to save our country.

via FaceBook

The land grab in Ethiopia is not limited to “investors” from China, India, and Saudi Arabia. In fact, TPLF members are grabbing more fertile land in southern and western Ethiopia than China, India and Saudi combined, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

In investigating land grab by the TPLF members, Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit has stumbled upon a particular evidence that shows how a person named Dr Te’ame Hadgu Embaye took over a land almost half the size of Washington DC for a monthly rent of about $8 per square kilometers, the first payment to be paid after 3 years of signing the contract. (Click here to read the agreement ) … hiopia.pdf

The massive land was given to Dr Teame Hadgu Embaye, who resides in Minneapolis (USA), to grow cotton and peanut for export to the Middle East. Because of the heavy use of chemical fertilizers, the land will be rendered useless within a few years, i.e., before Dr Teame starts paying rent for the land. The people of South Omo, whose land Dr Teame is profiting from, will receive little or no benefit. They will be left with a destroyed, barren land.

While we focus on land grab by China and Saudi Arabia, we seem to have ignored the equally devastating land grab by the TPLF mafia that is displacing local farmers and residents.
It is also important to note that TPLF members heavily invest in companies such as Karturi, the king of Indian land grabbers, but their names are kept off the books.

via Ethiopian Intelligence Review

Understanding the #Ethiopia land-grab phenomenon


The scope and magnitude of the ongoing land grab phenomenon can be daunting. Although this shadowy deal by all accounts favors the new foreign landlords greatly, it cannot simply be measured by the apparent lopsided economic benefits those foreign interests or their agents or their partners in TPLF/EPRDF ruling clique get. The resultant disadvantages to local populations and society at large is incalculable and the impending environmental impact staggering. Because it directly affects local populations where acquisitions are taking place in particular and the people of the country in general in many, many ways, this “deal of the century” is more than an economic issue. In short, this scramble for farmlands expropriates the natural assets of the people that the author refers to as “… potentially the most substantial source of comparative advantage…”, displaces and uproots families and communities, relegates the very owners of the land to serfdom, and because the practice is unregulated and these foreign landlords are free to do whatever they want with their new acquisitions, the environmental hazards and the ecological impacts would be incalculable. Moreover, in addition to the obvious financial benefits dictators like Meles Zenawi & Co. get as a result of the Yemeret Neteka Ena Kirimit deal, the new landlords would prove to be a source of vital diplomatic and political support to sustain their tyrannical rule. Those foreign land lords are equally aware of the fact that most, if not all, of their 9-page “contracts” they entered into with the regime that gave them this exploitative and unfair deal would depend on the longevity of those currently in political power. Therefore, doing all they can to keep them in power would prove to be an irresistible enterprise. It is safe to assume that this aspect is part of the calculation of Meles Zenawi’s and his regime’s decision to giveaway Ethiopian fertile farmlands to foreign investors so easily and at will.

Read the complete article: