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Asian CSOs Urge Leaders to Reject ADB’s Strategy 2020 Framework


By voice - Posted on 05 May 2008

MADRID, Spain - By IFI Water Watch
Civil society organizations from Asia urge their leaders attending the 41st Governors’ Meeting to reject the pro-privatization and anti-poor Strategy 2020- the new long-term strategic framework of the Asian Development
Bank- which is part of the agenda of the meetings in Madrid, Spain, from May 3-6. Contrary to its corporate vision of ‘An Asia and Pacific Free of Poverty’, the Strategy 2020, which replaces the long-term strategic framework 2000-2015, will actually lead to increased poverty, debt, hunger and environmental plunder in the region.
The strategy aims to create a business-friendly environment and increase public-private partnerships to at least 30% of total activities by 2020. The strategy also aims to scale up private sector development and private sector operations to 50% by 2020 in core areas such as environment, finance sector development, regional cooperation and integration, education, and infrastructure (including water, sanitation and waste management).

According to Ahmed Swapan of VOICE, Bangladesh and a member of the Water for the People Network (WPN), ADB's Strategy 2020 will only pressure governments of member countries to open up their public services to corporate interests. By giving out loans, the ADB is putting a higher price tag on basic social services such as water, electricity, among others due to loan conditionalities such as privatization, increased rates and application of the full cost-recovery principle, as in the case of the Melamchi Water Supply in Nepal wherein ADB is the lead financier.

Unfortunately, privatization of basic services has not led to better services and poverty alleviation in the region. Janaka Withanage of the Green Movement of Sri Lanka and WPN says, ‘The loans have so far been almost completely wasted with very marginal positive impact on the citizens’. Withanage adds that ADB-funded water projects such as the Upper Watershed Management Project caused great environmental and social damages to the areas where it was implemented in Sri Lanka. The ADB allocated US16.6 million concessional loan to rehabilitate the upper watersheds in Uma Oya, Walawe Ganga, Kirindi Oya and Kalu Ganga suffering from forest degradation. But instead of increasing forest cover, raising crop productivity and contributing to poverty alleviation in the affected communities, the project was plagued with corruption issues and was not successful in addressing the deforestation and soil degradation problems.

Ava Danlog of the IFI Water Watch, takes note of the US$10.1 billion disbursed loans in 2007, a 37% increase from 2006 and the highest in ADB's 41-year history. Danlog adds, ’What has this increased lending got to show but a trail of displaced communities, increased water tariffs, corruption and environmental plunder? Strategy 2020 will only double or even triple the disaster that ADB has brought to the region so far’.Danlog also says that ADB is taking advantage of the current crisis in food, water, oil and even climate change to bring forth a false solution.

Ahmed Swapan says that ADB, despite numerous protests, has consistently turned a deaf ear on the demands of CSOs in the region such as an alternative financial mechanism, equal and fair economic governance structure, compensation for communities affected by ADB-funded projects, consultations, and accountability. Withanage adds that ADB must implement better safeguard policies and stop the privatization of basic services. ‘The welfare and future of the poor and marginalized in Asia are at stake. CSOs and communities must unite and urge their leaders to oppose the Strategy 2020 and instead, bring to the table genuine pro-poor policies,’ Danlog says. She adds, ‘For an Asia and Pacific free of poverty to materialize, we need an Asia and Pacific free of debt, hunger, corruption, soaring prices and privatized services. We need an Asia and Pacific free of ADB’.
For more details, please contact:
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud in Madrid at ahmed.swapan(at)gmail.com
Ava Danlog (Philippines) at adanlog(at)ibon.org
Rabin Subedia (Nepal) at subedirabin(at)gmail.com
Janaka Withanage (Sri Lanka) at ifiwatch(at)greensl.net

IFI Water Watch is the first and only monitoring body working on
IFI-funded water projects in Asia. It is a program of the Water for the
People Network, a broad alliance of water organizations in the region.