World Bank development programs have caused 3.4 million persons to be displaced, and many bank-funded initiatives have given rise to human rights abuses.

These findings were revealed in a series of reports published by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and The Huffington Post (HP) in April.

The World Bank was established in 1944 and collaborates regularly with the United Nations. An article in the ICIJ/HP series explains the bank’s organization and lending process.

The World Bank’s stated purpose is to “end extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day to no more than 3 percent” and to “promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40 percent for every country.”

There are 12,257 bank-sponsored development projects in 173 countries currently, and their latest self-published scorecard highlights achievements in renewable energy and access to electricity, agriculture, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and disaster response.

Yet ICIJ/HP investigations have revealed that World Bank projects have had significant negative consequences for those it seeks to assist: the global poor.

Several World Bank-sponsored projects have forced millions from their homes and given rise to claims of human rights violations.

An urban renewal effort in Badia East of Lagos, Nigeria, resulted in impoverished persons being evicted and their homes destroyed without compensation.

A “villagization program” in Ethiopia forced 2 million to relocate to government-built homes. World Bank money designated for health and education was diverted to fund these evictions.

Negative environmental consequences in Peru resulted from a bank-sponsored gold mining company.

The Peruvian government has received much-needed income from the operation, but persons living near the mines continue to live in poverty, and local water sources have been contaminated.

“Communities displaced amid World Bank Group projects in Nigeria, Honduras, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Guatemala and Uganda have accused the organization’s borrowers of committing human rights violations,” reported ICIJ/HP, which interviewed local residents, human rights experts as well as current and former U.N. officials during its investigations.

“Over the past decade, the bank has regularly failed to enforce its rules, with devastating consequences for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet,” ICIJ/HP asserted.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim responded to the reports during a press conference at its spring meetings, expressing regret and concern about the resettlement practices.

“We are now reviewing our safeguards policies, and I am determined that we will learn from the past, and that we will do all in our own power to protect people and the environment,” Kim said.

The series of articles on the World Bank published by ICIJ and HP is available here.

Share This