Unaccountable & Complicit: The World Bank Finances Evictions & Human Rights Abuses in Tanzania denounces the World Bank’s role in the violent conservation activities underway around the Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA). As the government plans to evict over 20,000 people from their land in order to expand the boundaries of the park, violence perpetrated by wildlife rangers and rampant cattle seizures are taking place to force people off their land.
The World Bank’s US$150 million Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) project helps the Tanzanian government “develop” four national parks through financing infrastructure, management, and alternative livelihoods for communities. Out of the four, RUNAPA is the only park receiving dedicated funding from REGROW, which will enable the government to go ahead with its plan to double the size of the park from one million to over two million hectares.
In October 2022, the government announced five villages in the RUNAPA area (Luhanga, Madundasi, Msanga, Iyala, Kilambo) with a population of 21,252 and an additional 47 sub-villages from 14 villages will be evicted – with their legal registration cancelled. The government claims the boundaries of RUNAPA have encompassed these villages since a Government Notice signed in 2008 but never implemented. The residents of the villages who have lived there for generations never gave their Free, Prior and Informed Consent to the decision. 852 villagers have filed a case to stop the eviction plans at the High Court of Tanzania at Mbeya.
The report reveals that the Tanzanian government blatantly violates the World Bank’s safeguards and procedures by planning evictions without a formal resettlement plan and due process for consultation and compensation. Yet, when informed of these abuses and violations of its own safeguards, the World Bank deflected blame and failed to take responsibility and action.
Park rangers who receive funding through REGROW have been allegedly implicated in murders of several villagers and numerous instances of violence since the project began in 2017. Field research collected numerous testimonies from villagers who faced sexual violence, brutal assaults, and inhumane treatment by rangers.
Government agencies have also been seizing cattle in large numbers. The enormous financial strain induced by these seizures undermines pastoralists’ livelihoods to force them out of the area. These actions contradict one supposed aim of the REGROW project to strengthen livelihoods for local communities.