Human rights: World Bank suspends funding for Tanzanian tourism project

The World Bank calls Tanzania to order. The international institution has decided to suspend $150 million in financing for a tourism project in the center of the country. The reason: serious violations of indigenous rights documented by an American organization.

Ruaha National Park expansion project put on hold. For several months, the California-based Oackland Institute had been alerting the World Bank to abuses committed by park rangers.

At least twelve disappearances, multiple sexual assaults on women and the seizure of livestock from local farmers were documented by the American organization, which until then had been highly critical of the World Bank, accused of turning a blind eye.

The Regrow project began seven years ago. It impacts tens of thousands of villagers, according to the Oackland Institute, which even asserts in its report that the Tanzanian government’s objective is to evict almost 20,000 people living in the vicinity of the national park.

The World Bank’s decision is a serious wake-up call for the Tanzanian government, since tourism is a major source of revenue for the country, especially since foreign arrivals are set to increase by 24% in 2023. As a result, the government has made tourism its spearhead, multiplying the number of natural park extensions and working to diversify the sector.

Alex Khatib

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