CONTRARY to claims made by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), its Water for All policy is a huge failure rather than a success, said Hemantha Withanage, executive director of the NGO forum on ADB.
Based on ADB's key findings, 54 percent of ADB's water loans approved for water policy adoption are consistent with the policy and the 20 percent of the water technical assistance projects examined, among others.
But Withanage said that the Asian lender failed to identify the countries in which these initiatives were implemented.
"The communities are struggling with their own governments against the pushing of ADB model policy. If the ADB water policy implementation is successful, why do communities in many Asian countries engage in these struggles?" asked Withanage, who represents an Asian-led network of nongovernment and community-based organizations.
Withanage cited the situation in Bangladesh in which the natural ecological cycle and diversity of fish, animal and plant life within its rich and alluvial delta has been irreparably disturbed by flood-control structures and drainage works by the Khulna Jessore Drainage Rehabilitaion Project.
Meanwhile, the Left Bank Outfall Drainage Project in Pakistan caused seepage into the agricultural land, which was exactly the opposite of what the project intended to accomplish.
"[These projects] lacked understanding and consideration for the numerous factors that contribute to the ecological balance and the benefits that can accrue from respecting the ecosystems," Withanage said. "Certainly, the environment is a complex thing, and extreme caution is needed in developing projects that tamper with the environment. In fact many groups contend that the projects should not alter the ecosystem."
He added that the ADB did not conduct comprehensive reappraisal of the project before it approved the project design and changes. A reappraisal would have delved deeply into potential social and environmental cost, he said.
He said that the ADB, in its headlong rush to implement projects in the water sector was consistently heedless of fostering and establishing genuine people's participation in each project.
"In the country experiences, it was consistently cited that for the most part, the people were unaware of project plans and purposes, especially the ones who were most affected by the projects. This has resulted in the grave consequences in many of the projects already mentioned," Withanage added.
--Mercedes E. Rullan