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TANZANIA: The World Bank suspends funding for the extension of Ruaha Park

The World Bank has announced the suspension of $150 million in funding for the project to extend Ruaha National Park in south-west Tanzania. The decision, which took effect on 18 April 2024, follows repeated warnings from the Oackland Institute. The American human rights organisation documented abuses committed by forest rangers against local communities.
In an unprecedented move, the World Bank announced the suspension of $150 million in funding for a tourism project in Tanzania, following damning revelations about abuses of indigenous rights in the project area.
The Resilient Management of Natural Resources for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) project aims to improve the management of natural resources and tourism assets in a remote region of southern Tanzania. The project involves extending Ruaha National Park, the country’s second largest park with a surface area of 20,000 km2. However, reports produced over several months by the Oakland Institute have documented at least 12 disappearances or extrajudicial executions, as well as sexual assaults against women, perpetrated by forest rangers as part of the REGROW project.
The US-based rights group also says that thousands of head of cattle have been illegally seized and auctioned off, causing a serious deterioration in the livelihoods of local pastoralists. The group accused the World Bank of failing to take immediate action to stop abuses against local communities, resulting in serious and widespread harm.
Expelling nearly 20,000 indigenous people to develop tourism
According to reports from the Oakland Institute, at least $100 million has already been disbursed on the REGROW project since its launch in 2017. For Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, the suspension of World Bank funding, which came into effect on 18 April 2024, is a powerful reminder to take social and environmental responsibility into account when carrying out development projects. « This is a victory for Tanzania’s marginalised communities. This suspension sends a clear message to the Tanzanian government that human rights abuses committed in the name of tourism development will no longer be tolerated.
Tanzania relies heavily on tourism to fund its budget, especially as arrivals from abroad rose by 24% in 2023. This seems to have comforted the Tanzanian government in its frenzy to develop the tourism sector.
According to the Oakland Institute, the Tanzanian authorities also want to evict nearly 20,000 people living in the vicinity of Ruaha National Park, with the aim of developing tourism in the region.
Based in Oakland, California, the Oakland Institute is a progressive think tank founded in 2004 by Anuradha Mittal. Its work involves defending the rights of marginalised communities.
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