Previous Work upon which this Worst Investment Award will be Built On Giving out shame awards to delinquent and human rights violator corporate and financial institutions have always been effective tools to educate the public, and other stakeholders to the negative impact to society and nature of such offenders. In the field of mining, the Mining Watch C, in its 2003 Dirty Diggers Award gave a joint award to the US Freeport and UK based Rio Tinto for their destruction of mineral deposits at Grasberg, West Papua, Indonesia. (http://www.miningwatch.ca/…).
The International Rivers Network (IRN) South Asia Campaign, namely the Environmental Clearance Watch (ECW) on the occasion of the Bhopal Anniversary hosted the Hall of Shame Awards where project proponents and environmental impact assessment consultants of the worst EIA reports will be awarded (http://www.irn.org/…).
The UN Habitat publication (http://www.unchs.org/…) as well as Philippines newspapers cite the impact of the Annual River Poisoner Award or the Lason sa Pasig Award, launched the first time way back in 1994 by the riverside communities called Ugnayan ng Alyansa ng mga taga Hog Pasig (Alliance of Riverside Communities) which organized and advocated for the balance between environmental and housing and tenure issues.
The ongoing work of the Beme Declaration Public Eye Award is likewise undertaken in the same spirit of keeping up the pressure and critical discourse to develop policies and practices in trade and economics that will not only benefit an elite while the broad population are deprived of opportunities for survive and development as individuals and as communities.
As members of social movements which promote development policies, investments which create opportunities for the broader and marginalized segments of society, it is quite urgent that the public mind and heart condemn the irresponsible corporate investments resulting to violation of human rights, destruction of natural environment which threaten ecological balance to rural and urban habitat.
The interconnection of such destructive investments to multilateral banks such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the second largest bank in the world providing financial investments/loans in the Asian continent and other parts of the globe must likewise be challenged.
While The World Bank kept away from giant projects in the last few years, under its new leader Wolfowitz indicated that it will pursue high risk projects in 2006. Criticized for its participation in the Chad Cameroon oil pipeline and the Baha Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey due to human rights violation, the bank’s tendency for destructive mega projects must continuously be questioned and challenged.
New investment going on developing countries in Asia, such as Philippines, India, Indonesia come from Japan, South Korea and China. Last year the Philippine government implemented phase one of the North rail project, evicting some 18,000 families from three cities in Metro Manila and 6 municipalities in Bulacan province. A fund for the North rail project comes from a $l billion loan provided by the People’s Republic of China for the actual construction of the railroad.
This year the Philippine government has begun implementing the first phase of Southrail project, evicting some 4,000 families mostly from Makati City. Some 50,000 families will evicted by the Southrail project. The funds will come from the Korean government via a $200 million loan for the construction of the railroad. The railways project will push until the Southern tip of Luzon and will be funded by the People’s Republic of China via $lbillion loan for the construction of the railroad.
There is no potable water, electricity is unstable and in five relocation sites the temporary electrical connections were cut by the developers because people say the government told them to pay only when permanent connections are installed, there are no schools in the relocation sites but classes will open early this month. There are no clinics. One manifestation of the bad situation is that although some 70% of the 20,000 families have built their houses, only 50% have occupied them, preferring to go back to where they originally came from, either staying with relatives or renting some small rooms.
In the Southrail, the government has transferred some 4,000 families to the Cabuyao relocation site, 30 kilometers away. There is no potable water, electricity is available only between 6:00 PM to 6:OO AM but there are no street lights. There are some school classrooms but these cannot be ready for the class opening this month. There are no clinics. There are no jobs near or in the relocation site, so bread earners have to commute each day to Metro Manila where they have work. The government does not always observe the subdivision regulations on mandatory provision of paved roads, availability of water and electricity in the relocation sites.
Whether it is against the mega dam to be built over the Narmada River in India or the Kalabagh dam between Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan, communities that share a legacy of oppression, social exclusion and economic deprivation vow to resist this aggressive brand of development.
This development comes at the expense of fisher communities and often also entails eviction of tens of thousands of people living in settlements on the banks of the rivers and their tributaries. In the end, copious water runs from their taps and their houses are lit with electricity. Most of them are never aware of the human costs of the facilities that come their way.
According to a country survey on India by World Commission on Dams India, at least 75 percent of some 40 million people displaced for large dams in India over the past five decades have never been resettled.
Proposals for a global strategy
What the worst award will highlight and aim to accomplish in the Asian region
While existing and previous shame awards underscore the negative impact of corporations, finance institutions to nature and communities resulting from extractive industries such as mining, logging, as well as mega infrastructure such as dams, or depriving workers of fair and responsible labour practices, or polluting establishments and industries and neglected sewerage metropolitan systems killing major rivers, there is no shame award that focuses on the negative impact of investments in mega infrastructure, or industries / financial institution’s policies which continue to kill infants, women, elderly, and other vulnerable communities and their livelihood.
The Worst Investment Award will highlight on such projects which destroy communities, cultural diversity and opportunities for sustainable development as well as economic and human solidarity among grassroots people and their networks. These networks can be from the neighbourhood, to intercommunity to national and across regional neighbors levels. For instance, major investments in major riverside development may be traced to major multilateral banks as well as mega dams in the highlands of Asia. The corporations who provide the financial and technical support to carry out these destructive projects can be challenged through these shame award.
The Award shall also provide an opportunity for grassroots communities and NGOs and international solidarity networks to pool their data, experiences and analysis together and present the pressure action and critical discussion in public for publications in media, and creative and enjoyable cultural activities which empower the marginalized and strengthen their solidarity for changing such corporate and financial institutional behavior that simply seek profit and do not respect nature and human life.
Social Costs for the People
Low income, urban poor families who evolve into informal settlements consist of the most affected population when development investments are introduced through local, private and /or- international investments.
The body of knowledge, both in the short term and long term social and economic aspects of displacement resulting from development investments in the fields of infrastructure and revenue raising commercial development (Cemea,et al) all point out to further impoverishment of families. Disruption of their subsistence livelihood, breaking up the family, since the working members of the family, usually returns to the place of work and live as transient close to it and comes home only the weekends. It is also possible that the daily minimum wage that is earned by the working family member will be used for the additional transportation costs to commute daily and there is barely enough left for the basic family needs for food, education of children, health, etc.
Any sudden illness of family member further aggravates the condition of displacement and can force the family that has received a relocation benefit to sell the rights of such a benefit to get over the unexpected crisis.
The loss of access to educational facilities, mostly public schools where school aged children can go to primary and secondary school is also an immediate and major effect of such displacement. The same loss of access to public health facilities, both preventive and curative, as well as reproductive, maternal and infant care lead to grave threats to expectant and nursing mothers and infants.
In the history of resettlement, the absence of potable water for drinking is almost, always the rule. Since the resettlement is always a distant relocation site, the sanitation and sewerage systems are likewise absent.
The health and environment costs are quite high for affected families, particularly the vulnerable members of the families.
Furthermore, the so called « social capital » built from solidarity and mutual help among depressed communities is immediately destroyed. Such social capital evolves from the need to provide mutual help and support in the form of cash, care giving for elderly or sick, looking after neighbour’s young children, etc.
As most cases of eviction illustrate, the atmosphere of divisiveness and conflict, can immediately set in, if the organizing process and consensus building and crisis intervention in the face of eviction threat is not addressed immediately.
The loss of the community, both in the physical and social realms are tremendous pressures that individual members of the family confront.
Due to poverty and isolation-arising from non-compensation or inhumane resettlement sites, forms of survival can range from illegal and criminal and petty offences, as well as health threatening practices from waste picking, beggary, prostitution. Street children as well as child labourers can likewise occur due to poverty, isolation and lack of access to basic services.
The cost for families affected, its short and long impact are tremendous and can be life and death conditions. The conditions arising room displacement bring pressure to the broader society which will confront the manifestations of such negative impact.
Capacity of Social Development of Resistance Movement
The threat of eviction is a crisis that individuals, communities and neighbourhood and social movements are opportunities for developing resistance capacity. Such a capacity consists of breaking the sense of fear and helplessness that communities face, the possible division among members of families and communities on what options to pursue. The capacity to leadership and consensuses building and undertaking research to develop analysis and options for the affected groups, mobilising support groups, from church, academe, technical planners and scientists are all crucial in the capacity building for resistance.
The creation and sustenance of a neighbourhood / federation / city level or other forms of social movement demands also the development of public opinion. The ability to mobilise great numbers of communities’ members, support groups and bring about a public discourse on the issue and the role of the state, or local authorities involved, the awareness of the social costs as well as the perspective of citizens’ rights / human rights in such a debate form integral aspects of development of resistance capacity.
The establishment of allies in the various levels of authorities and decision making both in the local and international are also crucial ingredients to resistance capacity.
The Role of LOCOA (Leaders and Community Organizers of Asia)
LOCOA which is works to develop solidarity among the grassroots organizations of Asia and support NGOs and networks will serve to develop the Worst Investment Award, its criteria, selection process and mechanism, its program of awarding.
It shall seek to cooperate with individuals and organizations which aim to develop the values of solidarity, cooperation, cultural diversity and dialogue, and opportunities for fair trade.
This concept paper aims to highlight the urgency of strengthening and broadening creative forms of advocacy, pressure and counter discourse, critical discussion in the context of resistance capacity development of social movements. This concept paper likewise attempts to formulate concrete proposals and strategies from communities directly affected and developing links between the local and global strategies. It will contribute to basic respect for human life and nature among the corporations which dominate much of economic, politics and society in general.
Leaders and Organizers of Community Organization in Asia (LOCOA), increased its membership and the number of contact groups to more than 100 organizations or individuals in 16 countries. LOCOA facilitated exchanges and training on community organizing in poor urban communities and co-ordinate regional alerts in cases of illegal eviction. LOCOA was able to stop forced evictions in Metro Manila, organize signature campaigns to halt demolitions and look into violations of housing rights in Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia and India.
All of LOCOA’s work is human rights. We work for poor peoples housing rights (including water, drainage, sanitation, income improvement and people’s right to organize).