This morning I joined activists from the World Development Movement who were protesting outside the Department for International Development against plans to channel climate change aid to Bangladesh through the World Bank.
I welcome the UK government’s offer of bilateral aid to Bangladesh for climate change adaptation, but like the Bangladesh government I fail to see the need for a multilateral organisation like the World Bank to control the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Climate Change (MDTF) that the UK proposes should administer the aid.
The strings the World Bank may attach to the aid are clearly a concern for the Bangladesh government – and rightly so, given the Bank’s record of insisting on the adoption of neo-liberal policies as a condition for economic assistance to developing countries. And the exhorbitant fees charged by the World Bank for administering the fund would divert money away from the basic task of dealing with the consequences of global warming.
Bangladesh already has Trust Fund of its own and is in the process of setting up a management team for it. The Bangladesh government proposes that the MDTF should be managed by the same unit. While there is no objection to the World Bank acting as a technical consultant on behalf of the donors, the administration of the aid should be in the hands of a national unit.
It is important that these concerns are addressed at the donor conference currently under way in Dhaka and that we show full confidence the civilian government elected in Bangladesh. So it is a big yes to bilateral aid but a no to control by the World Bank.