In Brief... DTE 53-54 - August 2002

Down to Earth No 53-54  August 2002

Kotopanjang dam victims to get compensation?

Over four thousand families forced to resettle on barren land due to a Japan-funded dam have become "developmental refugees" according to a Japanese newspaper report. The Kotopanjang dam in Riau, Sumatra was built on protected forest and the adat (customary) land of local communities in 1997 at a cost of 36.4 billion Yen, almost all of which was a Japanese government loan. 12,400 hectares of land was submerged and evicted communities given only Rp30 per square metre of farmland (then worth about 1.5 cents). Those who objected were intimidated by the military.

According to the Kyodo news report, diplomatic sources in Jakarta said that Japan had asked the Indonesian government to fulfil its pledge to the affected people. Some 3,000 people from 13 villages are also planning to sue the Tokyo district court to seek compensation from Japan.

The free electricity, clean well water, replacement rubber plantations and adequate compensation the resettled villagers were promised never materialised. The report describes how one family must travel two hours by boat across the reservoir in order to reach productive land on which to farm. (Kyodo 11/Jul/02 via Joyo Indonesia News)

Note: DTE reported this case from 1990 when the project, at the planning stages, was already criticised for the likely impacts on local people and the environment. See DTE 11:11; 14:10; 15:10; 17:15.


World Bank draft forest policy slammed

NGOs have criticised the World Bank's new draft Operational Policy on Forests, which was issued in June. In a letter to the Bank's president, James Wolfensohn, the NGOs said the draft ignored inputs from forest peoples organisations, NGOs and technical advisors who were invited to consult on the policy. It also ignored the findings of the Bank's Operations Evaluations Department - whose Indonesia study was highly critical (see DTE critique at

The draft policy also:

  • Fails to address the impact of structural adjustment programmes;
  • Lifts the ban on direct investment in large-scale industrial logging;
  • Fails to adequately address the issue of forest-dependent peoples;
  • Only applies to the IDA and IBRD lending arms of the World Bank Group and not others (the private sector investment lending arm, IFC, and the insurance arm, MIGA).

For an evaluation of the proposed policy see


Peasants' rights eroded by IFI policies

Violations of peasant farmers' rights have resulted in 800 million people short of food worldwide, of which a quarter are children under the age of five, according to Indonesian peasant union leader Henry Saragih. Speaking at a regional conference on peasant farmers' rights in Jakarta, April, Saragih accused international institutions of sidelining peasants' rights, by imposing structural adjustment programmes which harm farmers' interests.

The conference was organised by the Indonesian Federation of Peasants Unions and the Honduras-based international peasants movement, Via Campesina. (Jakarta Post 3/Apr/02; Suara Pembaruan 4/Apr/02)

The World Bank's new agricultural policy has been criticised for promoting the interests of agricultural corporations - see DTE IFIs Factsheet 23


Moronene people evicted

Indigenous Moronene villagers have been evicted once again from a national park in Southeast Sulawesi, according to information from Indonesian NGOs. At least 200 Brimob police and troops entered the village of Hukaeya and Laea at 5:00 am on May 1st to throw the villagers off their customary lands, which lie within the Rawa Aopa Watumohai park. This is the fourth time the community has been evicted. On previous occasions, their houses have been burned down and community members arrested. (See DTE 48 for background)