Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
Listening and responding promptly to farmers’ concerns is one way the World Bank can make its agricultural development projects more effective, but many project managers have no idea how to find out what farmers really need. Since 1997, Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and our Indonesian partner, Yayasan Duta Awam (YDA), have been developing a new monitoring methodology that combines a grassroots survey of local needs with an evaluation of the World Bank’s compliance with its own pest management policy.
YDA monitored a multi-million dollar project known as the “Integrated Swamps Development Project” (ISDP), jointly financed by the World Bank and the Government of Indonesia. After three years of monitoring and making recommendations to government and World Bank officials, YDA and farmers in the project area achieved concrete improvements in the project, including addition of training in integrated pest management (IPM), in late 2000.
The main goal of the ISDP was to alleviate poverty by improving water control structures, increasing food crop and tree crop production and building or rehabilitating roads and drinking water facilities. YDA trained and assisted local farmers in conducting participatory monitoring of the Bank project’s impacts on their health, agricultural systems, use of toxic pesticides and economic and social well being.
Community members trained as monitors interviewed over 300 farmers from 15 villages in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Their investigation uncovered extensive problems in the project, including increased use of and dependence on chemical pesticides, a violation of the World Bank’s Safeguard Policy on pest management. (To view the World Bank’s pest management policy, go to
“The monitors found that 48% of the pesticides in Bank-financed input packages in Kalimantan were hazardous World Health Organization Class I and II pesticides, and 78% were Class I and II in Sumatra,” said Nila Ardhianie, Director of Yayasan Duta Awam. “Farmers reported declining health and noted hardening of the soil after excessive herbicide use, possibly due to death of soil organisms.”
The monitors found that farmers were not informed about the health effects of pesticides or the existence of alternatives; they also discovered decreased crop diversity and illegal sale of World Bank project pesticides in local markets. The community uncovered a host of other problems, including exclusion of women from agricultural training, poorly constructed or unfinished irrigation systems resulting in flooding of fields and villages, lack of transparency regarding terms of loan repayment, and widespread corruption.
The farmers developed a list of specific recommendations for project reform, which they presented to government and World Bank officials at precedent-setting provincial and national seminars, facilitated by YDA in 1998. A year later, little had changed. YDA, PANNA and farmers then worked together to expose inaccurate claims by World Bank and government officials that the farmers’ concerns had been resolved. By publicizing farmers’ own evaluation of the project–through both Indonesian and international media–the coalition pushed the Bank to re-open investigation of the project and begin implementing farmers’ recommendations. In Washington DC, PANNA mobilized the support of other international NGOs who amplified our local partners’ concerns, raising them in meetings with U.S. Congressional representatives and Directors of the Board of the World Bank.
By the end of 2000, important progress was achieved in Indonesia. The World Bank hired and placed “community organizers” in the field to respond to farmers’ concerns, and many of the corrupt practices by local agricultural extension workers were halted. A crucial factor in the campaign’s success was the arrival of a new World Bank project manager in 1999. The new manager, Ilham Abla, worked closely with NGOs in the remaining year to implement a number of the communities’ recommendations.
Abla noted that the World Bank rejected several proposed agricultural input packages for the swamps project because they included Class I and II hazardous pesticides. Abla also worked with the Indonesia Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that IPM training was conducted in the project areas. In addition, local agriculture offices initiated development of biological pest control methods, with the goal of replacing pesticides with beneficial organisms.
“This was a very good experience for the Bank,” Abla said. “We have included in the completion report a recommendation that future projects promote this system of involving the community in monitoring.”
Community-based monitoring provides a tremendous opportunity to transform problematic projects and improve policy compliance. PANNA and YDA recommend that the World Bank develop a transparent system that will secure independent monitoring and evaluation of all its projects, prioritizing problematic ones. The Bank must also ensure that monitoring results are translated into genuine project corrections in a swift and timely fashion.
This article is adapted from “Taking the World Bank to Task: A Case Study of Successful Community-Based Monitoring in Indonesia,” Global Pesticide Campaigner, Vol. 11, No. 1, April 2001, which will be available soon at http://www.panna.org.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.
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