MANILA (PHILIPPINES) – Thousands of protesters from the Philippines and abroad are set to converge on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters during its symbolic annual meeting in Manila, on Monday June 30.

“Experience shows that the privatization agenda of the ADB is incompatible with its stated mission of poverty alleviation. It is high time the bank started listening to poor people instead of filling the pockets of the corporations from its rich donor countries,” said in Manila Rod Harbinson, Friends of the Earth International coordinator on the ADB.

The growing catalogue of bungled ADB projects throughout Asia and the Pacific has attracted an international presence from Friends of the Earth representatives from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia and The Netherlands, and many organisations from countries such as Nepal and Japan, to name just a few.

Drowning in allegations of corruption and mismanagement the ADB is being criticized for a litany of failed projects relating to water. Slammed by its own inspectors report over the Samut Prakarn wastewater management plant in Thailand last year, the bank now has to deal with the prospect of its newly revised inspection mechanism becoming clogged with claims.

Samut Prakarn was recently halted by the Thai Government which plans to press corruption charges any day now. The ADB has absolved itself of blame despite being deeply engaged in the project planning and implementation, and looks likely to demand full repayment of its loan, much of which has disappeared into the pockets of contractors.

Nepali activist and lawyer Gopal Chintan will reveal on June 30 the findings of recent investigations into two ADB funded projects in Nepal – the completed Kali Gandaki ‘A’ dam and the proposed Melamchi water supply project. His umbrella group, the Water and Energy Users Federation-Nepal (WAFED), is demanding a review of both projects. In particular the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) are considered grossly inadequate. Furthermore people displaced or affected by the schemes are not being offered adequate compensation for their losses. Chintan says that if they don’t receive positive assurances soon they will be filing requests with the ADB inspection mechanism.

Meanwhile on June 26 the Philippines working group on the ADB, an umbrella of 10 groups including Friends of the Earth Philippines, hosted a packed conference criticizing the privatization policies of the ADB which have had disastrous consequences for water and energy services in the Philippines.

Having loaned $550 million for privatisation of the Philippines water sector the ADB is having to face up to collapse of the sector as private companies have hiked rates four-fold, sometimes for services that don’t even reach the tap. Far from increasing the number of connections as promised, cash strapped locals are crying out to the water companies to be disconnected to avoid sky-high charges for water that doesn’t arrive. International corporations Bechtel and Suez Lyonnaise are blamed for hiking rates at the demand of their ADB creditor. Meanwhile the ADB has shown little interest in their mission of ‘poverty alleviation’ and in particular connecting the 350,000 Manila residents still without water.


Rod Harbinson (Friends of the Earth International)
Phone: +63 (0) 9129 11160, Email: