World Bank Meets with San Representatives

On February 12-13, 2002, representatives of the various San organizations from across southern Africa met with representatives of the World Bank in Windhoek, Namibia to discuss issues surrounding the World Bank's indigenous peoples policy (see also CSQ 25:4). This meeting is one of several to be held with indigenous peoples' organizations in Africa by the World Bank, which is making a concerted effort to consult with indigenous organizations to assess their reactions to its revised policy. San spokespeople said they want to make sure that the policy is not watered down and that it meets the needs of all indigenous peoples.

The meeting, which was hosted by the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in Southern Africa (WIMSA), will also address major issues of concern to San, including:

—The impending forced relocation of San and Bakgalagadi out of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

—The cessation of the distribution of Special Game Licenses, the licenses made available to people in remote areas for subsistence hunting purposes.

—The possible resettling of more than 21,000 refugees from Namibian government refugee camp at Osire to M’Kata in Tsumkwe District West.

—The ongoing human rights concerns of San in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

It was confirmed at the World Bank-WIMSA San meeting that the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a consortium of development agencies that includes the World Bank, will be funding an extension of the Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Project in Namibia, a project that has, for the past decade, been supporting community-based natural resource management activities in the country, including those in the Nyae Nyae area where the first Namibian conservancy was established in 1998. Considering the ongoing crises in other areas, San representatives welcomed this news as a positive step.

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