WB Promotes Pakistani Indigenous Communities

In every region of the world, many different cultural groups live together and interact, but not all of these groups are considered indigenous or native to their particular geographic area. Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to others, and to the environment. There are an estimated 370-500 million indigenous people in the world, spread across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5,000 different cultures.

The World Bank’s policy towards indigenous peoples dates back to 1982 and was designed initially to consider the needs of relatively isolated tribal groups affected by development projects. It focussed mainly on the protection of land rights and the provision of health services, particularly in relation to forest-dwelling indigenous peoples in lowland South America.

In 1991, the World Bank issued a revised policy (OD 4.20) which extends the definition of indigenous peoples to include a much wider array of peoples who maintain social and cultural identities distinct from those of the national societies where they live, who have close attachments to their ancestral lands, and who are often susceptible to being disadvantaged in the development process.
This policy is currently applicable to all Bank-financed projects identified as affecting indigenous peoples. While maintaining the protective measures of the earlier policy, OD 4.20 focusses particular attention on the rights of indigenous peoples to participate in and benefit from development projects. Special procedures are outlined in the policy for incorporating indigenous peoples concerns into Bank-financed projects through the design of Indigenous Peoples Development Plans.

Since OD 4.20 became effective, more than 150 Bank-financed projects worldwide have been identified as affecting indigenous peoples, many of which have Indigenous Peoples Development Plans or strategies for ensuring that indigenous peoples receive culturally-appropriate benefits. While in the past, many of these investments were in the infrastructure and energy sectors, today an increasing number are in the fields of education, health, community development, agriculture, natural resources management and land tenure security.

Like other parts of the world, Many Indigenous People live within the borders of Pakistan. The people of Kalash are one of the oldest indigenous communities in Pakistan, and one of few surviving indigenous cultures in the world. The Kalash live in three valleys (Bumboret, Birir and Rumbur) by the Afghan border in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Kalash – believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great are residing in 15 villages of Ayun Union Council of Chitral district of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.

They are identified as indigenous peoples due to their distinct tribal customs, religion and a unique Kalash language. The total population of these 15 villages is 17,994 with 3,628 (1,729 women). Additionally, 556 Kalash people are settled in rest of the Chitral District, making the total estimated Kalash population as 4,184 (as extrapolated from 1998 census). The community still relies mainly on their indigenous sources of livelihood; however, the community does not have a unique source of livelihood as these traditional occupations are shared with other ethnicities and tribes in the region.

The recent transition to a cash based economy has rendered the Kalash to be the poorest community of the region. Just two villages of Bamburet and Rumboor Valleys have majority of Kalash peoples while in five other villages Kalash are in significant numbers but not in majority. The World Bank continues to deepen its understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ priorities, needs, and issues through direct dialogue with Indigenous Peoples’ organizations at the global, regional, and national levels, through analytical studies, and the implementation of projects and programs that involve participation of Indigenous Peoples.

Each year the World Bank participates in international Indigenous Peoples’ fora, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The Bank builds on relationships with communities at the country-level as well as their representative organizations that participate in regional and global fora and processes on climate change, environmental and forest management, and other development issues. A network of Regional and Global Focal Points has been established, consisting of staff with expertise on Indigenous Peoples’ issues across different regions.

This network will increase the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples into the main country planning systems, specifically the Systematic Country Diagnostics (SCD) and Country Partnership Frameworks (CPF). In Pakistan world bank is working in collaboration with other organizations, those who are engaged to serve the indigenous communities living here. The basic purpose is to work together for securing their right and to promote their culture.

Recently Nomad Centre and Art Gallery in collaboration with World Bank has arranged an event. The event was actually a continuity of the project for indigenous communities of Pakistan. The launch event has given chance to kalash community to present their abilities. It was also a moment to promote the traditional and cultural norms of the people of kalash. In short a chance has been given to them. it was followed by the wonderful performance of the Kalash cultural dance performance and other related activities. It was not the first time when World Bank has come up for any such purpose.

Previously The World Bank funded projects and activities governed by social and environment safeguard Operational Policies, which were designed to ensure that the projects are economically, financially, socially and environmentally sustainable. The World Bank Policy 4.10 on Indigenous People is triggered when a project/subproject either positively or negatively and directly or indirectly affects the Indigenous People’s dignity, human rights, livelihood systems or culture. Pakistan has also voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.
As of April, 2017, the World Bank Pakistan portfolio has 29 investment lending projects under implementation with a total net commitment of $5.4 billion. During fiscal year 2016, the World Bank commitments amounted to almost $2.3 billion. FY17 commitments to date are approximately $0.8 billion. IFC’s advisory services program in Pakistan is one of its largest in the region, with 17 active projects and a funding commitment of about $25 million.

The Declaration provides for all sorts of rights for the Indigenous Peoples but does not bind the member states to legislate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples; hence is of limited value to the Indigenous as far as practical benefits to them are concerned. This limitation has overshadowed any efforts to provide constitutional and legal protection to these vulnerable communities. The World Bank Operational Policy 4.10 (Indigenous Peoples), 2013 contributes to the Bank’s mission of poverty reduction and sustainable development by ensuring that the development process fully respects the dignity, human rights, economies, and cultures of Indigenous People.

For all projects that are proposed for Bank financing and affect Indigenous People, the Bank requires the borrower to engage in a process of free, prior, and informed consultation, resulting in broad community support to the project by the affected Indigenous People. In an effort to address new development demands and challenges, from 2012 to 2016 the Bank undertook an extensive review process to update and consolidate the Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies and Indigenous Peoples were an integral part of the dialogue around this review.

Around the world, Indigenous Peoples face escalating attacks as well as arrests for refusing to give up the lands they have called home since time immemorial. Seeing evidence of this violence on my visits has been particularly distressing. Pakistan is proceeding ahead as a progressive nation. The communities living here are fully safe and have the right to live their life being a free citizen. Still, there are few areas which need more attention.

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