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2SER: AidWorks 12th February 2014.

Aid/Watch’s Matt Hilton ADB’s report into Cambodian rail repair project

A scathing report into the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has found that its $143 million project to repair Cambodia’s rail system has left hundreds of impoverished families worse off. Over the decades it took for Cambodia’s rail system to fall into disrepair thousands of people moved into ramshackle housing along its 600 or so kilometre length.

They are described by the ADB’s internal watchdog, the Compliance Review Panel as poor but extremely industrious people, working hard to make a living. A project to repair the railroad, which was partly funded by AusAID, forced the relocation of more than 3,000 of them.

The 180 page report describes the project’s long list of failings as “a particularly grievous case”. Some people were moved 20 to 30 kilometres from work, they became victims of loan sharks with unmanageable debts, roads and services were poor, one medical facility was described as “appalling”. The report also concluded the project contributed to the circumstances causing the deaths of three children.

So to talk about the report, the rail project in general and what this may mean for future Australian Aid projects Rory O’Gorman was joined by Aidwatch’s Matt Hilton.