Green aid? Controversy around a coal-fired power plant in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 3 (Reuters) – The World Bank has launched a probe into its procedures related to the approval of a $3.75 billion loan to South Africa’s Eskom, but the loan to the power firm is unlikely to be affected.

The bank in April approved the controversial loan — its first for South Africa since the end of apartheid — to fund development of a coal-fired power plant, despite the lack of support from the United States, Netherlands and Britain.

After residents from the northern Limpopo region, where the 4,800 MW Medupi plant will be built, protested that the project posed health and environmental hazards, the bank’s inspection panel recommended that a proper investigation into the allegations be conducted.

W.Bank probes $3.75 bln loan to S.Africa’s Eskom, Reuters.com

This story seems to perfectly encapsulate two of the most thorny issues with aid, development, and climate change:

1. the tradeoff between immediate improvement in standards of living in the developing world through energy infrastructure and the detrimental effects of coal-fired power plants, which are a a major source of atmospheric CO2 and local pollution,

2. the lack of transparency and easily available information on multilateral aid projects. Stories like these only serve to highlight why sources like AidData.org, which make data on multilateral aid projects easy to find and digest, are so crucial.

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