SiLNoRF and Bread For All release 2014 Annual Monitoring Report on the Addax Bioenergy Project in Sierra Leone

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SiLNoRF and Bread For All | 26 June 2014

Joint Media Release by SiLNoRF and Bread For All on the 2014 Annual Monitoring Report on the Addax Bioenergy Project in Sierra Leone

Monitoring Report 2014 PDF

MAKENI-The Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF) and Bread For All (BFA) launches on Thursday 26th June 2014 this year’s Monitoring Report on the sugarcane-to-ethanol project of the Swiss firm Addax Bioenergy. The monitoring has been launched alongside the Maiden edition of SiLNoRF’s News Letter.

This year’s monitoring Report highlights some of the changes that took place during the period under review. Below is a brief highlight of some of the positive changes that has taken place;

    There has been an increase of household income in villages close to the ethanol factory of Addax. These villages provide many workers to Addax;

    Addax remains open for dialogue with its stakeholders in Sierra Leone;

    Addax paid the land lease fees according to the provisions of the Land Lease Agreements and the compensation payments for destroyed crops and economic trees in May and June 2014
    Addax constructed new water well in 2013 in the Romaro community (more than two years after Addax altered a water source in the community); however the water well broke down two months after completion;
    There is an increase in the number of workers employed by Addax and its contractors. Addax workers have written work contracts; they are provided with medical treatment in case of accidents. Addax provides skills training for a significant number of workers.

In the midst of all these positive changes, there are a number of concerns that should be addressed. These concerns includes:

    The Government of Sierra Leone has increased the minimum wage to SLL 480’000 per month (USD 109) in 2014 for public sector workers. Salaries at Addax are lower than this minimum wage in the public sector, as Addax is paying SLL 400’000 (USD 91) per month (lowest salary grade). At VinMart, a security company working for Addax, security agent is paid SLL 350’000 (USD 80) per month. Moreover, the salaries cannot be considered as “living wages” as the monthly expenses of a rural family amount to a minimum of SLL 633’000 (USD 144). Moreover, half of the worker are casual workers.
    Community members at Lungi Acre reported that a member of parliament promised that Addax would use the bolilands in their village only for a period of 3 years and this period of 3 years terminates in 2013. Addax claims that it has never made this promise. This is a potential source of conflict.
    Social obligations: Many communities raised the issue of ‘promises’ by Addax and local leaders to provide one or more of the following: jobs, boreholes, schools, clinics and community centres. Communities expressed disappointment that their expectations were raised and then dashed. They bemoaned the lack of any enforceable written commitment from Addax on these issues and their consequent inability to hold the company accountable. Addax denies having made any promises.
    Complaints about free prior and informed consent (FPIC) on some clauses in the land lease agreement: Land owners claimed that from the start, both Addax and local authorities said that only degraded and marginal lands would be used for the project. Most importantly, the lease covered entire villages including residential areas, roads, forests, etc., even though Addax operations are limited to smaller areas. Land owners and inhabitants said that it was never their intention to lease their entire community land to Addax. Addax however claims the land lease agreements were done with FPIC.

    Landowners complained that the rent paid by Addax per acre did not reflect the benefit they were giving up. They claim that the amount for rent was fixed without consulting them. The rent, like all the other clauses of the lease, should be the subject of negotiation not imposition.
    The compensation for destroyed palm trees is too low and do not compensate the land owners for their losses.
    The Farmer Development Programme (FDP) is a programme of Addax to mitigate its impact on food security. However, many communities indicated that the 2013 rice harvests on the FDP fields were low in two out of three Chiefdoms and therefore not sufficient to ensure their food security because of low soil fertility or late ploughing by Addax, among others.
    Many villagers, especially women, stated their access to bushes to fetch firewood and sticks was limited
    The Addax project has an indirect impact on remaining bushes and forests in the project area, as it cleared a total of 4’000 hectares of bushes. Villagers and charcoal producers will likely turn to the remaining bushes and/or forests to get firewood or to produce charcoal.
    Less than 10% of the workers at Addax are women.

    The Government of Sierra Leone granted very favorable tax exemptions to Addax that will allow the company to save USD 135 million on its tax bill over the next ten years.

In line with the above, The National Coordinator of SiLNoRF Mohamed S. Conteh, has stated that “even though there are issues of concern on Addax project, some positive changes are being recorded during the period under review”.

Conclusion

SiLNoRF and BFA acknowledge that the project has some positive impacts but the negative impacts are significant and need to be addressed. It is worth-noting that an urgent need to renegotiate the land lease agreement is obvious so that some clauses that are not in the interest of the land owners. Yvan Maillard Ardenti, Programme Officer of Bread for all, stated that “we need to continue to monitor both the issues of concern and the positive developments in the future”.

For more information:

Mohamed S. Conteh

National Coordinator

Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food (SiLNoRF)

62 Magburaka Highway- Makambo, Makeni,

P.O Box 5, Makeni, Sierra Leone

T +232 76 687 091/+232 88 916 263

[email protected]

Yvan Maillard Ardenti

Programme Officer Development Policy

Bread for all

Bürenstrasse 12, CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland

Tel. +41 31 380 65 73; +41 79 267 01 09

[email protected]
Original source: SiLNoRF
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