Main CDA findings (summary of the five reports)
The Army continues to use forced labor in Myanmar, despite laws prohibiting the practice since 1999. Total is very vigilant on this issue, and has developed an effective procedure for putting pressure on the authorities. Local people told CDA that there is no pattern of forced labor in the area. For them, Total has a good system for addressing allegations of forced labor.
Daily life in the pipeline region:
The presence of Total teams on site makes a decisive contribution to peace and safety in the region. The Group's principles of conduct are respected by everyone involved, including the Army. For instance, its careful driving policy and environmental protection measures are having a positive impact. Its initiative has promoted economic and social development, with benefits that are apparent in health care, in school enrollment and in signs of relative prosperity, including a large number of houses and stores built using more expensive materials, a wide range of products sold in the local market, and more motorized vehicles (taxis, buses and motorbikes).
The Socio-Economic Program (SEP):
This well-designed program is managed directly by a dedicated Total team. The inhabitants of the 25 villages concerned know about and appreciate the program, which is relatively far-reaching in scope since over one-third of the boarding students in the Kanbauk school, a quarter of outpatients and nearly a quarter of in-patients in the Kanbauk hospital come from outside the pipeline region. The CDA made special mention of the following points:
- The program's physicians, agriculturists and veterinarians live in the villages, ensuring ongoing contact with the inhabitants.
- The inhabitants appreciate Total's support in the area of infrastructure. However, in this impoverished region, they are primarily interested in the personal benefits generated by the Group's presence, such as jobs or outlets for their own businesses
- Through its operations, the rules that contractors are required to respect and the impact of the Socio-Economic Program, Total has created opportunities in the country and the region.
CDA recommendations and criticisms
In particular, the CDA recommends:
- Pursuing information campaigns for villagers on the program's economic aspect. This would give them a more direct understanding of assistance procedures so they are not overly reliant on the goodwill of Heads of Villages for access to this information.
- Implementing measures to make the VCCs more effective, such as training to improve administration of assistance programs and strengthening the organization in villages that joined the SEP in 2001.
- Fully integrating the SEP into Total's pipeline operations in Myanmar, by exploring the possibility of sourcing more supplies and contractors locally, which may require the introduction of appropriate training, and by increasing contacts between Total's operating teams and the local resident
- Designing programs to provide economic opportunities for the poorest.
- Making changes in the program to guarantee its long-term viability and to avoid overdependence on aid from Total. This might include introducing user fees for the more affluent and providing training for local medical assistants, veterinarians and agriculturalists, who will then be paid by the villages. Training villagers to manage economic programs and microcredits efficiently and transparently and designing future programs dependent on villagers’ initiatives to enhance their self-reliance and maintain infrastructure.
- Promoting periodic elections for Village Communication Committee positions.
- Discussing with the government possibilities to revamp the electrification scheme of the villages.
- Engaging systematically with local representatives of civil society.
- Focusing on increased sustainability and empowerment to make socio-economic development less dependent on activities by Total.