BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home

Feb 26 2001 CAA-OA: Asian Development Bank and Australia's role in the Mekong region
BD Editorial note:

The book 'Breaking the Banks', launched February 26, 2001, provides useful insights into the Asian Development Bank. Although the focus is on the Mekong region, this review has been included in BACK DOOR so that comparisons can be made with the Asian Development Bank's involvement in East Timor.

To find out more about the Asian Development Bank in East Timor see these articles:

The La'o Hamutuk Bulletin Volume 1, no. 4  31 December 2000

Access these articles at:

Asian Development Bank and Australia's role in the Mekong region

New Book: 'Breaking the Banks'

Community Aid Abroad - Oxfam Australia

The Impact of the Asian Development Bank and Australia's role in the Mekong region

A new book and campaign kit from Oxfam Community Aid Abroad

Around the world concern is rising about the growing power of international financial institutions, and their impact on the world's poorest people.

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad has produced a new book and campaign kit looking at one of the most powerful, yet least known, institutions in the Asia-Pacific: the Asian Development Bank (ADB). They are ideal for teachers and students interested in the
region, including Australia's role and that of globalisation. Check out campaigns or contact 1800 088 110 or your local state office to find out more.


The book examines the ADB's role in the Mekong region, and how it threatens the rights and livelihoods of millions. It also exposes the lines of accountability leading back home to Australia, one of the Bank's largest funders.

The book draws on the stories of women and men in rural Laos and Cambodia to show the real human impact of rapid social and economic change being driven by institutions like the ADB. It identifies competition for natural resources - rivers, forests and land - as the most important site of struggle between poor rural communities and the new global forces.

'Breaking the banks' is a metaphor for the annual cycles of the Mekong river - massive rises and falls generated by the annual monsoon rains. Millions of people live their entire lives on the Mekong's banks, tending their gardens and fishing. The floods are a
vital link in the chain of life along the river's 4,800 length, depositing fertile silt and triggering fish migrations and spawnings. The ADB's activities threaten subsistence communities reliant on this complex system.

As an ADB funder, Australia bears some responsibility for the Bank's impact in our region. This book is a wake-up call for Australia to look a the impact of its tax dollars in the international arena.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * HOW TO ORDER 'BREAKING THE BANKS' * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To order 'Breaking the banks', go to our website at, call our national office on 1800 088 110 or contact your local Oxfam Community Aid Abroad office.


Success stories of Mekong villages working to protect their resources, and the threat posed by ADB-style development. With discussion starter for high school up.

Ideal for schools and community education, kit comes with an overhead transparency map of the Mekong region, detailed notes for each slide and an issues overview.

TOTAL package
You get the book, slide kit, video with discussion starters,  two briefing papers plus campaign stickers and posters. Price incl. postage/handling in Australia.

To order any item in our campaign kit, go to our website at, call our national office on 1800 088 110 or contact your local Oxfam Community Aid Abroad office.

NB: Trade enquiries to

Complementary publication

The Australian Mekong Resource Centre has a working paper based on proceedings of the June 2000 'Accounting for Development' conference co-hosted with Oxfam Community Aid Abroad. Call (02) 9351 7796 or visit

Community Aid Abroad - Oxfam Australia
ACT office
1st floor, Griffin Centre, Bunda Street, Civic
Mail: GPO Box 1323, Canberra City, ACT 2601
Tel: 6257 4472    Fax: 6248 9248
Community Aid Abroad - Oxfam in Australia
CAA is an independent, Australian, secular and voluntary community-based organisation that brings together people from diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures in order to build a fairer world. Community Aid Abroad merged with the Australian Freedom From Hunger Campaign in 1992, and the combined organisation is the Australian member of Oxfam International.
CAAs work in East Timor includes rehabilitation of urban water supply systems; health promotion; capacity building with Timorese groups involved in environmental health activities, as well as other local community groups undertaking activities ranging from women's collectives, to human rights, and carpentry and other start-up ventures.
Homepage:  ETimor Webpage:

BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor home
Website: Email:
Snail mail: BACK DOOR, GPO Box 59, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia