• Cameroon;
  • Chad;
  • indigenous peoples;
  • oil curse;
  • pipeline;
  • sustainable development;
  • World Bank


With the elaboration and diffusion of the concept of sustainable development, various projects have been defined as ‘sustainable’, even though they do not necessarily differ from what they would have been otherwise. Even extractive industries' activities, traditionally considered as both environmentally and socially harmful, have endorsed the sustainable development idea. We discuss the reasons why the Chad–Cameroon pipeline project, which aimed at being a ‘model’ project, did not meet the expectations in terms of sustainable development, putting the emphasis on its social dimension. Focusing on the World Bank, which played a key role in the implementation of the project, we critically examine the adoption of preventive measures, the identification of vulnerable populations and the level of participation of local populations. We argue that economic objectives still prevail over other considerations, and we question the very nature of the project as a (sustainable) development project. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment