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Panel Marks 25th Anniversary in 2018

This year, the Inspection Panel celebrates the 25th anniversary of its creation by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors. To commemorate this important occasion, the Panel has planned a series of events.

On November 6 and 7, Panel will host the 15th Annual Meeting of the Independent Accountability Mechanisms Network, which is now comprised of 18 members representing all major bilateral and multilateral development banks. On the evening of November 7, the Panel will host an open event at the World Bank with a keynote address by an internationally known speaker on current accountability trends. Additionally, the Panel is working with the American University Washington College of Law to organize a conference on November 8 on accountability at international financial institutions. Finally, we are preparing a multimedia book on the Panel’s history that will be released at the November events.

Please mark your calendars and watch for updates on these activities.

Case Developments

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Second Additional Financing for the High-Priority Roads Reopening and Maintenance Project (Panel preparing Investigation Report)

The Inspection Panel is currently preparing its Investigation Report for the World Bank Board of Executive Directors. The Board approved the investigation on December 8, 2017, and a Panel team visited the DRC from January 17-31, 2018, traveling to Kinshasa and driving along the entire Bukavu-Goma road. During its visit, the Panel met with the complainants and other community members, non-governmental organizations, Bank staff, government officials, representatives of the implementing agency, the contractor, the environmental and social firm supervising safeguards issues and the supervising engineer.

An August 2017 Request for Inspection from two community members living in Goma and its vicinity alleged harm from the Bukavu-Goma road works financed under the project. The alleged harms focused on loss of property, but also included claims related to loss of livelihoods, gender-based and other physical violence against the community, labor issues and impacts on indigenous peoples.

A Panel team conducted an eligibility visit to the DRC from November 6-11, and in its November 21 Report and Recommendation to the Board, the Panel stated that the harms raised in the Request for Inspection and those it observed in the field are of a very serious nature and plausibly linked to the project and its implementation. The Panel recommended carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and potential non-compliance with Bank policies, especially those relating to the following policies: Environmental Assessment, Involuntary Resettlement and Investment Project Financing.

Bank management on November 27, partially suspended the DRC’s right to make withdrawals from the project credit amount. More

Uganda: Water Management and Development, and Energy for Rural Transformation Phase III Projects (Panel visited Uganda to inform its upcoming recommendation)

A Panel team visited Uganda from February 7-11, 2018, and is now in the process of preparing its recommendation to the Board of Executive Directors on whether an investigation of the projects is warranted. Last April, the Board had approved the Panel’s recommendation to defer by up to 12 months its decision on whether an investigation is warranted into the projects regarding alleged harm resulting from the Isimba Dam flooding parts of the Kalagala Offset Area (KOA) in Uganda. The Panel said the deferral would allow it to wait for the completion of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) addendum and any Bank follow-up actions before making its decision. The ESIA addendum, which has since been completed, assessed the impacts of the Isimba Dam construction on the KOA and proposed mitigation measures. While in Uganda in early February, the Panel team meet with the complainants and other project-affected people, World Bank staff, and representatives of several government agencies. More

India: Proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project (Deferral recommendation approved)

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on December 12, 2017, approved the Panel’s decision to defer its recommendation on whether an investigation is warranted of the proposed project. The Panel deferred its recommendation for up to six months after Bank management proposed additional actions designed to address the concerns raised in a Request for Inspection of the proposed project.

A May 2017 Request for Inspection was filed by landowners from the area proposed for the construction of the city. They allege harm from a land pooling scheme being used to assemble the land required for the city, as well as from other project activities. The Requesters claim harm related to their livelihoods, environment and food security, and allege a lack of consultation.

A Panel team visited India from September 12-15, 2017, and on September 27 the Panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the Board that recommended “carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related potential non-compliance with Bank policies, especially relating to involuntary resettlement.” On November 27, 2017, Bank management submitted to the Panel an addendum that offered clarifications, an update on project preparation and additional actions to “complement and clarify” the actions presented in its July 21, 2017, response in order to fully address the Requesters’ concerns.

After reviewing the addendum, the Panel submitted an updated Report and Recommendation to the Board. In the update, the Panel stated it was satisfied that the addendum and actions proposed by management “provide an opportunity for the Bank to address the Requesters’ concerns as identified in the Panel’s Report and Recommendation, and to introduce measures to ensure that the project’s preparation is in compliance with Bank policies and procedures.” Based on the addendum and the proposed actions, the Panel deferred its recommendation as to whether an investigation is warranted for up to six months. Within that period of time – when key planned assessment studies as well as other actions by management are expected to be completed – the Panel will inform the Board of its recommendation. More

Cameroon: Lom Pangar Hydropower Project (Notice of Registration issued)

The Panel on December 22, 2017, issued a Notice of Registration for a Request for Inspection of the project, the development objective of which is “to increase hydropower generation capacity and reduce seasonal variability of water flow in the Sanaga River and to increase access to electricity.” The Panel received the complaint on December 1, 2017, from two former workers of the project who allege indecent working conditions and accommodations for workers, issues with the payment of overtime work and allowances, and health and safety concerns. The Panel is now in the process of determining whether to recommend an investigation of the project to the Board. More

Bank Management Update – Action Plan Implementation Report

World Bank management in December released its latest report on implementation of its action plans. The action plans were developed in response to findings in Inspection Panel investigations, and have been approved by the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. Management, as requested by the Committee on Development Effectiveness of the Board, began submitting these biannual implementation reports to the Board in April 2016. In line with its Updated Operating Procedures and to promote transparency, the Panel publishes the management reports on its website.

Requesters Write Book on 2005 Panel Case in DRC

Two Requesters in a 2005 Panel case from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have written a book that reviews the evolution of relations between the Indigenous Peoples of the DRC and the World Bank more than a decade after the Request for Inspection was submitted.

The book – written by Willy Loyombo and Adrien Sinafasi and published in both French and English – demonstrates how, following the Panel case, an improved understanding of the situation of the Pygmies in the DRC led to a better relationship with the Bank and to Bank projects that were more responsive to the needs of this group of Indigenous Peoples. In the book, “The Indigenous Peoples of the DRC: Story of a Partnership,” the authors also show that by bringing a case to the Inspection Panel Indigenous Peoples in the DRC strengthened their capacity to defend their rights and to participate in development projects that affect them.

By supporting the publication of the book, the Panel hopes to provide a platform for the perspective of the Requesters to be heard a decade after the case. In this context, we are pleased to see that the Requesters considered the Panel case a starting point in the recognition of their rights as Indigenous Peoples in the DRC, as well as the beginning of important development outcomes for their benefit.

Panel Holds Video Conference with CSO Representatives in Portuguese-Speaking Countries in Africa

The Inspection Panel on December 13, 2017, held a video conference to explain its mandate and operations to about 60 civil society representatives in four Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa. Executive Secretary Dilek Barlas welcomed civil society representatives from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Operations Officer Tamara Milsztajn and Communications Consultant John Garrison then explained the Panel’s procedures and discussed the outcomes of some recent cases before taking questions on a range of topics including how World Bank and national safeguard policies interact, the Panel’s definition of harms, and how civil society can participate in the design and planning phase of Bank-financed projects. The civil society representatives who took part in the video conference represented a wide variety of types of organizations – community and faith-based groups, non-governmental organizations and foundations – and thematic areas such as rural development, gender, human rights and environmental sustainability. The video conference, organized with the help of local World Bank offices, is part of the Inspection Panel’s outgoing efforts to make stakeholders aware of its role within the Bank, and to listen to their perspectives and concerns. More

Panel Welcomes New Intern

Aice SchoonejansAlice Schoonejans joined the Inspection Panel as an intern in January, and is assisting the Panel with research work related to its cases. Alice earned a bachelor’s degree from Paris-Dauphine University in social sciences and a master’s degree from Paris-Sorbonne University in political and ethical philosophy. She is currently studying international affairs and sustainable development at Paris-Dauphine. More
About the Inspection Panel
The Board of Executive Directors created the Inspection Panel in 1993 to promote accountability and improve development results at the World Bank. The Panel is an independent complaints mechanism for people and communities who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected by a World Bank-funded project and wish to seek redress.
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