Press Release: Over 50 Human Rights and Environmental Rights Groups Express Concerns over Opaque and Closed Access to Information Policy Implementation Review Process at the African Development Bank

Lamu, where the AfDB had initially committed to funding Kenya’s first coal-fired power plant before pulling out following community pressure. Source: Getty Images

June 1, 2021 — In a letter addressed to the African Development Bank, 50+ human rights and environmental rights groups are sounding the alarm over the categorical lack of transparency and meaningful stakeholder engagement on the part of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in the implementation review of its Disclosure and Access to Information (DAI) Policy.

“The right to information is a fundamental human right. Accessing information from the AfDB is a challenge at every level. The Bank claims to have a Disclosure and Access to Information Policy that elaborates on how information and consultations should be conducted — but this does not bear out in practice. The Bank should put their money where their mouth is and take steps to engage communities” — Civil Society Representative, Jamaa Resources Initiative

The Disclosure and Access to Information Policy at the African Development Bank is currently the primary framework through which affected communities, civil society, and other stakeholders can learn about the Bank, its operations, projects, and activities. The current policy was adopted in 2012 and has not been revised since. It is therefore alarming that most civil society organizations only learned the details about the implementation review process of the Disclosure and Access to Information only after civil society consultations had presumably concluded.

“The dates, timeline, and opportunities for engagement were not public. The Bank says it consulted with 20 civil society groups in the region, but it is not clear what process the Bank used in identifying and consulting with these groups. This could have been an opportunity for the AfDB to receive wide-ranging and valuable feedback on strengthening the bank’s disclosure practices and policy“— Elias Jika, International Accountability Project

As the letter notes, without transparency and accountability, communities are subject to devastating consequences to their homes, lives, and environment. It is critical that not only the Policy, but also the review process to determine said Policy be meaningful, robust, and open to a wide range of civil society stakeholders. The letter identifies the following steps the AfDB can take to initiate a more open, public, and equitable review process:

  1. Make publicly available, including in local regional languages, information about the Implementation Review Process, including materials, timelines, and opportunities for stakeholders to engage.

The letter was submitted to the AfDB on May 10, 2021. A response has not yet been received.

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Read the full civil society letter here.
For more information, please contact:
Elias Jika, International Accountability Project, elias [at] accountabilityproject [dot] org

IAP is a human and environmental rights organization that works with communities, civil society and social movements to change how today’s development is done.

IAP is a human and environmental rights organization that works with communities, civil society and social movements to change how today’s development is done.