The African Development Bank Must Strengthen its Information Disclosure Practices and Policies to Center Communities in the Development Process

Project affected community members protesting the illegal displacement by the African Development Bank-financed Wadelai Irrigation Scheme Project in Uganda
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
Women in front of the Sendou plant financed by the AfDB. Image from Vice article: This Tiny Fishing Town Was Poisoned By a Coal Plant. The Government Is Trying to Replace it With a Mine
Review the Early Warning System data visualization of the projects from the African Development Bank: https://bit.ly/IAP_AfDB_Analysis
  1. The level of disclosure for information on project-specific environmental and social risks and mitigation is one of AfDB’s weaker disclosure practices. Not one of the 179 projects (0%) in our dataset provided an overview of the adverse environmental and social impacts likely to result from a project on the project web page, requiring communities to pore through dense project documents to obtain such information, where disclosed. There was moderate disclosure of adverse environmental and social impacts, but the majority of projects, or 97 of 179 projects (54%) did not have project-specific impacts disclosed.
  2. Also poor is the AfDB’s disclosure of information on the applicable environmental and social safeguards that have been triggered by the project: 123 of 179 projects (69%) did not clearly indicate which AfDB’s safeguards were triggered, limiting the ability of communities to ascertain what standards and entitlements apply to the project. When, in fact, a list of the applicable standards was available, it was again disclosed only within technical documents.
  3. While the institution routinely disclosed AfDB contact information on its project webpages for 145 of the 179 projects in the dataset (82%) — lead contact information for the borrower or client was not disclosed for 161 of 179 projects (90%).
  4. The majority of projects — 122 of 179 projects (69%) — had project documents disclosed in a language other than English. Despite the geographic scope of AfDB’s investments, however, none of the projects had translations in Arabic, Kiswahili, Portuguese, or other local languages. This practice should be strengthened to include translated documents in other regional languages.
  5. Only 2 out of the 179 projects (1%) disclosed the actual plans for stakeholder engagement, ultimately erecting barriers for communities and civil society groups seeking to meaningfully engage and be consulted on the project, its benefits, and risks.
  6. Concerningly, only 5 of the 179 projects (3%) disclosed information about the Independent Review Mechanism, the AfDB’s independent accountability mechanism, in project documents, effectively hampering the accessibility of the mechanism for communities. The AfDB should routinely disclose information about the Independent Review Mechanism on project disclosure pages and project documents, and require its borrowers to disclose the existence of and procedures for accessing the mechanism from the very beginning of the project cycle, in local languages and in formats that are more available to marginalized communities.

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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.

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IAP

IAP

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.

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