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Civil Society Organizations Participate in AfDB Annual Meetings
The African Development Bank (AfDB) takes participatory development seriously. At its 2009 Annual Meetings in Dakar, civil society organizations participated in a full program organized to make their voices heard and to engage with senior managers about Bank projects. The Bank understands that sustainable development requires stakeholder participation.
Community-Driven Development: a sine qua non of Sustainable Development
Concern for stakeholder participation is not new. Since 2005, the Bank has organized training sessions on the Tools of Participation to make sure that bank staff and stakeholders learn the tools of the advocacy trade. The Bank’s 2008-2012 Strategy reflects what has been gleaned from, among other things, the unprecedented civil society organizations (CSO) participation in the Accra High Level Forum in September 2008. There, government accountability and client-oriented, results-based approaches were in the limelight. In a word, the people affected by development projects are closest to their realities: their voices are critical for making development institutions effective.
Civil Society Organizations Meet to Forge An AfDB Advocacy Network
A broad array of African civil society organizations met in Dakar. On May 10-12, they met together to forge a civil society advocacy network to make their priorities known to the Bank. During these two days of meetings, they listened to the results of five NGO studies, one from each African sub-region, on the impact of AfDB projects. Financed by the Bank Information Center and the Forum Africain des Alternatives, these reports analyze the trends and quality of AfDB assistance, the experience of previous engagement with civil society, investments in the extractive industries, and make suggestions for effectively improving the lives of the people in the region. On the basis of these reports, the CSOs made recommendations to the Bank.
Bilateral meetings between CSOs and Bank’s Managers
After these brainstorming meetings, the CSOs participated in three bilateral meetings to discuss specific Bank projects. The Ethiopia Gibe III hydroelectric power project was the subject of a complaint by a local NGO to which the Bank is responding. The Guinea Alumina project raises the question of transparency and accountability of governments for the revenues generated by the extraction of natural resources.
The Bank is supporting member countries to participate in the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) to make government revenues more transparent and governments more accountable for their spending. The third bilateral meeting addresses a critical resource: water. The Bank manages several Water Resource Management projects and the African Water facility. In addition to these meetings, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Office will make a presentation of its efforts during one of the many seminars organized at Annual Meetings.
Meetings with the Executive Directors
On May 11 and 12, 2009, the CSOs met with AfDB Executive Directors responsible for their respective countries to share their views on their on interactions with Bank Managers and other stakeholders during the Annual Meetings.
Questions and Answers
On May 14th, the Vice President for Operations, Zeinab el Bakri chaired a Question and Answer session. One objective will be to take stock of CSO participation during the Annual Meetings and forge a consensus on the way forward. The Directors for Governance, Infrastructure, the Private Sector, Compliance Review Mechanism Unit, the African Water Facility Initiative and the East and West Region Departments will be present. Ultimately, the shared goal was to maximize the effectiveness of development projects and the issue is how to have the Bank and civil society work together. Voices from the field must resonate in sustainable development projects, particularly during this difficult period of financial crisis.