The Role of NGOs in Facilitating Access to Independent Accountability Mechanisms for Project Affected People
CRMU and the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group (a Lagos-based mediation center) organized a national workshop on 9 February 2009 in Lagos, Nigeria. The workshop brought together 38 participant NGOs from thirteen states in Nigeria- Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Abuja, Ebonyi, Kwara, Osun, Gombe, Plateau, Zamfara, Rivers, Enugu and Delta State-and specialized on governance, environment, gender, accountability, citizens rights and community development. The objective of the workshop was to raise awareness of participants on the African Development Bank’s IRM and other accountability mechanisms of participant International Financial Institutions (IFIs)-namely the Office of Compliance, Advisor and Ombudsman of the IFC, and the Office of Accountability of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation- an agency established by US government to help US businesses to invest overseas. The participants exchanged views on the faced challenges in implementing the outreach strategies of the independent review mechanisms (IRMs) including the difficulty in identifying project affected communities; language barriers; access to projects’ information by NGOs; reluctance of NGOs to engage in consultations with IFIs; lack of NGOs capacity to manage and utilize project information; and issues of trust among NGOs and the IFIs. The suggestions focused on how best to ensure that the information acquired from the workshop is carried forward to the communities and other NGOs. The main recommendations included: NGOs should engage in outreach of the IRMs’ through reasonable means such as helping in the distribution of brochures and introducing these mechanisms to local funding institutions to generate resources for information dissemination, NGOs utilise existing social structures (schools, churches, etc..) to mobilize communities, the IRMs’ processes should not only focus on complaints but also on promoting the culture of due diligence and participatory approaches to decision- making of projects.