People adversely affected by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) financed projects have, in the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM), a recourse system that enables them to call on the institution to comply with its own policies and procedures.
Sekou Toure, the director of the Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), which administers the IRM, was on project sites in Mauritania and Morocco in February 2014. On 1-4 February, he visited the AfDB financed “Aménagement hydro-agricole de Brakna –Ouest” project in Mauritania where he exchanged views about the impacts of the project with a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including community leaders, parliamentarians, mayors, village chiefs, and women associations.
Toure led a seminar with government officials, the Bank’s country economist Ndong Ntah Marcellin, project implementation units, and civil society organizations in Nouakchott. He also presented the mandate of the IRM as well as lessons emerging from the AfDB’s efforts to promote accountability in its operations.
Community sessions and formal briefings activities are among CRMU outreach tools designed to disseminate information about the IRM to the general public, especially at local levels. With the full support of the Resident Representative Morocco Yacine Fal, and her team, Toure’s mission to Morocco concluded with the official closing of a complaint case about the Marrakech-Agadir Highway project which was handled through the IRM problem solving function.
The 3-year mediation effort was launched in 2010 by CRMU to address eight issues raised by affected communities along the Chichaoua-Imintanout section of the Highway which is financed by the Bank and constructed by la Societe des Autoroutes du Maroc (ADM). The communities were represented by the Centre de développement de la région de Tensift (CDRT) and complained about 8 issues which, among others, include the highways constraining their access to water sources and agricultural lands.
Implementation of remedial actions such as the rehabilitation of agricultural lands in Oued Albour, the building of water reservoir in Taalinit, the rehabilitation of houses and physical connection between the two sides of the highway were successfully carried out by ADM in line with the settlement agreement brokered by CRMU’s mediation efforts.
As part of the AfDB’s system of oversight and accountability, the IRM handles requests from at least two or more affected persons. It performs both compliance review and problem-solving functions. Through its compliance review function, the IRM has external independent experts who assess compliance with the AfDB’s applicable policies and procedures to public and private projects.
In the case of Bank Group-financed sovereign guaranteed projects, the IRM focuses on all operational policies and procedures in respect of the design, implementation or supervision of project subject of the complaint. For the private sector and/or non-sovereign guaranteed AfDB Group-financed projects, the IRM, handles compliance with the AfDB’s social and environmental policies. The problem-solving function, as experienced in the Morocco case, is followed where complaints or grievances can be resolved through mediation. Mediation is carried out by the Director of CRMU. The outreach function enables CRMU to make the IRM better known to the public.