Apart from operating as a regional development bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has put in place mechanisms that assist the institution to effectively execute its operations as well as provide an avenue for people affected by projects financed by the bank to seek redress. This message was delivered at a forum on Safeguarding development results, Wednesday in Dakar, to a keen 2009 AfDB Annual Meetings audience.
One such organ is the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). The IRM of the AfDB provides people adversely affected by a project financed by the bank an avenue to request the Bank to comply with its own policies and procedures.
The IRM, which became operational in 2006, provides a unique independent platform for people with genuine complaints to lodge their grievances with the assurance that the bank will comply.
“The most important reason for establishing this accountability mechanism is the fact third parties without contractual relations with the AfDB cannot take the bank to court”, Mr. Per Elder Sovik, Director Compliance Review and Mediation unit of the AfDB pointed out.
According to Mr. Sovik, IRM encourages bank staff to be more vigilant about policies, procedures and due diligence, provides third parties direct access to the highest decision levels of the bank, with immediate remedies and effects on peoples’ livelihood and the environment.
In addition, the IRM allows project affected persons and the civil society organizations to monitor the bank’s performance, and implementation of findings, recommendations and decisions, and maintains independent and transparent procedures which are critical to credibility.
Citing some examples of cases received by the IRM unit, Mr. Sovik explains that the IRM provides a platform for constructive dialogue for all parties to reach agreeable solutions to the problems and investigation of allegations of violation of the bank’s policies and procedures.
The IRM, according to Mr. Sovik, has an outreach strategy which is aimed at raising awareness on the bank’s operations and the usefulness of such projects to the people in project funded areas.
In his presentation, Colin Kirk, the AfDB’s Director of Operations Evaluation, the mission of the unit is to help the bank foster sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Africa through independent and influential evaluations.
“Such evaluations assess the bank group’s policies, procedures and operations, review performance and report on results in order to draw useful lessons and promote accountability. OPEV will ensure effective communication of evaluation of results to the bank’s stakeholders,” he said.
On the autonomy of the unit, Mr. Kirk said: “Independence is important in ensuring impartiality, transparency and credibility.”
Speaking on the role of the role of the Office Auditor General in safeguarding development results, Mr. Eddie Ouko, noted that the unit has unrestricted access to all bank records, documents, properties and persons relevant to the subject matter under review or investigation.
“The office carries out audit of procedures and processes relating to all phases of the project cycles to ascertain compliance with the bank policies and best practices. Ensuring that controls exist that provide assurance to management that approved projects will be effectively supervised and executed,” he said.