4 October 2021

African Development Bank Improves its Accountability Office to Better Serve Communities

The African Development Bank (AfDB) recently announced sweeping changes to its accountability office, now known as the Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM). As a result of stakeholder engagement in the recent review of the IRM, the accountability office will now be more accessible and equitable to African communities seeking redress for negative environmental and human-rights impacts from AfDB-financed projects.

Accountability Counsel actively engaged in the review of the IRM through stakeholder meetings and by submitting of recommendations during the public consultation process. We are happy to report that the positive changes to the office include the following:

  • The new IRM procedures remove several barriers that previously hampered communities’ access to the mechanism, including prohibiting complaints alleging human rights violations and complaints on issues that are also being considered by local courts.
  • The accountability office is now charged with ensuring that the complaints process is “culturally appropriate, gender responsive, and equally available to all,” and the procedures increase the fairness of the process by giving communities more opportunities to shape its outcomes.
  • The procedures include new provisions to address threats of retaliation against those who approach the accountability office.

If implemented well, these changes will make a meaningful difference to communities seeking justice from the AfDB. If not, these will simply be paragraphs on paper. The AfDB and the IRM now have the responsibility to put these procedures into practice so that the accountability process best serves the communities who avail themselves of it.

Moreover, the IRM’s complaint process should result in remedy and meaningful corrective action. Fortunately, the new procedures include a requirement for consultations with communities on AfDB management’s plans to address findings of noncompliance. The AfDB should take the next step and ensure that resources are available to ensure remediation, including through the creation of a remedy fund.

Accountability Counsel will continue our advocacy with the AfDB and the IRM to ensure that communities in Africa are able to effectively raise concerns about the AfDB’s financing. Follow the link to learn more about our AfDB advocacy.