Press Release, December 7, 2007
Civil Society Slams 2007 Global Accountability Report
7 December 2007, Manila –NGO Forum on ADB has lambasted the recent 2007 Global Accountability Report that highly rates the institutional accountability and transparency of the Asian Development Bank, saying it is insulting to all communities affected by poorly implemented ADB-funded projects. The ADB was found to be 100 percent transparent and 81 percent accountable by the UK-based organization One World Trust.
In an official statement, the Asian-led network of civil society organizations (CSOs) monitoring ADB operations since 1992, said “the Report also trivializes the concerted and collective efforts of CSOs across Asia and the Pacific region.” Forum has advocated greater transparency and accountability of the Bank for the adverse social impacts and environmental degradation caused by its poorly executed projects and programs.
Describing the findings of the Report as appalling, Forum said, “Our network members have fought the long struggle against the malpractices of the Bank in terms of supporting several ill-conceived and poorly implemented programs and projects in Developing Member Countries (DMCs). These projects have displaced thousands of peoples and the further mismanagement of a number of its operations has brought sufferings to displaced communities and Indigenous Peoples groups as well as degradation to the environment and natural resources.”
According to Hemantha Withanage, Forum Executive Director, “We are gravely disappointed that the Global Accountability Report has given ADB such undeserved credit. We question the credibility and competence of One World Trust for coming up with dubious findings.”
Forum added that the report has not actually included experiences and realities on the ground. The coalition said seasoned campaigners who have been engaging with ADB’s Board, Management and Staff over the years concerning issues about its operations in the region could attest to how sorely lacking the Bank is in terms of transparency and accountability.
“I am surprised to know that (ADB’s) accountability has moved up to global level while it has been almost totally extinguished at the local and national level,” said Mushtaq Gaadi of Mauj, a Pakistani NGO. Gaadi said that the complete absence of transparency and manipulation of accountability claim have been the reason for the withdrawal of the Pakistani claimants from their inspection request for the adverse social and environmental impacts of the ADB-funded Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project.
For her part, Shalmali Guttal of Focus on the Global South said, “Even more damning are the testimonies of project-affected communities who have been worn out and manipulated by the ADB’s repeated “civil society consultations” on its policies, but still await justice for project-created damages.”
Despite the Bank’s existing policies on Accountability and Disclosure, local communities encounter hindrances in accessing information even during project consultations. Forum said that civil society groups and affected communities from the Lafarge Surma Cement Mining in Meghalaya, Northeast India; Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh; Southern Transport Development Project in Sri Lanka; Tsunami Reconstruction Project in the Fisheries Sector in Aceh, Indonesia; and Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project in Azerbaijan, among others, have experienced great difficulties in getting project-related documents from ADB’s operations department and resident missions in their respective countries.
Further, there are serious concerns about the complaints mechanism of the ADB and its effectiveness. At present, 10 complaints lodged before the Office of Special Project Facilitator have been dropped at the eligibility stage, mostly on technical grounds. The Compliance Review Panel of the Bank has yet to settle two cases that it has been handling since 2003.
According to Pieter Jansen of Both Ends, an NGO based in the Netherlands, “One World Trust is misinforming the public with the report by not checking ADB’s policies on paper written about accountability with the reality that members of Forum have been facing in daily practice. One World Trust is risking losing its credibility with this report.”
“Forum’s harsh critics partly seems to re-affirm the outcome of a very recent assessment of effectiveness of 14 multilateral agencies published by the Department for International Development (DFID), the aid ministry within the UK Government, which is positive on provisions regarding accountability on paper, but shows mixed results in reality,” he added.
Ian Baird of Global Association for People and the Environment added, “I can’t imagine anyone who really looked objectively into the ADB coming up with a conclusion they did.”
Forum said that it is incorrect to rate an institution like the ADB without considering its actual practices on the ground. It said that One World Trust came up with the report without considering inputs from important development actors and stakeholders. It questions the Rating Organization for having not sufficiently interacted with local communities and visited areas that have been severely impacted by ADB-funded projects.
“They should have at least consulted with CSOs actually representing the affected peoples and that are directly working for the preservation of the environment before concluding their report,” said Withanage. “CSOs’ and local communities’ views and actual experiences should have been considered and included in the report regarding ADB’s accountability and transparency to show the reality on the ground.”
For more information, please contact:
Romil Hernandez at NGO Forum on ADB
Tel: 632 436 1858/ 632 921 4412
Mobile: 63916 648 0975