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Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Investigate Nachtigal Hydropower Project in Cameroon; Parties Offered Option of Dispute Resolution


The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on October 19, 2022, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate the Cameroon Nachtigal Hydropower Project and Hydropower Development on the Sanaga River Technical Assistance Project in Cameroon. Under the updated Inspection Panel resolution and the resolution creating the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM), the complainants and the borrower are being offered the option of dispute resolution. The AM Secretary will inform the Board, the Panel and Bank Management within 30 business days whether the parties have voluntarily agreed to pursue dispute resolution.

The Request for Inspection was submitted on June 30, 2022, by community members in Cameroon, who asked the Panel to keep their identities confidential. The Requesters have authorized IFI Synergy—a coalition of local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including Green Development Advocates (GDA), which serves as their secretariat—to represent them. “Both ENDS”—a Dutch NGO—supports the Request. The Request relates to the construction of the Nachtigal hydroelectric dam on the Sanaga river, 65 km from Yaoundé, which, the requesters allege, affects their livelihoods. They allege they were not meaningfully consulted, and were inadequately compensated for the loss of their traditional fisheries and sand mining resources. This, they claim, has affected their nutrition, access to healthcare and education. They further allege environmental damage, social disruptions to their communities, and the loss of sacred sites. The Panel registered the case on July 25, 2022, and Management submitted its Response on August 26, 2022.

Management in its response stated that the project implementing agency, the Nachtigal Hydropower Company (NHPC) prepared several environmental and social management instruments in anticipation of the risks and impacts associated with the project and is working to address them. Management stated that it is using an adaptive management strategy to implement mitigation and compensation measures, and is consulting with all project-affected people extensively.  

A Panel team visited Cameroon from August 26 to September 7, 2022 to assess the eligibility of the Request.  The Panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the Board on September 27, 2022, in which it recommended carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related non-compliance with Bank’s Policies. The Board approved the Panel’s recommendation on October 19, 2022.  

The Panel will hold its compliance process in abeyance until the dispute resolution process is concluded. At the end of the process, if the parties reach agreement, the Panel will close the case. However, the Panel will commence its investigation if the parties do not agree to pursue dispute resolution or if they do not reach a dispute resolution agreement. The maximum length of the dispute resolution process is one year with a possible six-month extension. Like the Panel, the DRS honors requests for confidentiality from the complainants. More