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Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Investigate Uganda Infrastructure Project; Parties to be Offered Option of Dispute Resolution

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on October 20, 2021, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) in Uganda.
Under the updated Inspection Panel resolution and the resolution creating the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM), now that the Board has approved the Panel’s recommendation to investigate the project, the complainants and the borrower will be offered the option of dispute resolution by the AM Secretary acting as head of the AM’s Dispute Resolution Service (DRS). 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.

If they do agree, the Panel will hold its compliance process in abeyance until the dispute resolution process is concluded. If, at the end of the process, the parties reach agreement, the Panel will issue a memorandum closing the case and take no further action. However, if the parties do not agree to dispute resolution or if they do not eventually reach a dispute resolution agreement, the Panel will commence its investigation. The maximum length of the dispute resolution process is one year from when the AM Secretary reports on the parties’ willingness to pursue dispute resolution. If both parties agree, the process may be extended for up to an additional six months. Like the Panel, the DRS honors requests for confidentiality from the complainants.
This case marks the first time since the Board approved the resolutions in September 2020 that the complainants and borrower involved in a Request for Inspection to the Panel are being given the option of dispute resolution.  
The Request was submitted on June 17, 2021, by Witness Radio Uganda, a non-profit and non-partisan registered advocacy organization for the protection and promotion of human rights in development, on behalf of community members living in the project area in Kampala. The Panel also received seven signatures of local council leaders supporting the Request. Accountability Counsel, a legal non-profit organization that supports communities around the world to protect their human rights and environment, also supports the Request. 
The Request raised concerns about works on the Lubigi channel financed under KIIDP-2 and alleged that the affected community was excluded from the project’s resettlement under a 2017 Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), confronted with a forced eviction attempt in the same area as the project, and rushed through an inadequate, threatening and coercive resettlement process under a supplementary RAP. The Request further alleged cumulative impact from different interventions in the project area.
The Panel registered the Request on July 26, 2021, and Management submitted its Response to the Request on August 24, 2021.
The Management Response explained that Management had carefully reviewed the allegations raised in the Request, most of which it stated were already known and being addressed by the project implementation unit as part of regular project implementation. The response concluded with a commitment to work with the Kampala Capital City Authority, the agency responsible for the project, to strengthen RAP implementation through certain actions that, according to Management, address the Request’s key concerns.
In its October 4, 2021, Report and Recommendation to the Board recommending an investigation, the Panel recognized that Bank Management is taking steps to address some of the alleged harm. However, the Panel noted the conflicting assertions between the complainants and Bank  Management as to whether the project caused the alleged harm suffered or likely to be suffered and whether there is a violation by the Bank of its operational policies and procedures. The Panel stated that the facts related to these assertions and the Bank’s compliance or non-compliance with applicable policies and procedures could only be determined in the course of an investigation.  More