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World Bank Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Investigate DRC Road Project

​The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on December 8, 2017, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate the Second Additional Financing for the High-Priority Roads Reopening and Maintenance Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The objective of the second additional financing is to “reestablish lasting road access between provincial capitals and districts and territories in the project implementation area in a way that is sustainable for the natural environment.” The project is supported by an International Development Association (IDA) grant of US$50 million equivalent approved by the Board in March 2008. A first additional financing of US$63.3 million equivalent was approved in June 2011 and the second additional financing of US$125 million equivalent was approved in February 2016.

The Inspection Panel received a Request for Inspection on August 3, 2017, from two community members living in Goma and its vicinity who allege harm from the Bukavu-Goma road works financed under the project. The alleged harms focus on loss of property, but also include claims related to loss of livelihoods, gender-based and other physical violence against the community, labor issues and impacts on indigenous peoples. The Panel registered the Request on September 13, 2017, and Bank management sent the Panel its response to the Request on October 20, 2017.

A Panel team visited the DRC from November 6-11, 2017, and met with government officials from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Works (MIPW), and the Cellule Infrastructures, the implementing agency at the MIPW, as well as the project contractor, World Bank staff, the supervising engineer, the Requesters and community members.

In its November 21, 2017, Report and Recommendation to the Board, the Panel stated that the harms raised in the Request for Inspection and those it was able to verify in the field are of a very serious nature and plausibly linked to the project and its implementation. The Panel recommended carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and potential non-compliance with Bank policies, especially those relating to the following policies: Environmental Assessment, Involuntary Resettlement and Investment Project Financing.

On November 27, 2017, Bank management issued an update to the response it had sent the Panel on October 20, 2017. The update was provided to apprise the Board and the Panel of the most recent developments regarding the issues in the Request, and to summarize the actions the Bank planned to take immediately and over the next few weeks. Management noted it would continue to work with the government of the DRC and the Panel “to follow up on the concerns and allegations raised in the Request and to help ensure that the project does not cause or contribute to harm,” adding it would urge the government “to take appropriate action with regard to potentially ongoing abuses.” Bank management on November 27, 2017, partially suspended the DRC’s right to make withdrawals from the project credit amount.

The Request for Inspection, the Management Response, the Panel’s Report and Recommendation, and the update to the Management Response can be found on thecase page of Panel’s website.