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World Bank Board Discusses Panel’s Investigation Report on Bolivia Santa Cruz Road Corridor Connector Project; Approves the Management Action Plan


On May 16, 2024, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors discussed the Bank’s Inspection Panel’s Investigation Report of the Bolivia: Santa Cruz Road Corridor Connector Project (San Ignacio - San José) (P152281). The Board also approved Bank Management’s action plan to address the Panel’s Investigation Report findings.

In December 2022, a Request for Inspection was submitted by four individuals (the “Requesters”) who stated they are leaders of four Centrales Chiquitanas (organizations of Chiquitano Indigenous People) in the Chiquitania region of the eastern Bolivian lowlands. The Requesters claimed the Project threatened their land and livelihoods, as the road would create opportunities for illegal activities and for settlers to move into their area. The Requesters alleged that they were not meaningfully consulted on the original Indigenous People’s Plan (IPP) that was approved in 2016 and that this Plan neither mitigated adverse impacts nor granted them access to Project benefits. The Request stated that although the revised IPP, that was approved in 2022, was “much improved,” they still had concerns about the effectiveness of its implementation. The Requesters also raised concerns about the Project contractor’s hiring conditions, and alleged Project workers engaged in sexual exploitation, abuse, and sexual harassment (SEA/SH) of indigenous women and girls. During the Panel’s field visits, the Requesters voiced additional concerns related to the resettlement and compensation in the right-of-way (ROW), the Project’s impact on atajados (artificial ponds that provide drinking water for humans and animals), land acquisition and the management of borrow pits, as well as road safety and road access. These additional concerns were brought to Management’s attention by the Panel and were included for consideration in the investigation process.

The Panel submitted to the Board an eligibility report recommending an investigation, which was approved on March 31, 2023. The Panel commenced the Investigation on May 16, 2023, after it issued the Investigation Plan on its website.

The key findings of this investigation relate to the analysis of the Project’s potential, adverse effects, and the free, prior, and informed consultation. The Panel found that Management did not ensure the Social Assessments had adequate breadth and depth of analysis of the Project’s potential, adverse affects on the Chiquitano communities in the Project area. The Panel also found Management did not ensure an adequate process of free, prior, and informed consultation with the Chiquitano communities.

The Panel noted several problems with – and community concerns about – the discrepancies between the IPP objectives and the design and the implementation of some projects and activities proposed under the IPP. One such discrepancy arose from the inadequate assessment of potential, adverse impacts and the resulting absence of mitigation measures in the IPP. The Panel noted some of the IPP projects focused on “outputs”, and the Panel is concerned they are being implemented without creating meaningful or sustainable “outcomes” for the beneficiaries.

The Panel’s other findings included construction-related impacts on the borrow pits, atajados, and the resettlement and compensation in relation to the right-of-way, as well as on the Project’s grievance redress mechanism, road safety, OHS management and labor working conditions, SEA/SH, and Bank supervision.  

The Panel submitted its Investigation Report on February 12, 2024, and shared its findings with the Requesters and some PAPs, so that they could participate more effectively in the consultations on the Management Action Plan (MAP), a document prepared by Management in response to the Panel’s findings. According to the Management’s Response and Recommendation to the Panel’s findings [Hyperlink the MRR/MAP once disclosed], Management agreed with the Borrower and consulted with the Requesters on the MAP. The Borrower expressed its commitment to implement the MAP, and the World Bank will continue to provide hands-on support in implementing the MAP and the Project as a whole.  

“The Panel is reassured that most of its findings are being addressed, or are intended to be addressed through the Management Action Plan. However, the Panel is of the view that, had the Project’s adverse impacts been assessed and consulted on more thoroughly, the IPP and its benefit programs could have been better designed and targeted to address the challenges that the impacted Chiquitano communities face,” said Inspection Panel Chairperson Mark Goldsmith. He added that “the Panel thanks the Requesters for their trust and courage in approaching it with their concerns.”

Bank Management will submit annual progress reports on the implementation of the Board-approved MAP, which will be published on the Panel’s Bolivia case page. A World Bank press release in this regard can be found here (English, Español). Learn more about the case here.