On March 18, 2016, the Inspection Panel received a Request for Inspection (Case No. 106) raising concerns relating to the Irrigation System Enhancement Project in Armenia. The Requesters were concerned about lack of water for irrigation and inadequate consultation and participation. The Panel reviewed the Request in accordance with its procedures to determine its admissibility and issued a “Notice of Registration” on April 26, 2016. The Inspection Panel on May 3, 2016, received a second Request (Case No. 107) related to the same project. The Requesters were concerned about a lack of water for gravity irrigation, the destruction of the Azat Gorge with impacts on tourism, and issues relating to consultation and participation. The Panel issued a Notice of Registration on May 24, and, since both Requests raised similar issues relating to gravity irrigation under the same project, the Panel decided to process them jointly.
Bank management provided its response to the issues raised in both Requests for Inspection on June 10, 2016.
Shortly after the Panel’s eligibility visit in June 2016, Bank management informed the Panel that the government of Armenia was proposing modifications to the project that required the Bank’s reappraisal of it. As a result, the Panel on July 8, 2016 deferred its decision for up to 12 months on whether an investigation of the complaints was warranted.
Following the deferral, the Panel remained in regular contact with the Requesters and met with Bank management periodically to discuss the proposed changes to the project and the progress made in implementing those changes. The Panel conducted another field visit to Armenia in June 2017 and consequently recommended not to investigate the complaints. In making its recommendation to the Board, the Panel took into account: (i) the design changes proposed by the government to both irrigation schemes and the Bank’s appraisal of them; (ii) the views of the Requesters and other community members about the design changes; and (iii) Bank’s management engagement with the affected communities since the Panel received the Requests in 2016. The Panel expressed its view that the changes to the designs of both irrigation schemes – changes based on proposals presented by the affected communities – provide adequate assurances to prevent potential harm from the Bank project. The Panel, however, stressed the importance of continued engagement with the affected communities to ensure they are well informed about different aspects of the project and its development. The Panel also highlighted the importance of timely implementation of the design changes and full transparency of water usage. The Panel said it is crucial that water-flow measuring devices, envisaged in project documents, are provided and that affected communities can access the data to monitor the availability of their permitted amounts of irrigation water.
The Board approved the Panel’s recommendation on July 20, 2017.
Note: Translations of Inspection Panel documents are unofficial and are provided as a service to interested parties. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. If any part of the translation in Armenian is inconsistent with the original text in English, the latter shall govern.