The Requesters allege that the Bank-financed Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) Project in Tanzania did not follow several World Bank policies and procedures. With respect to involuntary resettlement, the Requesters allege that communities in five villages (with an approximate population of 21,000) adjacent to Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA) were notified that they will be evicted. The Requesters allege they face violence, actual and threats of retaliation, which has created a sense of constant fear among affected community members. The Request states that the Project provides direct material, policy, and institutional support to Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) for the management of RUNAPA, including equipment that is being used for patrols. The Request alleges that TANAPA rangers have practiced “extreme cruelty” while conducting cattle seizures from pastoralists, and have engaged in “extrajudicial killings” and the “disappearance” of community members. The Requesters allege that over the past two years their cattle have been seized in large numbers to the detriment of pastoral livelihoods. They allege the seizure of cattle has impacted several Indigenous Peoples groups, including Maasai, Sukuma and Datoga pastoralists, who inhabit the project area. They claim that the Bank failed to trigger its policy on Indigenous Peoples, causing irreparable harm to the identity, culture, and rights of the indigenous communities in the project area.
On July 20, 2023, after conducting its due diligence, the Panel has registered the Request. Bank Management submitted its response to the Panel on August 21, 2023. A Panel team visited Tanzania from August 21 to September 2, 2023, and met with Project stakeholders including officials from Government of Tanzania, the Project’s implementing agencies, the Requesters, and local communities to inform its report and recommendation to the Board of Executive Directors as to whether an investigation into the matters alleged in the Request is warranted.
The Panel determined that the Requesters and the Request for Inspection meet the technical eligibility criteria set forth in the Panel Resolution with the exception of the claims relating to the application of the Indigenous Peoples Policy and to involuntary resettlement. The Panel notes that if resettlement is triggered in the Project area within the life of the Project, the Requesters retain their right to submit a new Request for Inspection if they believe they are experiencing or likely to experience harm due to non-compliance with Bank policies. The Panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the Board on September 19, 2023, in which it recommended carrying out an investigation into the Bank’s review and due diligence of the capacity and processes of one of the Project’s lead implementing agencies, i.e., TANAPA, and whether risks to communities were identified in project documents and appropriate mitigation measures put in place, and the Bank’s supervision of TANAPA. The investigation will review the related, possible non-compliance with the applicable World Bank policies, focusing on the Bank’s Policy on Environmental Assessment (OP/BP 4.01) and the Bank’s Investment Project Financing policy. This investigation pertains to the Bank’s actions and omissions and would not consider other parties mentioned in the Request for Inspection.
On November 15, 2023, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a recommendation from the Inspection Panel to investigate the Project. Under the Inspection Panel resolution and the World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM) resolution, after Board approval of the Panel’s investigation recommendation, the AM Secretary offers the complainants and the borrower the option of dispute resolution.
On December 11, 2023, the AMS informed the Board and the Panel that there is no agreement from both parties to enter dispute resolution. On December 14, 2023, the Panel published its investigation plan on its website and commenced its Investigation.