The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved a new policy framework for the Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) which provides individuals or communities adversely affected by bank-financed operations with an independent mechanism through which they can raise their concerns.
The new policy framework, which was announced by the bank on Friday, enables such victims to seek redress and hold the bank to account for ensuring it complies with its policies and procedures related to sustainability.
Specifically, the new policy aims at promoting accountability and providing more effective recourse to people affected by bank-financed operations.
According to the development finance institution, the policy framework is the result of series of internal and public stakeholder consultations that began in December 2019 as part of the third policy review of the bank’s Independent Review Mechanism.
It also marked the first time that the IRM had engaged in such a comprehensive public consultation process.
The bank’s Director, Compliance Review and Mediation Unit, David Simpson, described the new policy as representing a major step forward for the IRM.
He expatiated: “The new policy framework restructures the complaints’ mechanism, to make it more accessible, efficient and predictable.
“It also simplifies the complaint process for users of the Independent Recourse Mechanism, while enhancing its transparency, and providing clearer guidelines for case management”, the expert added.
Also, in her comments, a Senior Policy Associate at Accountability Counsel, a civil society organization (CSO) providing support for supports communities adversely impacted by internationally financed projects, Stephanie Amoako, said: “The new accountability policy, if properly implemented, better serves the needs of communities across Africa.
“This is by removing barriers to access the IRM and creating a more equitable process for those using the mechanism”, she stressed.
According to the statement, a new name accompanies the new policy as the Independent Review Mechanism will now be knownas ” the Independent Recourse Mechanism.”
The new mechanism has been restructured, replacing the previous external experts’ panel model with a fully integrated unit that will now lead all problem-solving and compliance review functions.
Amongst other key benefits are that new policy strengthens accessibility for complainants by allowing complaints to be filed by a single person, enables the mechanism to advise communities on how to submit complaints if needed, and also rejects intimidation, harassment, violence, or discrimination towards those that raise concerns through the IRM.
In addition, the mechanism also requires AfDB management to make the IRM better known among affected communities by disclosing information about the mechanism at a project level.
This is even as the new operational rules and procedures approved by AfDB’s board also provide the IRM with some advantages.