Bank success in securing capital increase based on PR, says NGOs
3 May 2009, Bali - NGOs and peoples
organizations today disputed ADB claims of aid effectiveness, saying
the bank's has opted for an aggressive external relations drive which
has masked the failure of projects to address the needs of the poor.
Civil society bank monitor NGO Forum on the ADB attributed the failure
of ADB operations to the incredible breakdown of access to information
by people directly affected by the bank's projects.
"More than 1500 families have been
displaced by the ADB-funded Highway 1 project. These families never
got information on the details of the project, and on their impending
resettlement and the compensation they deserved," said Leak Kay
of Conservation and Development - Cambodia, a local organization working
with affected communities. "The fact is, what is happening to ADB
projects in Cambodia is happening to the rest of developing Asia. The
ADB has been repeating the same mistakes over and over and today, after
42 years, it is saying it’s still learning. It’s time to accept
the truth that it’s the ADB that is the problem.”
Access to information by people directly
affected by the bank's projects is a vital ingredient to the success
of any development project or program. Unfortunately, said the Forum,
the bank "has failed miserably in this regard." In a panel
discussion on the bank's public communications policy held during the
42nd annual meeting of the ADB, the bank's director for external relations
Ann Quon was swamped with complaints from affected people expressing
frustration in getting information on bank-funded projects. Community
representatives lamented the inadequacy and lack of quality and timeliness
of information provided by the ADB on projects affecting communities.
"The lack of attention to access
to information by affected people is confirmed by the ADB's own assessment
of the implementation of its Public Communications Policy for 2008,"
said Tea Soentoro, advocacy coordinator of the Forum. "There is
a gaping hole with respect to access to information by people affected
by ADB projects. In monitoring information requests, the ADB's Information
Disclosure Unit monitors only the requests it handles, but not those
handled by ADB project teams or government or private project sponsors.
The assessment also admits that the joint development of communication
plans for project-affected people by the ADB and borrowing governments
was not emphasized in 2008," said Soentoro.
Lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan of the Global
Transparency Initiative said "the failure to inform project-affected
people is rooted on the inadequacies in the ADB PCP. It is not a matter
of lack of capacity; it is a consequence of the ADB passing the responsibility
for giving information to the borrower governments or private sponsors,"
Malaluan remarked in the panel.
Under paragraphs 78, 80 and 83 of the
PCP, the borrower government or private sector sponsor that is responsible
for making relevant environmental, involuntary resettlement, and indigenous
planning documents available to project affected people. "This
makes ADB's responsibility for access to information by project affected
people far incommensurate to its deep involvement in project conceptualization,
approval, and implementation," Malaluan added.
Women organizations also hit the ADB
for its inability to incorporate gender considerations in its disclosure
policy. “Many complaints to projects include lack of information provided
to project-affected people, including women,” said Wardarina of Solidaritas
Perempuan. “There has been lack of specific measures to include women
in the decision-making process involving ADB projects,” she added.
"The ADB's long-term strategic aim
of inclusive growth can only be credible if ADB will address inclusiveness
in its own backyard. The ADB gets high marks for its aggressive external
relations strategy but failing grades when it comes to access to information
by project-affected communities," Soentoro said.