Disclosure Allegations about the West African Gas Pipeline Project

21 April 2009

In 2006, a case was brought to the Inspections Panel over the controversial West African Gas Pipeline Project. The list of disclosure-related allegations was extensive. According to the complainants, although West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo) periodically consulted landowners, other stakeholders were wrongly excluded and the overwhelming majority of our people were not consulted during the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The requesters said that they could not comment on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) because it was not made publicly available. They also said that it would have been helpful if relevant portions of the large documents [including the EIA and Resettlement Action Plan (RAP)] had been reproduced in Yoruba and distributed to impacted communities.

In addition, the requesters claimed that many of the stakeholders did not have access to project information and that the members of the communities could not understand the information that the Bank did provide. They indicated that lack of project information and insufficient information about the amount of compensation paid to community members caused serious social conflicts within families.

Friends of the Earth-Ghana submitted materials in support of the original request for inspection and raised concerns about the projects economic benefit to Ghana. The group claimed that the promised economic and financial analysis of the project was never disclosed.According to the IPs annual report, Realizing that some issues still needed to be addressed, Management introduced a set of proposed steps (the Action Plan) to resolve the situation. These include the facilitation of community development programs and measures to increase transparency and accountability by conducting two supervision missions per year until Project completion. Additionally, Management states that WAPCo will disseminate nontechnical translations of RAP and ESMP summaries, including explanations of the grievance and monitoring mechanisms.

The report also noted, In its response, Management did not agree with the Requesters claim that consultations about compensation were inadequate. Regarding disclosure of information, Management acknowledged initial difficulties but claimed that the situation was corrected immediately. Management acknowledged that disclosure should have been supplemented with translations of summaries of the RAP and ESMP in the local language, Yoruba.

Report on Pakistan Project Not Revealed

The investigations and the Banks subsequent attempts to provide redress can take years, as evidenced in the annual reports recounting of problems surrounding a major drainage project in Pakistan. Lack of disclosure and consultation were among many complaints raised by local residents.

One section of annual report summarized the response from Bank officials: Management stated that it believed that the NDP Project is in compliance with many of the requirements for OD 4.01 (Environmental Assessment). Nevertheless, Management acknowledged that the Project failed to comply with the disclosure requirements for BP 17.50 (Disclosure of Operational Information) since the DSEA [Drainage Sector Environmental Assessment] was not disclosed prior to appraisal at the InfoShop and no records of disclosure in country could be located.

The Bujugali Hydropower Project in Uganda

The Bujugali Hydropower Project in Uganda has captured the attention of transparency activists for many years. Critics have long complained that the details of the project were kept under wraps. In 2002, relying on the open government clause of the Ugandan constitution, a top Ugandan judge ordered the release of a key document about the controversial dam project that the Ugandan government, and the World Bank had declined to disclose.

In 2007, local groups raised various concerns related to the project:

  • hydrological risks
  • climate change affecting river flows and Lake Victoria
  • cumulative impact assessment; Kalagala Falls “offsets”
  • fisheries
  • the project’s economic analysis, options, and affordability assessments
  • information disclosure, transparency, and openness regarding the project
  • dam safety
  • indigenous peoples and cultural and spiritual issues
  • compensation, resettlement, and consultations.

They claim that the Bank has not complied with a number of its operational policies and procedures and that, as a result of these violations, the project will “cause harm to the people of Uganda and to the environment.”

More specifically, the requesters charged that the Bank refused to make public the information on the Nile hydrology and the Lake Victoria’s hydrological conditions. The requesters claim that the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the key project document that has been the subject of the court case, was released only recently and is not readily and easily available to civil society.

The panel is still investigating the claims.

Second Urban Environmental Sanitation Project

A complaint from Ghana brought to the IP in 2007 concerns a project designed to improve urban living conditions in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tamale, and Tema in regard to environmental health, sanitation, drainage, vehicular access, and solid waste management in a sustainable fashion, with special emphasis on the poor.

However, the requesters said that the community was not meaningfully consulted during the design phase of the project and that the authorities provided information to them through local newspapers and radio announcements, although often after decisions were made. They said they wrote the Bank requesting the withdrawal of support for the landfill subcomponent. Several letters were sent to the authorities, but no response was received. Additionally, the requesters indicated that they had, on several occasions, expressed their concerns to Bank officials in Accra but felt their concerns were not been dealt with satisfactorily.

Urban Development Project in Cameroon

Requesters from Cameroon asserted that the Bank failed to conduct baseline studies and failed to conduct an adequate analysis of alternatives. They also stated that the Bank agreed to the implementation of the projects despite the limited administrative and implementation capacity of Cameroon.

The requesters said the World Bank did not consult them, nor did it provide any information about the projects. The case specifically claims that the project did not comply with the World Bank Policy on Disclosure of Information, among other World Bank policies and procedures.

Argentina Santa Fe Road Project Being Probed

Residents affected by a major highway project filed a series of complaints with the Inspection Panel. Recently, the panel recommended an investigation that will focus on issues raised in the Request that still remain pending, particularly issues related to route design and flood risks, as well as disclosure of information and consultation with project affected people on resettlement and environmental aspects.

 

 

 

By Toby McIntosh and Rebecca Harris

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Filed under: IFTI Watch

ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
1-(703) 276-7748