World Bank announces lifting of suspension of disbursements to two road infrastructure projects In Uganda
On June 6, 2017, the World Bank lifted the suspension of the civil works components of the North Eastern Road Corridor Asset Management Project (NERAMP) and the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project. The decision resulted from an assessment of progress made by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) in addressing issues that led to the suspension in December 2015.
The Bank’s assessment found that UNRA had made progress in strengthening its capacity to manage its roads program, in areas including contract supervision and a more systematic approach to environmental and social safeguards management.
The assessment also recognized a change in culture and commitment within UNRA to engage communities and deliver projects in a way that enhances positive social impacts and addresses labor influx issues.
The Bank noted that UNRA continues to follow up on contentious, complicated cases related to compensation for project affected people and recruitment of reputable local NGOs to work on enhanced social impact management along all World Bank financed road corridors.
The World Bank also plans to support Uganda through a national scale project on gender-based violence prevention and response in a more systematic way.
The Government of Uganda is financing with its own funds the completion of the Fort Portal to Kamwenge road.
Update on World Bank action
On March 30 2017, the first Progress Report on addressing issues raised in the TSDP Inspection Panel report was delivered to the Board of Executive Directors on implementation of the Management Action Plan, covering the period October 13, 2016 to March 21, 2017. It included the following updates:
A general review of environmental and social safeguards performance in all relevant Bank-financed projects in Uganda has been completed, as well as a complementary review with a specific focus on the risks of sexual abuse involving minors, and child labor. [For background see – TSDP: Lessons Learned & Agenda for Action Report: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/948341479845064519/pdf/110455-BR-PUBLIC-LESSONS-LEARNT-IDA-SecM2016-0204.pdf]
Environmental and social provisions for contractors and supervising engineers in future Bank supported operations have been strengthened Bank-wide for civil works carried out in, or near, vulnerable communities and in other high-risk situations
A guidance note for Bank staff has been disseminated on issues associated with labor influx. Based on this guidance, a portfolio-wide review of projects across the Bank is being carried out to ensure that pertinent issues are being appropriately addressed (http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/497851495202591233/Managing-Risk-of-Adverse-impact-from-project-labor-influx.pdf)
A Global Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Task Force was formed to strengthen the institution’s response to instances of GBV encountered as part of its operations. The Task Force includes a range of members from academia, NGOs, foundations, UNICEF, and government. The Task Force is expected to deliver its report in June 2017 with the Bank committed to following up on its recommendations. [The TOR for the GBV task force is annexed to the report on Lessons Learnt – see above]
Progress has also been made on specific actions related to the TSDP:
Empowerment and livelihoods clubs for adolescents (ELAs) are now fully operational in the project area, run by local CSO BRAC-Uganda, with support from the World Bank.
About 96% of outstanding compensation payments on the Fort Portal to Kamwenge Road have been made, with funds for the remaining, more complicated, cases of 110 project-affected people placed in an escrow account while UNRA continues the necessary follow-ups.
The Government of Uganda (led by the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development) is progressively assuming responsibility for contracting NGOs to continue efforts begun in the TSDP project area to respond to the harm caused to local adolescent girls by road workers. Support has been provided through a Rapid Social Response (RSR) Grant, and to implement GBV prevention activities. Other projects in the Bank-supported portfolio (e.g., in energy and education sectors) are in the process of being restructured to include GBV prevention components.
On November 22, 2016 the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors discussed an Inspection Panel report on an investigation of the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project and endorsed the action plan put forward in the management response to the report.
On December 21, 2015, WBG announced the cancellation of funding to the Uganda Transport Sector Development Project (TSDP) due to contractual breaches related to workers’ issues, social and environmental concerns, poor project performance, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by contractor staff. WBG had earlier suspended financing for the project, in October 2015.
Along with cancelling financing for the Transport Sector Development Project, on December 28, 2015 the Bank suspended the civil works components of two other projects implemented by the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA): the North Eastern Road Corridor Asset Management Project (NERAMP), and the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Project.
A Request for Inspection of the TSDP had been registered by the Inspection Panel in September 2015. It concerned complaints received from the Bigodi and Nyabubale-Nkingo communities located along the Kamwenge to Fort Portal Road. The Request contained numerous allegations of adverse environmental and social impacts stemming from the Project’s construction works, including impacts related to road safety and compensation for land acquisition, as well as serious allegations of road workers’ sexual relations with minor girls in the community, and sexual harassment of female employees.
World Bank actions
Because of the serious nature of the allegations, World Bank management took a number of actions on the project even while the Inspection Panel process was ongoing. Along with cancelling financing for the project, the World Bank also:
Worked with the Government of Uganda to support the affected communities, address the needs of children at risk, and help ensure that people were protected from retaliation.
Supported Uganda’s efforts to develop and implement an Emergency Child Protection Response Program which is helping strengthen community structures to better address the needs of children at risk in the affected communities.
On October 13, 2016, WBG President Jim Yong Kim launched a Global Gender-Based Violence (GGBV) Task Force to strengthen the institution’s response through its projects to issues involving sexual exploitation and abuse. The Task Force is comprised primarily of outside experts on gender-based violence, supported by a small team of specialist World Bank staff. It will build on existing World Bank and other work to tackle violence against women and girls, advising on strengthened approaches to identifying threats and applying lessons in World Bank projects to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.
The World Bank Management’s Action Plan, outlined in its response to the Inspection Panel report, committed to working to support the Government of Uganda in its implementation of a series of measures, including:
Ensuring delayed resettlement compensation was paid
Implementing corrective measures for construction defects that have livelihood and safety impacts
Ensuring the contractor met its obligations on wages and working conditions
Strengthening community response to Gender-Based Violence within project communities
Supporting counseling for child survivors of sexual violence and their families, together with provision of health care support, adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and treatment of STIs, plus support in seeking legal redress.
Working with the Government to address endemic social issues
Completing a general review of environmental and social safeguards implementation in all relevant projects in Uganda
World Bank management will report back to the Board after six months on progress in implementation of the Action Plan, and thereafter annually.
Triggered by the problems that emerged in the TSDP, Management and Board had a separate in-depth meeting to discuss broader lessons learnt and the proposed agenda for action through which the Bank seeks to address systemic and institutional constraints, strengthen oversight of high-risk projects and prevent recurrence of the failures of the TSDP. This includes:
Strengthening environmental and social provisions for tendering, bidding and contract awarding in bank-supported operations
Issuing new staff guidance to manage risk related to labor influx
Further strengthening oversight arrangements and staffing for safeguards
Better tracking and responding to community complaints.
The World Bank has been a strong development partner with Uganda since 1963. We are committed to working closely with the Government of Uganda, as well as other stakeholders, to support the country’s development and ensure that all World Bank-supported projects deliver tangible and long-lasting results to all Ugandans, especially the poor and vulnerable.
President Museveni has confirmed to the Bank that the Government of Uganda is committed to ensuring that social and environmental safeguards policies are adhered to in undertaking large infrastructure projects. He also emphasized that the Government is committed to continue with the national campaign for reducing violence against women and girls.
After road works commenced under the Project on August 1, 2013, World Bank supervision missions repeatedly found instances of non-compliance with a number of environmental and social requirements particularly concerning land acquisition and various physical impacts of construction – and alerted the implementing agency, the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), that they required remediation. After multiple reviews, a lack of progress with corrective actions, and concerns about allegations of sexual misconduct by contracted road workers, the Bank suspended financing to the project on October 22, 2015.
Concerns related to sexual misconduct of contracted road workers under the project were first brought to the Bank’s attention in a letter of complaint from a community in December 2014. Subsequent World Bank missions to the project site to review the issues raised, working closely with the government agencies concerned, specialized social development consultants and a local civil society organization, provided more insight into the complaints. The Bank concluded that there was credible evidence of project road workers engaging in sexual misconduct with minors. The World Bank alerted the Government and UNRA, urging the involvement of law enforcement and child protection agencies.
On September 28, 2015, a request for Inspection regarding the TSDP was registered by the Inspection Panel – the independent accountability mechanism for people and communities who believe that they have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected by a World Bank-funded project.
Since the Inspection Panel process began, the World Bank has taken the following action in Uganda:
Strengthened our team on the ground in Uganda – including by adding two social development specialists, including one with extensive experience in addressing sexual and gender-based violence issues.
In partnership with the Government and civil society organizations, the Bank is implementing the Emergency Child Protection Response Program to provide support to survivors of sexual abuse, measures aimed at preventing further abuse of minors and strengthening institutional structures for child protection in the affected areas.
As part of this program, we are working closely with relevant government agencies to support the survivors of sexual abuse in affected communities. In Kamwenge and Kabarole districts, our partners on the ground have offered affected women and girls psychosocial support, legal redress, medical care for girls, mothers and babies, financial support, and reintegration into school or vocational training. Increasing numbers are taking up this assistance, which is available to all survivors of sexual abuse, regardless of whether the perpetrators are road workers or not.
We also engaged BRAC Uganda, a well-regarded NGO that specializes in community and youth health and empowerment, to work directly with the survivors of sexual abuse and reach out to the broader community to protect girls from threats of sexual violence. Psycho-social support services are being provided by TPO, who have been sub-contracted by BRAC Uganda.
Through engagement with district leaders, community awareness of the threats facing children has increased. District leaders have used public gatherings and free air time on radio to raise child protection issues and encourage community members to report child abuse to the police.
Road workers have taken part in group discussions, with the involvement of law enforcement authorities, on child protection and HIV/AIDS prevention.
We have also mobilized $1 million through the World Bank’s Rapid Social Response (RSR) Program to support the implementation of the ECPR and to scale up and sustain the program for the wider road sub-sector in Uganda
Financing from RSR will also support UNRA and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to strengthen their Grievance Redress Mechanisms, with special focus on improved targeting of child survivors and populations at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
We have also raised concerns about potential retaliation against community members who make complaints to the police or the World Bank about sexual and gender-based violence. In support of this, the Ministry of Finance and UNRA have issued strong statements to the media against retaliation and, at the district level, messages against retaliation have been broadcast on radio talk shows and reinforced at public gatherings.
We have consistently urged that all allegations of sexual misconduct be investigated and prosecuted. According to the Ugandan authorities, three cases have been successfully prosecuted to date and in at least one case, the perpetrator has been sentenced to four years in jail. Further cases are under active investigation.
Under our new Uganda Country Partnership Framework, we are working with the Government on a program to reduce the risks of sexual violence, including those associated with the influx of workers into local communities for infrastructure projects
The Government of Uganda is also making headway in its commitment to address Gender-based violence, with the Ugandan cabinet’s approval of the National Policy and Action Plan on the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence.
We have been contributing to UNRA’s ongoing institutional reform process through technical assistance for the development of an Environmental and Social Management System, an improved Land Acquisition Management System, and a Community Engagement Strategy and Work Plan, including Grievance Redress Mechanisms, with a special focus on improved targeting of child survivors and populations at risk of GBV. We have also supported UNRA in developing a comprehensive communications and citizen engagement strategy and work plan. UNRA has recruited new environmental and social specialists who will support the Authority to implement all their projects, including those financed by the World Bank.