The Request for Inspection of the ProRoutes AF2 Project, received by the Inspection Panel on August 3, 2017, alleged harms from the Bukavu-Goma road works, including those related to livelihood impacts, gender-based and other physical violence, and labor issues, among others.
Given the seriousness of these allegations and the DRC Authorities’ non-compliance with the project’s social and environmental obligations, on November 27, 2017 the Bank suspended disbursements to all civil works for roads renewal and rehabilitation under the Second Additional Finance of the ProRoutes AF2 project, including the Bukavu-Goma road contract.
The Bank has also taken immediate action to ensure that known survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) have access to adequate care and support, and will expand an existing SGBV project in the area (Great Lakes Emergency SGBV & Women’s Health project) to provide additional support to the communities in the project area.
World Bank actions
The Bank has suspended disbursements to all civil works of the ProRoutesAF2 project, including the road segment directly involved in the complaint, and other road contracts. The Bank is keeping disbursements available for activities related to social and environmental monitoring and protection. The suspension decision allows the DRC authorities and the Bank to gather more facts on the ground, provide additional support to SGBV survivors and apply corrective measures to ensure the project fully complies with all social and environmental requirements before civil works can resume.
The Bank takes allegations of SGBV very seriously. Several concrete steps are being taken to help address and prevent SGBV cases in the Bukavu-Goma area as well as at other project locations:
The Bank has been working with local authorities and SGBV support service providers to ensure all the survivors of SGBV in the project area that have been identified have access to adequate care and support.
Explicit language prohibiting individual workers from engaging in sexual exploitation and abuse has been incorporated to the Contractor’s internal rules and code of conduct. All workers and military personnel employed by the Contractor have been trained on these strengthened rules and code of conduct, which have been translated into Chinese, French and Swahili and are now displayed in all the Contractor’s facilities.
All workers and military personnel have signed the internal rules and code of conduct. Following guidance from the Bank’s international SGBV consultant, communities living in the immediate vicinity of the Contractor’s facilities will be informed about the existence of the internal rules and code of conduct and, in particular, the provisions related to SGBV prevention.
All other civil works contracts under the project are being audited to verify compliance with social and environmental requirements.
Regarding the use ofmilitary personnel as security forces, the Bank has been working with the DRC authorities and the UN Peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to improve the selection of military personnel assigned to the protection of worksites through appropriate screening and to train them in humanitarian law.
The Bank will continue to work with the Government of DRC and the Inspection Panel to follow up on the concerns and allegations raised and to help ensure that the Project does not cause or contribute to harm and to prevent any form of retaliation.
The objective of the ProRoutes Project is to re-establish access between provincial capitals, districts, and territories in several priority areas in the DRC, bringing connectivity to one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden areas in the world. Since its start in 2008, it has rehabilitated over 2,300 kilometers of high priority national roads.
The project is being implemented in an extremely challenging fragile and conflict-affected development environment. Challenges include entrenched and violent ethnic conflicts; the proliferation and presence of foreign and Congolese armed rebel groups, which frequently carry out assaults on the project area; and widespread gender-based violence. Works on the project have been suspended several times due to attacks by armed groups along the project road.
ProRoutes is supported by IDA credits totaling US$238 million. This includes:
An IDA grant of US$50 million approved by the Board on March 18, 2008.
A first additional financing of US$63.3 million approved in June 2011.
A second additional financing of US$125 million approved in February 2016.
The Second Additional Financing, which is the subject of the Inspection Panel case, provides funding for maintenance of roads re-opened under the original project and the reopening of three new road sections, including the Bukavu-Goma road, where the cases were reported.