What action is the World Bank taking while the investigation takes place?
Because of the serious nature of the allegations, Bank management is taking action on the project even while the Inspection Panel carries out its work. Along with cancelling financing for the project, the World Bank is also:
- Working with the Government of Uganda to support the affected communities, address the needs of children at risk, and help ensure that people are protected from retaliation.
- Supporting 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.
Update as of August 1, 2016:
- We have strengthened our team on the ground in Uganda – including by adding a social expert with extensive experience in addressing sexual and gender-based violence issues.
- To support the implementation of our Emergency Child Protection Response (ECPR) program in Uganda, we have mobilized $1 million through the World Bank’s Rapid Social Response Program. These funds will be used to scale up and sustain the program for the wider road sub-sector in Uganda.
- As part of the ECPR program, we are working closely with relevant government agencies to support the survivors of sexual abuse in the affected communities. In Kamwenge and Kabarole districts, our partners on the ground have offered affected women psychosocial support, legal redress, medical care for girls, mothers and babies, financial support, and reintegration into school or vocational training. Many have taken up this assistance.
- We have 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.
- 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 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 issued a strong statement 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.
- We are also working with the Government, under our newly agreed Uganda Country Partnership Framework, on a nationwide program to reduce the risks of sexual violence, especially those associated with the influx of workers into local communities for road and other projects.
- Suspending financing for civil works in two other projects overseen by the Uganda National Roads Authority pending a review, and strengthening that organization’s capacity to adhere to internationally accepted environmental and social standards.
Update, August 1, 2016:
- We cancelled financing to TSDP in December 2015 and suspended the civil works components of two other projects in Uganda in January 2016.
- 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.
- UNRA is in the process of recruiting new environmental and social specialists who will support the Authority to implement projects financed by the World Bank.
- Ensuring that the Government completes its commitments in the project’s Financing Agreement with the World Bank for compensation for land acquisition.
Update, August 1, 2016:
- Of the 2,455 people identified for compensation for land acquisition as a result of the project, 209 were yet to receive compensation payments as of June 14, 2016. UNRA is in the process of verifying and resolving these outstanding cases.
- Reviewing the World Bank’s entire Uganda portfolio to identify project-specific or system-wide issues related to noncompliance of environmental and social safeguards with the goal of proposing measures to address these issues, if any.
- Developing guidelines for World Bank staff based on a global review of international best practice approaches to protecting communities from sensitive impacts related to an influx of workers during project construction phases.
- Commissioning a review of lessons learned from the Project, focusing specifically on weaknesses in Bank supervision with the goal of facilitating staff training and developing guidance for supervision of projects with a similar risk profile.
Update, August 1, 2016:
- A process which includes a review of our entire Uganda portfolio and an assessment of risks in similar projects has been undertaken to identify and address weaknesses in our systems and practices.
- An internal review of lessons learned has been conducted and the report is being finalized
- We are developing new guidance for World Bank staff, especially those working on infrastructure projects requiring outside workers.
- We have shifted more resources to our operational side to strengthen overall project supervision efforts.