On September 7, 2018, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved an Action Plan to address the findings of an Inspection Panel investigation on alleged harms connected to the Second Additional Financing for theDemocratic Republic of Congo (DRC) High Priority Reopening and Maintenance of Roads Project (ProRoutes AF2) in the Bukavu-Goma road. The issues are related to the inadequate preparation and supervision of the project, and include gender-based violence, loss of livelihoods from quarries and agriculture, interruptions of water supply to communities, and work safety concerns.
The objective of the ProRoutes Project is to promote economic growth and decrease poverty by re-establishing 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 and is maintaining 3,000 kilometers of high-priority national roads.
The project is being implemented in an extremely challenging fragile and conflict-affected development environment. Challenges in eastern DRC include widespread gender-based violence, entrenched and violent ethnic conflicts, and the proliferation and presence of foreign and Congolese armed rebel groups, which frequently carry out assaults on the project area. 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 investigation, provides funding for maintenance of roads reopened under the original project and the reopening of three new road sections, including the Bukavu-Goma road, which was the subject of the Request to the Inspection Panel.
World Bank Actions
The Bank is deeply concerned regarding the prevalence of violence against women and girls in DRC, and takes all allegations raised in the Inspection Panel report very seriously. It has taken clear actions to ensure that these issues are addressed.
On November 27, 2017 the Bank suspended disbursements to all civil works for roads renewal and rehabilitation under the ProRoutes AF2 project, including the Bukavu-Goma road contract. The suspension allowed the DRC authorities and the Bank to gather facts on the ground and apply corrective measures to ensure the project fully complies with all social and environmental requirements before civil works can resume.
Regarding Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), several concrete steps have been taken to help address and prevent cases in the Bukavu-Goma area as well as at other project locations:
The Bank has taken immediate action to ensure that survivors of SGBV, regardless of an established connection to the project, have access to adequate care and support. An existing World Bank-financed SGBV project (Great Lakes Emergency SGBV & Women’s Health project) is providing additional support to the communities in the project area. A new gender-based violence prevention and response project, approved by the World Bank Board on August 30, 2018, will support multi-sectoral services for survivors of SGBV in additional parts of DRC.
Six NGOs with long-standing presence in the Project area have been contracted to refer survivors to health, psychosocial and legal support, and other NGOs provide coverage to all Project roads, in line with the recommendations of the Global GBV Task Force appointed by President Jim Kim.
Strict provisions against worker engagement in sexual exploitation and abuse, including the possibility of employment termination, have been incorporated to the Contractor’s internal rules and code of conduct. These rules have been signed by all workers and military personnel assigned to the protection of worksites, who have also received training about them. The strengthened rules and code of conduct have been translated into Chinese, French and Swahili and are now displayed at the Contractor’s facilities.
Following international best practice, communities living in the immediate vicinity of the Contractor’s facilities are being informed about the existence of the internal rules and code of conduct, the provisions related to SGBV prevention and their rights and avenues for complaint.
In addition to SGBV, the Bank is working with the Government of DRC to follow up on all the concerns and allegations raised, to ensure that the Project does not cause or contribute to harm and to prevent any form of retaliation. The actions include:
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 training in humanitarian law.
The Bank will continue to closely monitor water pipe rupture, storm water management, loss of agricultural assets, and road safety, and make sure that the Government of DRC and Contractor implement the relevant prevention and mitigation measures. A compliance audit is being undertaken to confirm that all water incidents on the Bukavu-Goma road contract have been fully resolved. The Bank is requiring that the Contractor provide temporary water supply to affected communities during interruptions, and clearly communicate to communities about upcoming construction works and how to report incidents.
The Bank will closely monitor all Project quarries and borrow pits to make sure that exploitation is undertaken in full compliance with contractual clauses and applicable safeguard instruments.
The Bank is helping increase the institutional capacity of the involved stakeholders to manage preventive and remedial actions, and enhanced project supervision measures are being implemented together with the Government of DRC to ensure that in the future such issues are prevented, identified and addressed in the best way possible. Actions include expanding monitoring capacity of SGBV through enhanced partnership with civil society organizations, expanding community consultation and engagement activities, screening the Bank’s DRC portfolio with a view to identify and retrofit projects at risk of SGBV, and strengthening of other project Grievance Redress Mechanisms (GRMs) and ensuring the effective operation of SGBV-dedicated GRMs.
At the global level, the Bank is finalizing staff Good Practice Notes on SGBV, third-party monitoring and the use of security forces, to be included later in 2018 in the guidance material as part of the roll-out of the new Environmental and Social Framework.