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World Bank Uganda road project cancelled

8 February 2016

In September, a complaint from 58 community members concerning the World Bank-funded Uganda Transport Sector Development project for a 66 km road in Kamwenge was registered by the Inspection Panel (IPN), the World Bank’s accountability mechanism. The complaint includes allegations of “underage sex and teenage pregnancy caused by road workers … sexual harassment of female employees … child labour [and] inadequate resettlement practices.” In January the Bank’s board approved the IPN’s report and recommendation. The IPN is currently investigating the case. An earlier complaint to the IPN in December 2014 was not registered to allow the Bank to address the complaints.

In December, the World Bank cancelled the $265 million transport scheme due to “the serious nature of the allegations”. Bank president Jim Yong Kim stated: “it is our obligation to properly supervise all investment projects to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are protected in our work. In this case, we did not.” Financing was first suspended in October before being withdrawn in December after the Ugandan government and contractors failed to address the concerns.

Christine Baryamuzura, a local secretary for women in the Kamwenge district, told UK newspaper The Guardian in January: “Everything has been destroyed: our gardens, our homes, even our girls … Of course we want the road, but should it be at the expense of our lives?”