Fears have been raised about the capacity of the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, the Inspection Panel (IPN), to effectively respond to complaints brought by those affected by World Bank-financed projects during the Covid-19 pandemic, after delays in an eligibility decision on a case in Nepal.
In correspondence with CSO partners in November, Nepalese civil society network Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ) highlighted “extreme delays in eligibility determination of complaints by Inspection Panel.” CEMSOJ lamented that while, “Indigenous Newa(r) and local communities in south of Kathmandu affected by the World Bank financed Chobhar dry port filed a complaint to the Inspection Panel in late April 2020 which was subsequently registered in May 2020”, the IPN has deferred the eligibility determination until they can undertake a field mission, the timing of which remains highly uncertain given the pandemic.
The IPN’s decision took place despite the fact that a local consultant it commissioned submitted his report following his visit to the affected communities. Although the community voiced concerns about this delay through correspondence with World Bank executive directors, no action has been taken. In the meantime, construction of the project, which is 50 per cent completed, continues amidst the presence of armed police personnel. The communities are unable to undertake public actions to express their concerns due to a ban on large public gatherings. “It is highly likely that any accountability of wrongdoing of the World Bank in construction of the dry port…will be too late to avoid or mitigate the irreversible damage the dry port is causing to the local communities,” said Prabindra Shakya of CEMSOJ.