Follow-up on concerns raised towards Transparency and CSOs’ Engagement in the AfDB’s DAI policy review

Follow-up on concerns raised towards Transparency and CSOs’ Engagement in the AfDB’s DAI policy review

On May 10 2021, Arab Watch Coalition and various other Civil Society groups addressed a letter to the African Development Bank (AfDB). In this correspondence, CSOs flagged lack of Transparency and Citizen Engagement in the implementation review of the AfDB’s Disclosure and Access to Information (DAI) Policy. On 02 June, the AfDB group phrased a letter in response to concerns raised.

“The Bank Group is committed to, and takes very seriously its pledge to enshrine the good governance principles of transparency, accountability, and information sharing on all its operations.” – AfBD Group

Following-up on this response, civil society replied the AfDB Group today. They find the Bank’s response and efforts at transparency, effective consultation process and CSOs engagement quite substandard. The upcoming Annual General Meetings will take place from 23 to 25 June 2021 and will discuss how to build resilient economies in post COVID-19 in African countries. The event will gather the Bank staff, senior government officials, development partners, academics and journalists. Civil Society groups are not included into these discussions, and it’s not quite clear what is expected of their participation.

What civil society expects is factual steps to take towards transparency in its consultation process. Noting that the AfDB’s response phrases its commitment to its transparency and accountability statement, the DAI Policy implementation review process has not been disclosed yet on the AfDB’s website. This however is a broad gap between the Bank’s drafted policy and practice.

“Openness and transparency are key principles of the Policy on Disclosure and Access to Information (DAI).  ‘Openness’ reflects our willingness and availability to engage with stakeholders, and the provision of effective platforms and instruments for such engagement. ‘Transparency’ denotes the availability and facilitated access to information.”  AfDB’s Policy on Disclosure and Access to Information

Moreover, in the Bank’s response, CSOs in Africa has been asked to complete a list of questions in (discussion guide) English. While Africa is a continent with a very rich linguistic diversity, language barrier is a firm restriction to local communities and a wide range of civil society groups, this form of elitism could also be pronounced as discrimination.

“The consultation with CSOs has limited contribution to be done in written format. This is also limiting for other communities and civil society groups affected by the Bank’s investments who are unable to provide input in writing, and would find other formats more accessible, like virtual meetings and in-person consultations.” 

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