African Development Bank holds webinar on accountability for Southern African CSOs

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from eight Southern African countries participated in a webinar on accountability and good governance in projects funded by multilateral development banks.

“The role of CSOs in promoting principles of transparency and accountability, and in amplifying citizens’ voice and participation are key ingredients in achieving inclusive and sustainable development,” said Vanessa Moungar, Director of the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society, in opening remarks.

The webinar, organized by The African Development Bank, aimed to sensitize the groups about the role and importance of independent accountability mechanisms and how greater transparency and accountability in development bank-funded projects enhances social and environmental impacts for beneficiaries.

David Simpson, Director of the Bank’s Independent Review Mechanism, underscored the importance of accountability, saying it is a critical element of addressing poverty, governance, and environmental insecurity. “At its core, accountability is about holding people and institutions to account for their impacts on the lives of people, and the planet,” he reiterated. “Those impacted have a right to be heard and listened to.”

His remarks were echoed by Dr. Shungu Gwarinda, Acting CEO of the Graça Machel Trust, who described African CSOs as “watchdogs and influencers for inclusive development” and, therefore, key actors in promoting accountability.

The webinar was composed of two sessions: the first one was conducted by Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) on the issues of accountability, the role of IAMs and CSOs in the process and how to identify projects funded by the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

The second session was organized in the form of brainstorming around safety of CSOs in raising their voices, possible collaboration/partnerships between IAMs and CSOs in the field of accountability, and the response by IAMs to the issue of intimidation and reprisals against CSOs and Project Affected People (PAPs).

“Among the challenges faced by CSOs and project-affected people are intimidation and reprisals” insisted Ramanie Kunanayagam of the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, an independent accountability mechanism.

Webinar participants also learned about the experiences of two NGOs, Accountability Counsel and Bank Information Center; on the strategies they had used to successfully support communities adversely affected by an MDB-funded project.

The virtual seminar was hosted by the Bank’s Independent Review Mechanism in partnership with the Graça Machel Trust on 28 April. The African Development Bank’s Civil Society and Community Engagement Division, the World Bank’s Inspection Panel and Bank Information Center and Accountability Counsel also participated.

In her closing remarks, Leila Mokadem, Regional Director of the African Development Bank’s Southern Africa Regional Office, reiterated the role of CSOs as key development partners in the transformation of their country’s social and economic situation. She encouraged participants to continue to work together for the inclusive and sustainable development of the continent.

Participating CSOs were based in Anglophone countries where the African Development Bank currently has operations in, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Source: African Development Bank Group