WASHINGTON, June 1, 2023 – Community members affected by a World Bank-financed infrastructure project in Uganda and the Government of Uganda reached a settlement in the case after an intensive 18-month mediation process conducted by the World Bank Accountability Mechanism’s Dispute Resolution Service, the Accountability Mechanism announced today.
The original complaint arose from a part of the Second Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project, a massive $183 million initiative designed to improve urban mobility and economic growth in the greater Kampala area. The resolution of the case addressed many concerns raised by community members around an involuntary resettlement and land acquisition process. Details of the settlement remained confidential by agreement of both parties.
The agreement marks the conclusion of the World Bank’s first-ever independent dispute resolution case – and is the second such mediated outcome in the last two months following a settlement in April between members of a community in Nepal and the Government of Nepal in a transmission line project.
The Dispute Resolution Service, which is part of a newly formed and independent World Bank Accountability Mechanism (AM), became operational in late 2021, and had drawn up interim operating procedures just in time for the start of the Uganda dispute resolution case. In 2020, the World Bank Board of Directors formed the AM to offer communities who have filed a complaint about a World Bank project the option of either mediation or a compliance investigation process.
In the Uganda case, community members raised concerns about work on the Lubigi channel construction financed under the infrastructure project, alleging that they were excluded from the project’s resettlement under a 2017 World Bank Resettlement Action Plan. The community members alleged they were faced with a forced eviction attempt and were rushed through a threatening and coercive resettlement process under a supplementary Resettlement Action Plan.
In the dispute resolution process, two civil society groups -- Witness Radio and Accountability Counsel – served as advisers to the community during the process. The Government’s lead representative was the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the agency responsible for implementing the project.
“I would like to thank Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) and the World Bank, as well as Accountability Counsel and Witness Radio, who are our advisers, for their good work done for us,” said Peter Kazibe, one of the community members who signed the agreement. “We thank the World Bank for not letting us down. Since we raised our complaint, they stayed with us until the conclusion. I also thank KCCA for participating in these negotiations. Had they not agreed to come, we would never have achieved anything. According to me this was a good process, because all the issues that were raised have been handled. For example, mine was a land issue, and DRS raised this and made KCCA aware about it, and KCCA has handled it well. Had it not been for DRS I would not have reached here.”
Another community member, Michael Kabugo, said he also appreciated the work that led to the settlement: “I must admit that the process has been OK. There were some hardships, but DRS and the mediators have handled it well. I also really appreciate the participation of my fellow requesters. What made me happy is that at least we reached a point whereby my request, that I made in a meeting, was finally recognized. The community appreciated the efforts the representatives put in, and in the end, everyone walked away happy. I would request that the World Bank always follows up on its projects like this, so people’s queries can be heard. We have learned a lot, and now I feel like I can sensitize others, if given the opportunity.”
David Luyimbazi, KCCA’s Deputy Executive Director, said he also appreciated the opportunity to engage in a deeper, constructive manner with members of the affected community.
"On behalf of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), we are very glad that we have reached an amicable settlement on the issues raised by the requestors,” Luyimbazi said. “The process has been a learning one where the importance of respectful engagement between parties has been one of the highlights. This has been an agreement between equal partners for the good of the project and the country. We look forward to implementing the agreed actions in compliance with the commitments we have made here today in the presence of the Dispute Resolution Service members."
Orsolya Székely, Accountability Mechanism Secretary, said the case was “groundbreaking in many ways. It was our first case. It took 18 months of almost daily contact with the parties, hearing and addressing individual and community concerns in great detail. I want to thank both the community members and the Government representatives for trusting the process and working with each other to find a mutually acceptable outcome. They showed great commitment and resolve in reaching an agreement, aided by our excellent mediators and team members, the community’s advisers, and Bank Management as observers.”
The case began in July 2021 with a complaint filed by the community to the World Bank Inspection Panel, which is part of the Accountability Mechanism. The Panel conducted its eligibility assessment and recommended that the complaint was eligible for further investigation. The World Bank Board approved the Panel’s recommendation in October 2021.
Székely, the Accountability Mechanism Secretary, offered the option of dispute resolution with a one-year deadline to the community and the Government, and both parties agreed to accept the offer in December 2021.
The dispute resolution process started with both parties drafting a framework agreement, which established the parameters of the scope of the mediation, the key issues, the representatives of the parties, the roles of advisers and observers, and an agreement that the process would be bound by strict confidentiality. By agreement of the parties, World Bank Management representatives joined the process as observers at appropriate moments of the mediation.
Over the next months, the mediation helped build trust and confidence in the process and the first face-to-face meetings between the parties were held in April 2022. The parties then reached a series of interim agreements, many of which were implemented in stages during the dispute resolution process. The implementation of those agreements further helped build trust between the parties.
Both parties asked Székely in December 2022, at the one-year mark, to extend the process by six months to give them more time to reach a time. She agreed and set the deadline for June 1. The parties reached agreement just one day before the deadline, after considering all options.
The independence of the Dispute Resolution Process from Bank Management was ensured throughout the process, and Bank Management are similarly bound by confidentiality requirements related to the mediation.