Affected Households reach out to ADB Accountability Mechanism, but eligibility is hard to come by

The ADB’s Accountability Mechanism accepts complaints by people harmed, or who are likely to be harmed, by ADB projects. In Cambodia, households affected by the railways rehabilitation project have actively sought to use this mechanism, following well-documented harms suffered as a result of resettlement under the project. A look at the website of the Office of the Special Project Facilitator (OSPF, one arm of the Accountability Mechanism), however reveals that out of four complaints submitted and registered, only one has to date been found eligible. Two complaints have been found ineligible, while the result of the deliberation on the most recent complaint – received by the OSPF on Mar. 26, 2013 – is yet to be made public. As such, it seems only the hundred or so complainants on the eligible OSPF have been able to (possibly) benefit from the ADB’s Accountability Mechanism (results of the OSPF’s intervention are not publicly available). Given that the railways rehabilitation project has negatively affected thousands of households in Cambodia (civil society monitors have documented systematic harms suffered by affected households) and any OSPF intervention benefits only those households who submitted the complaint, the situation with the OSPF raises important questions regarding the accessibility of the ADB’s Accountability Mechanism and the potential benefits it provides to project affected people.

(It should be noted that the ADB Compliance Review Panel (CRP), the independent arm of the Accountability Mechanism, has accepted a complaint by households affected by the railways rehabilitation project, however, given the different functions of the OSPF and CRP, questions remain about the accessibility of the former.)