The World Bank has incorporated a new dialogue with civil
society groups from African countries into its objective of ensuring successful
implementation of projects it has launched in developing nations. Earlier this month at its annual Washington
meeting, civil society groups were invited to attend briefings with Bank
officials and finance ministers to address a number of concerns about holding
participants responsible for projects to serve the needs for which they were
created. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, who
directs the Nigeria branch of Transparency International, says that adding local input to the dialogue will open
up a new dimension of accountability that will help the projects’ chances of
Bank is helping to create this enabling environment of dialogue between the
government and the civil society groups which does not exist in many of the
countries in Africa and in developing countries. So we see this as an opportunity for engaging at the higher
levels of government,” he said.
ministers and bankers from virtually every country in Africa attended this
month’s World Bank-International Monetary Fund deliberations in
Washington. Participatation in this
first three-way encounter with civil society groups was less extensive. It included activists from Nigeria, Ghana,
Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Uganda, and Tanzania. Transparency International’s Rafsanjani says
discussion ranged from agriculture to helping people with disabilities.
terms of the areas that these civil society groups discussed extensively with
the Bank’s officials and the ministers of finance included agriculture, climate
change, and a framework for transparency and accountability in the Bank. It
also discussed issues of administering for people with disabilities because
most projects did not take into consideration (the needs) of people with
disabilities while implementing those projects. Also, areas that civil societies were much interested in included
also revenue transparency on extractive issues. We also discussed water.
We also discussed the food crisis,” he noted.
society groups have pushed hard for the new dialogue, not only to get their
ideas across to Bank executives, but also as a useful channel reaching
officials in their own countries whom in many cases they would not have had the
access or resources to contact. Rafsanjani
credits the Bank for realizing the importance of opening up this new channel.
is a good principle in many civil societies to express some of their concern
and frustration to the Bank directly without any barrier. It is also another opportunity for the
groups to tell their governments, who would never give them while sitting in
their countries to dialogue with them, to say, ‘Look, you can’t continue to be
borrowing money for canceling projects. You have borrowed a lot of money, and
we have not seen the impact.’ So that
whenever you are implementing any projects, it is in the interest of the
people. And the civil society this time
around will now be carefully monitoring the implementation of this World Bank
projects in their country,” he said.
For local advocacy groups, particularly in the case of Nigeria, the new
dialogue also offers an opportunity to stop corruption from seeping into
urgently needed public works.
Rafsanjani says he hopes the constructive engagement with governments
and the Bank will continue, not only at the international level, but will also
find a way to “be mainstreamed at national levels.”