The time required to resolve a problem is highly variable and depends on the case. The consultation process is expected to take about 3 months from the date when the complaint is filed with ADB, but this time frame is indicative and may be extended by factors such as the need to translate documents, difficulty in communicating with isolated communities, and the need for more time to file documents and facilitate problem solving. Each of the first 6 steps in the 8-step consultation process has a specified time frame. In practice OSPF has found that flexibility is required in resolving problems and the final result is more important than adhering to pre-defined schedules. The implementation of the course of action does not have a time limit.
No. The SPF’s role is limited and does not include other issues apart from ADB-related issues on ADB-assisted projects. It also does not interfere in the internal matters of a borrowing country.
If you think it might be an ADB project, you could ask the people working on the project if they know who is assisting it. You could also contact the ADB resident mission in your country and ask them. If you have access to the internet, you can check the ADB projects website to see if there is such a project listed.
No. Before filing a complaint with the OSPF, you must first make a good faith effort to address your problems to the ADB operations department that is responsible for the project. The consultation phase does not replace the existing project administration and problem solving functions of ADB’s operations departments. Only if your efforts to work with the operations department have failed to resolve the problem should you file a complaint with OSPF.
Before submitting a complaint to OSPF, you should contact the operations department that is responsible for the project you are concerned about and explain your problems and the remedy you are seeking. There should be a record of exchanges of communications between you and the operations department, showing that a real effort has been made to describe the problems and to resolve them. In the final analysis it is up to the SPF to decide whether there has been a good faith effort to address the problems to the operations department.
If you don’t know who is handling the project within ADB, you can visit or send your complaint to the ADB resident mission in your country. The ADB resident mission will be able to tell you the right person to contact, or it may forward your complaint to that person. If you have access to the internet, all ADB-assisted projects are listed on the ADB website. (To search for projects on the ADB website: go to www.adb.org, click on Projects tab, click on Advanced Search, select the country and type in the Keyword box the title of the project or the project number and click Submit. Clicking on the name of the project in the Results page will direct you to the project brief, name/s of the project officer/s and other public documents related to the project). You can then send an email or letter to the project officer, explaining why you are being adversely affected by the project. You can send your letter directly to the project officer or via the ADB resident mission in your country.
The following can file a complaint:
Complaints must be filed in writing and may be sent to the Special Project Facilitator by mail, fax, or electronic mail, or may be hand delivered to ADB Headquarters or to any ADB resident/regional mission or representative office.
Yes. Complainants may submit their complaints in any of the official or national languages of ADB’s developing member countries.
No. The identity of complainants will be kept confidential if requested, but anonymous complaints are not accepted.
If complainants request that their identities be kept confidential, OSPF will respect that request and not divulge their names to other parties. In the later stages of resolving a complaint OSPF often convenes meetings among the parties, and the scope for this approach is restricted if the complainants do not wish to reveal their identities. In such cases other approaches, like individual meetings and shuttling between parties, can be pursued.
ADB’s Public Communications Policy (PCP, 2005), paragraph 119, specifies the requirements for publishing documents during the consultation phase. OSPF will publish the complaint letter if the complainant agrees. If the complainant agrees but requests confidentiality, OSPF can publish the complaint letter with names and other identifying information removed. OSPF will also publish the review and assessment report, the course of action, monitoring reports, and the final report with the consent of the complainant and the government or the private project sponsor. OSPF makes documents publicly available by posting them in the Complaints Registry on its website.
Yes. Complaints about a particular project cannot be accepted once the Project Completion Report (PCR) for that project has been issued. The PCR is usually issued one to two years after the project is physically completed.
The AM covers direct and material harm caused by ADB-assisted projects. The harm can be actual present harm, or harm that is expected in the future. OSPF has authority to look into many different types of harm or potential harm to people, including, but not limited to, harm to people and their livelihoods resulting from displacement and resettlement due to an infrastructure project; harm to indigenous peoples--their culture and traditions, territorial and developmental rights; and harm to the environment and natural resources, to the extent that this has a direct and harmful effect on people.
The AM policy covers only direct and material harm. But material harm is not necessarily the same as physical harm. If there is definite harm caused by an ADB-assisted project, such as harm to culture or to the rights of people, then it is possible that such harm could be considered material harm, depending on the case.
For a complaint to be accepted by OSPF, there must be people who are directly affected. This is because the AM policy was designed as a recourse for people who experience direct and material harm caused by an ADB-assisted project. If there are environmental effects that might affect people in some way, those people would need to describe how they would be affected, and OSPF would need to determine whether these effects would qualify under the AM policy.
Complaints must come from affected people, but NGOs can serve various roles in this process. NGOs can act as representatives of complainants, if the complainants themselves provide specific written authorization for the NGO to represent them. NGOs can also be advisors to complainants, act as intermediaries between complainants and OSPF, serve as channels of communication, or be observers. The roles of NGOs depend on the situation, can be different for each complaint, and need to be agreed upon and monitored during the consultation process.
Yes. The following matters are excluded:
ADB takes corruption allegations very seriously and has a separate office that works on those issues. Anyone who wishes to call the attention of ADB to possible cases of corruption, fraud, coercion, collusion, abuse, conflict of interest or obstructive practice related to an ADB-financed activity should contact the Office of Anticorruption and Integrity [send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; send a facsimile (fax) to 63 2 636 2152; or send correspondence marked “Strictly Confidential” to Office of Anticorruption and Integrity (OAI), Asian Development Bank, 6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, 1550 Metro Manila, Philippines]. Further information about ADB’s anticorruption policy and OAI is available at http://www.adb.org/integrity.
There is no required format. The complaint can be in the form of a simple letter addressed to the SPF with basic information about the project and the concerns of the complainants. However, there is a suggested format, and this is available in a number of languages. See sample complaint letters.
If the complaint letter is in English, OSPF proceeds to acknowledge and register the complaint in its Complaints Registry. If it is in another language, OSPF identifies an independent translator and has the complaint translated before acknowledging and registering it. OSPF then proceeds to determine whether the complaint meets OSPF’s eligibility criteria. The determination of eligibility may include desk-based research, interviews, and in many cases a visit to the field to meet the complainants and other stakeholders and see the project area. Based on these inquiries, the SPF decides whether a complaint is eligible or not. If eligible, OSPF conducts a review and assessment to explore the history of the complaint, identify and describe the specific issues, assess the likelihood of solving the problem, and recommend a course of action to resolve the problem. This entails going to the field again and meeting with the complainants, the executing agency and the ADB operations department concerned, and assessing the issues through a variety of means like surveys, one-on-one interviews, meetings, etc. The results of the review and assessment and proposed course of action are contained in what is called a Review and Assessment Report (RAR).
OSPF follows an 8-step procedure. For more details, please read the OSPF Consultation Primer: Procedures for Complaint Handling.
The complainants, the executing agency or the private-project sponsor, and ADB are parties to a complaint. The success or failure of the consultation process largely depends on the parties’ willingness or reluctance to come to an agreement.
OSPF will pay or reimburse any direct costs to the complainants, such as travel to meetings or income foregone due to attendance at meetings. However, complainants need to understand that resolving complex issues may take considerable time. OSPF does not cover costs of NGOs.
Yes. OSPF also has a mandate to provide generic support and advice to projects departments in their problem-solving activities, but not for specific cases under review by the departments.