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Frequently Asked Questions
On the 2012 Accountability Mechanism (AM)
How is the 2012 AM Policy different from the 2003 Policy?
The Changes in the 2012 Policy are as follows:
- The AM will continue to have two functions: the problem-solving and compliance review functions. Complainants can now choose to start with the problem-solving or compliance review phase. Complainants can exit the problem-solving phase at any time during the process. Upon completion of step 3, complainants can also request compliance review if they have serious compliance issues.
- To provide an easily accessible single entry point for project-affected people, this two-pronged structure is now supported by the Complaint Receiving Officer (CRO) who receives all complaints from people seeking access to the AM.
- The problem-solving function process has now reduced to 5 steps making the process more efficient and less time consuming.
What are the functions of the CRO?
The CRO receives all complaints from people seeking access to the AM and forwards complaints to either the OSPF or CRP based on the complainants' choice of function. The CRO also forwards complaints that are not within the scope of the AM to the appropriate departments in ADB.
Who can file a complaint with the AM?
The following can file a complaint:
- Any group of two or more people – an organization, association, society, or other group of individuals in the country where the ADB-assisted project is located
- A local representative duly appointed as the agent of people affected by a project
- A nonlocal representative in exceptional cases where local representation cannot be found
- For the CRP, one or more ADB Board members
Is there a cutoff point beyond which the AM cannot accept complaints?
Yes. The latest date by which a complaint can be filed is 2 years after the loan or grant closing date. This date is known in advance, disclosed to the public, and can be found on the ADB website.
On the Problem-Solving Function
What is the Problem-Solving Function?
The problem-solving function assists people who believe they have been adversely affected by an ADB-assisted project to voice their concerns and seek solutions to their problems. It is outcome driven and uses flexible and consensus-based methods with the consent and participation of all parties concerned.
Is there a format to be followed in writing complaints?
There is no required format. The complaint can be in the form of a simple letter addressed to the CRO with basic information about the project and the concerns of the complainants. However, a sample complaint letter is available on the web which complainants can use. Otherwise, complainants can simply fill out a complaint form which is also available on the web.
Can complainants submit their complaints in languages other than English?
Yes. Complainants may submit their complaints in the official or national language of ADB's developing member countries.
Can OSPF accept anonymous complaints?
No, OSPF cannot accept anonymous complaints. The persons or representatives sending the complaint must identify themselves. However, the identities of the actual complainants will be kept confidential if requested.
Does the SPF look into problems other than ADB-related issues?
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.
Are there matters which OSPF cannot consider?
Yes. OSPF excludes the following:
- Matters not related to ADB's actions or omissions in formulating, processing, or implementing ADB-assisted projects
- When complainants have not made good faith efforts to address with the operations department concerned
- Procurement of goods, services and consulting services
- Matters already considered by the SPF, unless complainants have new evidence previously not available to them and unless the subsequent complaint can be readily consolidated with the earlier complaint
- Allegations of fraud and corruption in ADB-assisted projects and by ADB staff
- An ADB-assisted project which has been closed for 2 or more years
- Adequacy or suitability of ADB's existing policies and procedures
- Matters that are frivolous, malicious, trivial, or generated to gain competitive advantage
Why doesn't the AM cover allegations of corruption?
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]
Can we submit a complaint to the OSPF as soon as we learn that we may be affected by an ADB project?
Yes, you may submit a complaint as soon as you learn that an ADB project may affect you. Complaint should be addressed to the CRO.
Will OSPF accept complaints about effects on the environment where there may be no directly affected people?
For a complaint to be accepted by OSPF, there must be people who are directly affected. The AM policy was designed as a recourse for people who experience direct and material harm caused by an ADB-assisted project
What types of harm can project-affected people cite when submitting a complaint to the AM?
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. Examples of harm would be displacement, loss of livelihoods, loss of indigenous peoples culture and traditions, loss of territorial and developmental rights; and harm to the environment and natural resources.
What happens when a complaint is filed with OSPF?
Upon receipt of the complaint, OSPF checks if a complaint is eligible and proceeds to review and assess the complaint once declared eligible. The findings in this step are recorded in the Review and Assessment Report (RAR) where a course of action is also proposed. OSPF facilitates the problem solving where agreement of remedial actions by stakeholders are reached. OSPF d monitors the remedial actions implementation And concludes the process when monitoring has been completed.
For more details on the 5-step process, please read Problem-Solving Primer on the OSPF.
Can complainants switch from problem solving to compliance review?
Yes, if complainants have serious issues regarding compliance, they may request for compliance review during the problem-solving phase. They may however, only do so after completion of step 3 in the problem solving phase. In such cases, the problem-solving and compliance review will run in parallel.
Who are parties to a complaint?
The complainants, the executing agency or the private-project sponsor, and ADB are parties to a complaint.
How long does it take to resolve a complaint in the problem-solving function?
The time required to resolve a complaint varies from case to case depending on its complexity, nature and scope of the complaint. The time needed is also based on factors such as the need to translate documents, accessing and communicating with isolated communities, and facilitating problem solving. The maximum time allowed however is two years.
How can I tell if a particular activity in my area is being assisted by ADB?
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.
What constitutes a good faith effort to address problems to the operations department?
Before submitting a complaint, you should contact the operations department 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 real effort has been made to resolve problems together.
How can I find out whom to contact in 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.
How does OSPF ensure confidentiality?
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 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.
Will OSPF publish any documents related to a complaint?
Yes, the OSPF will publish documents related to the complaint but only with the consent of the complainants and government. Documents that are normally published are the complaint letter, the review and assessment report (RAR), monitoring reports and the SPF Final Report.
OSPF makes documents publicly available by posting them in the Complaints Registry on its website.
What roles can NGOs have in complaints to OSPF?
NGOs can play various roles in complaints to OSPF. 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 for communications purposes. The roles of NGOs depend on the situation, can be different for each complaint, and need to be agreed upon and monitored during the problem-solving process.
Will OSPF cover costs the complainants incur in participating in the consultation process?
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.
On OSPF's Generic Advice Work
Does OSPF have other mandates apart from problem-solving?
Yes. OSPF provides generic support and advice to projects departments in their problem-solving activities, but not for specific cases under review by the departments.