Accountability Mechanism

The Accountability Mechanism of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) exists to provide an independent and effective forum for those affected by ADB-assisted projects to voice their concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

On the 2012 Accountability Mechanism (AM)

The changes in the 2012 Policy are as follows:

  • The Accountability Mechanism 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 Accountability Mechanism.
  • The problem-solving function process has now reduced to 5 steps making the process more efficient and less time consuming.

The Complaints Receiving Officer receives all complaints from people seeking access to the Accountability Mechanism and forwards complaints to either the Office of the Special Project Facilitator or Compliance Review Panel based on the complainants' choice of function. The Complaints Receiving Officer also forwards complaints that are not within the scope of the Accountability Mechanism to the appropriate departments in ADB.

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 Compliance Review Panel, one or more ADB Board members

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

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.

There is no required format. The complaint can be in the form of a simple letter addressed to the Complaints Receiving Officer 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.

Yes. Complainants may submit their complaints in the official or national language of ADB's developing member countries.

No, the Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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.

No. The Special Project Facilitator'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.

Yes. The Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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 Special Project Facilitator, 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

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 [email protected] or [email protected]]

Yes, you may submit a complaint as soon as you learn that an ADB project may affect you. Complaint should be addressed to the Complaints Receiving Officer.

For a complaint to be accepted by The Office of the Special Project Facilitator, there must be people who are directly affected. The Accountability Mechanism policy was designed as a recourse for people who experience direct and material harm caused by an ADB-assisted project

The Accountability Mechanism 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.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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. The Office of the Special Project Facilitator facilitates the problem-solving where agreement of remedial actions by stakeholders are reached. The Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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 Office of the Special Project Facilitator.

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.

The complainants, the executing agency or the private-project sponsor, and ADB are parties to a complaint.

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.

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.

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.

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 complainants request that their identities be kept confidential, the Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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.

Yes, the Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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 Special Project Facilitator Final Report.

The Office of the Special Project Facilitator makes documents publicly available by posting them in the Complaints Registry on its website.

NGOs can play various roles in complaints to the Office of the Special Project Facilitator. 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 the Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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.

The Office of the Special Project Facilitator 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. The Office of the Special Project Facilitator does not cover costs of NGOs.

On the Office of the Special Project Facilitator's Generic Advice Work

Yes. the Office of the Special Project Facilitator provides generic support and advice to projects departments in their problem-solving activities, but not for specific cases under review by the departments.