Accountability Counsel supports community members in the Fontibón locality in Bogotá, Colombia in their efforts to secure remedy and hold the Inter-American Development Bank (“IDB”) accountable for funding an expansion of the El Dorado International Airport that has caused a severe noise-related health harm, among other problems.
Accountability Counsel assists Comunidades Unidas Macroproyecto Aeropuerto El Dorado (“Comunidades Unidas”), a community-based organization in Fontibón. Comunidades Unidas filed a complaint to the IDB’s accountability office, the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (“MICI”), in August 2011. While the complaint raised several important concerns about the airport expansion, one of the principal concerns was the lack of noise mitigation. Today, planes land on the runway adjacent to Fontibón up to 24 hours a day, and there is no reprieve from the noise. As a result, at least one third of adult residents of Fontibón suffer from chronic insomnia, leading to symptoms such as frequent headaches, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. The noise has also caused hearing damage in children, impacting their development and academic progress. Comunidades Unidas has documented the severe noise in this video.
After the Consultation Phase of the complaint failed to resolve the noise concerns, Comunidades Unidas turned to Accountability Counsel for assistance. In September 2014, Accountability Counsel assisted communities in filing a supplemental document analyzing violations of the IDB’s safeguards policies and arguing that the Bank bears responsibility for the severe noise-related harm. That complaint was found eligible for the Compliance Review Phase. On 3 December 2015, the Board approved MICI’s recommendation to conduct an investigation of the role of the Bank in any harm caused by expansion of the airport.
In early April 2016, three Accountability Counsel team members traveled to Colombia to support Comunidades Unidas during a visit by MICI investigators. MICI is expected to release its report with findings in early 2017.