21 November 2023

Civil society groups lambaste IFC over response to sex abuse allegations

Civil society groups have accused the International Finance Corporation of “defensiveness and disingenuousness” in its response to allegations that it ignored child sex abuse in one of its projects.

The World Bank’s private sector arm reportedly failed to carry out proper due diligence or adequate monitoring, even after being made aware of allegations that teachers had abused children at Bridge International Academies schools in Kenya, in which IFC invested $13.5 million between 2013 and 2022.

The allegations come from IFC’s internal accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, or CAO, and are outlined in an investigation report sent to the World Bank’s board in early October, and seen by Devex.

IFC’s response reveals their “allergy to responsibility,” Margaux Day, policy director at the Accountability Counsel, an advocacy group focused on internationally financed projects, told Devex.

Day and Pred also criticized IFC for failing to fully address the question of remedy for the harmed children and their families — something their letter specifically called for.

“There was no commitment to remedy, just a promise to do better next time. That promise rings hollow if IFC can’t take responsibility even when faced with well researched, independently verified and documented evidence of harm in one of its projects,” Day added.

Read the full article on Devex here.