African Development Bank (AfDB) | Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)

  • Overview

    The African Development Bank  (AfDB) is the parent organization of the AfDB Group, a regional development bank for Africa.

    African Development Bank (AfDB)

    Created In: 1964

    Headquarters: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

    Member Countries: 81

    Largest Shareholder: Nigeria

    Mission: The overarching objective of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in its regional member countries (RMCs), thus contributing to poverty reduction.

    The Accountability Office: Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)

    Established in: 2004

    Functions: Compliance Review, Problem Solving/Mediation, Advisory

    Visit the IRM’s website

    Projects funded by the AfDB must follow the AfDB’s Integrated Safeguards System, which includes policies on environmental and social assessments, involuntary resettlement, labour, and biodiversity, among others.

    The AfDB also has a policy on disclosure and access to information, which governs public access to information related to the AfDB’s operations and AfDB-funded projects.


    The Accountability Office

    The AfDB’s Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) applies to both private- and public-sector AfDB operations and has both compliance review and problem-solving functions. The IRM may choose to employ one function or the other, both (simultaneously or sequenced), or neither. The IRM is housed in the AfDB’s Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), which evaluates the AfDB’s operations.

    Submit a complaint to the AfDB’s IRM if:

    • You and at least one other person are located in a country where an AfDB project is located; and
    • Your rights or interests have been, or are threatened to be, directly, adversely, and materially affected by an AfDB project.

    The IRM will review your complaint and either register the complaint, reject it, or request more information. Taking your preference into consideration, the IRM will decide whether a complaint will be dealt with as a problem-solving initiative or compliance review. The problem-solving process involves a dialogue or mediation between you, the bank, and other interested parties. A compliance review will ask whether the AfDB obeyed its policies in designing, implementing, and supervising the project.

    If a compliance review is initiated, an IRM expert will conduct an investigation with support from the CRMU. After the review process is concluded, a report will be issued documenting the findings and any potential recommendations to remedy non-compliance. The CRMU will monitor any measures implemented as the result of either the compliance review or problem-solving process.

    For more information, see our brochure on the IRM (with SOMO), our Accountability Resource Guide, or visit the IRM’s website.

  • Our Advocacy

    Accountability Counsel has been instrumental in pushing the IRM to operate according to best practices, including active participation in reviews of the accountability office’s policies. As a result of our advocacy, we have seen improvements to the IRM’s independence, accessibility, and effectiveness.

    AC and a partner in Nairobi

    Along with our partners, we have continued to advocate for the IRM to fully implement its policy and improve operations, and for the AfDB to play a constructive role in the complaint process. In May of 2018, we were in Abidjan for the AfDB’s Civil Society Forum, where we engaged with the bank’s board members, staff, and accountability office to call for improvements in institutional accountability. Prior to forum, we met with over 40 civil society partners to develop strategies for future engagement with the AfDB and other financiers operating in Africa.

    In October 2018, Accountability Counsel’s Stephanie Amoako participated in the annual African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA) General Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. ACCA is a coalition of organizations from African countries that supports African communities and individuals whose human rights are adversely impacted daily by the activities of corporations, both multinational and domestic. Stephanie met with partners and stakeholders to share our work on accountability offices, including the AfDB’s IRM, and discuss strategies to hold corporations accountable for harms on the continent. More information about the General Assembly can be found here.

    Accountability Counsel will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the IRM is a robust and effective avenue for remedy for communities negatively impacted by AfDB projects.

  • Past Advocacy
  • Documents

    Institutional Documents

    Disclosure and Access to Information

    Policy Statement and Operational Safeguards


    Documents by Release Date

    April 20152015 Resolution on the Establishment of the IRM and 2015 Operating Rules and Procedures

    December 2013 – Policy Statement and Operational Safeguards

    September 2013 – Accountability Counsel and SOMO wrote this brochure on the IRM

    May 2012  Disclosure and Access to Information