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Safeguards and Sustainability Series

The State of Indigenous People in Africa

In the quest to achieve its primary objective of assisting African countries to attain economic development and social progress, the African Development Bank (AfDB) acknowledges the right to effective participation in decision making as essential for the development of an inclusive and just society. It equally recognises the need to promote respect for human rights and good governance. In this respect therefore, the Bank commissioned the preparation of an issues paper to provide an overview of the state of Indigenous People in Africa, highlighting options for their inclusion in the Bank’s development projects in its Regional Member Countries (RMCs).

This Issues Paper on Development and Indigenous Peoples in Africa, prepared by the Compliance and Safeguards Division of the AfDB, summarises the African perspective of indigenous people on the continent. It also provides insight into general trends in the handling of indigenous peoples’ affairs by international institutions, with a focus on due diligence and accountability.

In light of lessons learned from the review of the status of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups in Africa, the Bank can now account more effectively for ecological implications and their impact on social conditions and livelihoods of vulnerable populations in member countries.  The Bank can also effectively and more efficiently address social and human development issues related to the implementation of its safeguard policies and procedures, which have been designed to ensure sustainable development. The AfDB has therefore taken the path of ensuring equal opportunity for all people, and that its operations and assistance to RMCs do not negatively affect the welfare and interests of all, indigenous peoples included.




Integrated Safeguards System - Guidance Materials

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) gives high priority to the provision of high quality technical guidance to its Regional Member Countries (RMCs) to strengthen capacity for sustainable development and to foster ownership of the Integrated Safeguards System (ISS).

The new Integrated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (IESIA) guidance materials are the third component of the ISS and are intended to provide necessary knowledge to Bank’s RMCs when undertaking environmental impact assessments for Bank financed projects/programs. They can be also be used by the Bank’s Operational staff in reviewing and clearing these studies and in project supervision.


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Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures (ESAP)

assesment procedures

The African Development Bank’s existing Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures (approved in 2001) have been revised to reflect the updated information, upgraded processes and cutting-edge knowledge embodied in the Integrated Safeguards System (ISS). It also addresses the limitations of the existing ESAP and provides a strong procedural basis for the operationalization of the Integrated Safeguards Systems. It details the specific procedures that the Bank and its borrowers or clients should follow to ensure that Bank operations meet the requirements of the operational safeguards (OSs) at each stage of the Bank’s project cycle. 

Its adoption and implementation enhance the environmental and social performance of the Bank’s operations and improve project outcomes. The ESAP will help to improve decision-making and project results by ensuring that Bank-financed operations conform to the requirements laid out in the operational safeguards (OS) and are thus sustainable. Effective implementation of the ESAP will help to avoid incurring costs and implementation delays as a result of unanticipated problems. It will also reduce the need for project conditionality as remedial measures can be taken in advance and incorporated into project design or project alternatives can be considered. 

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The African Development Bank’s involuntary resettlement policy: Review of implementation

resetlement policy

This study critically reviews the African Development Bank’s Involuntary Resettlement Policy and its implementation on AfDB-funded operations on the African continent with the aim of identifying opportunities and areas of improvement to ensure its adherence to internationally recognized best practices. 

The African Development Bank Group’s Involuntary Resettlement (IR) policy was adopted in 2003 to cover involuntary displacement and resettlement of people caused by Bank-financed projects. The Bank adopted its IR policy in 2003 to guide the involuntary displacement and resettlement of people under Bank-financed operations. The policy applies when, because of a Bank project, people living in the project area are compelled to relocate or they lose their shelter, their assets or livelihoods, and their access to natural resources is restricted. 

After a decade of implementing the policy, it was deemed necessary to review its efficiency and effectiveness in terms of its implementation and coherence. It is with this background, therefore, that the Bank commissioned this study with the main objective of critically assessing the implementation of the Bank’s Involuntary Resettlement Policy. 

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Assessment of the use of “Country Systems” for environmental and social safeguards and their implications for AfDB-financed operations in Africa

country systems

Development partners have a key role to play in supporting Africa’s endeavours in the areas of environmental capacity and good governance, in line with the requirement of the “Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness”. The African Development Bank stands ready to address the capacity gaps and to increase the reliance on country systems in delivering its development interventions at a time when developing the capacities of national administrations to manage the environment is particularly urgent and amidst an agenda of global importance. 

The Bank has made a commitment to understanding its regional member country safeguards systems and their laws, regulations, rules and procedures on the policy areas of environment, involuntary resettlement, and their implementing institutions.The Bank has therefore concluded a pilot assessment of the use of “country systems” for environmental and social safeguards and their implications for Bank-financed operations as part of the process of designing an Integrated Safeguards System (ISS) – a cornerstone of its strategy to promote growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. 

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African Development Bank Group’s Integrated Safeguards System

Safeguards image

On December 17, 2013 the Boards of the African Development Bank unanimously adopted the Integrated Safeguards System (ISS) – a cornerstone of the Bank’s strategy to promote growth that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Safeguards are a powerful tool for identifying risks, reducing development costs and improving project sustainability, thus benefiting affected communities and helping to preserve the environment. 

With this Integrated Safeguards System the Bank will be better equipped to address emerging environmental and social development challenges. The Integrated Safeguards System not only promotes best practices in these areas but also encourages greater transparency and accountability. It upholds the voices of people who are affected by Bank-funded operations, especially the most vulnerable communities, by providing, for example, project-level grievance and redress mechanisms – a structured, systematic and managed way of allowing the voices and concerns of affected people to be heard and addressed during project planning and implementation. 

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