Kenya: 'Loopholes' helped World Bank evade responsibility for proposed Lamu coal plant, says Accountability Counsel

Author: Accountability Counsel, Published on: 5 September 2019

"IFC Escapes Responsibility for Lamu Coal Plant Contributions"

Community members and activists have bravely and tirelessly resisted plans to construct a 1,050-megawatt coal-fired power plant on the Lamu coastline, in Kenya, despite intimidationrepression and smear campaigns. They have left no stone unturned in their efforts to hold the actors responsible for this disastrous project accountable. Yet a group of investors, led by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), has narrowly avoided responsibility for its contributions to date. Steps must be taken to close this accountability gap...

While we question whether all of these factors are appropriate considerations at the eligibility stage (as opposed to later in the CAO process), none of them seem totally unreasonable or irrelevant. However, the fact that they are largely undisclosed (they are not listed anywhere on the CAO’s website, and the majority of them were not even mentioned in the CAO’s brief written eligibility decision) – is a grave lack of transparency that is difficult to reconcile with the CAO’s mandate to be accessible to communities who are seeking accountability for environmental and social harm.

These three factors combine to create easy loopholes for the IFC to evade responsibility for its contributions to harmful projects like the Lamu coal plant. Together with our civil society partners, we will continue to advocate for greater transparency and safeguards around the IFC’s FI portfolio. We will also use the upcoming reviews of the IFC and the CAO to advocate for changes that will improve its transparency, in order to strengthen its ability to deliver accountability for harm caused by IFC projects, including FI projects. In the meantime, Save Lamu and the Kwasasi farmers are continuing their brave resistance. 

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