The European Investment Bank (EIB) disbursed an additional EUR 40 million for the Bujagali dam in Uganda while complaints from the local communities are still waiting for a response. The dam is controversial because of its social and environmental impact. “By neglecting its own complaint mechanism, the EIB proves that its policy is nothing more than a green washing machine”, several civil society organisations state.

Counter Balance, the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) from Uganda, the lawyer’s associations Sherpa and CLAI express their great concern about the EIB undermining its own Complaints Mechanism Policy. The new policy approved in 2008, established two instances of judgment, the first one within the bank through the EIB complaint office and the second one through the European Ombudsman.

In November 2009 the undersigned organizations filed a complaint concerning the Bujagali Hydroelectric Project in Uganda alleging the violation of several bank’s policies. The project has been opposed by the local communities since more than a decade and strongly criticised by the World Bank Inspection Panel that identified many areas of non-compliance with the bank’s internal policies and guidelines.

According to the EIB’s own Complaints Mechanism Policy, the EIB Complaints Office has six months time to address the complaint. We are more than a year later now but the complaint is still pending.

At the date of the submission of the complaint the bank had only disbursed EUR 42,5 million of the total loan of EUR 95 million. In a meeting held in Paris with the plaintiffs in January 2010 the complaint officers ensured that the bank was not going to disburse additional money before the investigation would be closed. More than one year later the plaintiffs are still waiting for a response from the EIB complaint office while during the same period, however, the bank disbursed an additional EUR 40 million.

“It’s clear the bank’s intention is to go on with business as usual and undermine the role of the Complaints Office. This is clearly reflected by the human resources allocated to the Complaints Mechanism Policy: in 2010 the bank received around 50 complaints with only 3 officers in charge to address them”, adds Caterina Amicucci from Counter Balance.

“The bank is not serious at all in dealing with communities’ concerns, the bank disbursed an additional EUR 40 million and the project is well under way. We are determined to take the case to the European Ombudsman”, concluded Frank Muramuzi from the Ugandan association NAPE.

You can find more information on theinitial complainthere