Facilitating access to remedy for people’s concerns about the impact of IFC and MIGA projects is at the heart of CAO’s work.
All complaints accepted by CAO must come from people who are or may be directly affected by an IFC or MIGA project.
Responses to CAO’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) surveys show that communities most commonly find out about CAO from CSOs/NGOs (civil society or nongovernmental organizations). The presence of a vibrant and resourced civil society may be one reason that more complainants access CAO in some countries than others, particularly where they are supported by local or national civil society groups. Increasingly, complainants access CAO without assistance from others.
Responses to CAO’s M&E surveys reveal that the majority of complainants tried to raise their concerns through other channels before coming to CAO. Only 10 percent did not try to resolve their concerns through other means.
If ease of access is an important aspect of an effective grievance mechanism, how easy or difficult did complainants find it to access CAO?
Three quarters of complainants considered it easier to bring a complaint to CAO than the alternative channels or methods they considered for seeking redress.
As part of a concerted strategy to spread the word about CAO, we have reached out to more than 3,500 organizations in over 80 countries around the globe since initiating our outreach program in 2007. We conduct in-person and online outreach events and training workshops – with community representatives and civil society organizations, as well as with the private sector, government, and other participants – to raise awareness about access to recourse and remedy, CAO’s mandate, and how we work with project-affected people, IFC and MIGA clients, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders worldwide.
Another obstacle to complainants raising concerns about a development project or accessing a grievance mechanism is fear of reprisals. CAO has documented a steady rise in concerns about threats and reprisals by the complainants we interact with, and has developed an approach to responding to threats and reprisals in CAO operations. Core elements of the approach include a focus on prevention, a commitment to strong confidentiality protections, complainant participation, and informed consent to any measures adopted in response to threats. These elements have been integrated in CAO’s Policy.
CAO has committed to report annually about threats and reprisals in our operations. The data shows a growing risk: complainants in nearly 45 percent of cases handled in 2020 and 2021 shared concerns about risks or active threats, up from 36 percent in 2019 and 23 percent in 2018. Of these, 31 percent of complainants reported that these threats and reprisals emanated from public authorities – ranging from local community officials to police forces – 31 percent reported that they came from the company, and 25 percent that they came from both public authorities and the company.