A Kenyan judge and a Burundian technocrat are the inaugural winners of the African Development Bank (AfDB) 2022 Accountability in Action Award.
The Independent Recourse Mechanism (IRM) of AfDB announced the winners of the awards, naming Kenya’s Prof Nixon Sifuna and Burundi’s Director of Road Agency Prof Regis Mpawenayo.
Launched in 2022, the annual award recognises individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to accountability during their engagement in the IRM's complaints-handling process.
Justice Sifuna is an environmental judge at the High Court in Kenya and a grassroots attorney who played a vital role in the AfDB’s Kapenguria-Makutano Towns Sewerage Project, representing more than 500 people affected by the project in a complaint handled by the IRM through its compliance review process.
“His involvement and contributions in the complaint-handling process contributed to a successful outcome for the complainants and led to the bank choosing to relocate the project from the proposed Kapenguria site to an alternative site in Makutano,” AfDB said.
“On his part, Prof Mpawenayo played a key role in resolving a complaint related to the AfDB-financed Nyakararo-Mwaro-Gitega Road (RN18) Upgrade and Asphalting Project/Phase II – Kibumbu-Gitega (Mweya) Segment (24 km) road project in Burundi,” the bank said.
“Despite the award being in its inaugural year, we received a number of nominations, which reflects the growing recognition of the importance of accountability in sustainable development,” said Prof Damilola Olawuyi who chairs the Stakeholder Advisory Council.
“The winners have demonstrated exceptional commitment to accountability, fairness, and collaboration and we are proud to honour their achievements,” Prof Olawuyi said in a statement.
The bank added that Prof Mpawenayo demonstrated accountability by being responsive, transparent and focused on achieving his goals during the mediation process.
“His actions helped to create trust between the parties and reinforce the importance of accountability in resolving conflicts,” the bank added.
The nominees were reviewed based on their contributions to support accountability in Africa, the demonstrated and sustained contribution to accountability, fairness when addressing stakeholder-driven issues related to impact of AfDB projects on communities, integrity and commitment to marginalized people, dedication to amplifying the voices of others as well as commitment to collaboration and cooperation.
The selection committee led by Prof Olawuyi was made up of members from IRM’s Stakeholder Advisory Council and did not include any member of the IRM itself to preserve its strict independence and impartiality obligations.
“The award is a recognition of the critical role that accountability plays in sustainable development. By acknowledging the commitment to accountability demonstrated by individuals and organisations, the Accountability in Action Awards helps to ensure that the rights of project-affected people are upheld,” the bank said.