The Project: According to the Project Appraisal Document (PAD), the Project development objective is to "increase the productivity and financial and environmental sustainability of agriculture and the profitability of agribusiness in the project area." The PAD adds that the Project builds on the positive results of the first Rural Enterprise Support Project, including higher returns from cotton and wheat production, and will scale it up to a larger area through the provision of financial and capacity building support to farmers and agribusinesses in the Project area (Andijan (Uiugnor district), Bukhara (Alat district), Kashkadarya (Mirishkor district), Samarkand (Pastdargom district), Syrdarya (Bayavut), Tashkent (Buka district), and Fergana (Yazyavan district). The Project includes four components: rural finance; irrigation and drainage; rural training and advisory services.
The Request: The Requesters describe at great length the cotton harvesting system, which they claim involves child labor and forced labor practices. They state that the Project, by not adequately identifying the risks associated with these issues in its Social Assessment and other documents, is contributing to the perpetuation of child labor and forced labor.
The Panel received a Request for Inspection related to the “Second Rural Enterprise Support Project” in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Request was submitted by members of Uzbekistan’s civil society, on their behalf and on behalf of the signatories to the Request who requested that their identities be kept confidential. The Request raised concerns about the use of child and forced labor in cotton harvesting. On December 9, 2013, the Panel submitted a first report to the Board of Executive Directors. In which, based on Management’s efforts to address the Requesters’ concerns, the Panel recommended to defer for 12 months its decision on whether a full investigation would be warranted.
In its final report, the Panel noted several commitments made by Bank management to encourage the Government of Uzbekistan to address the issue of forced child and adult labor. These included: a commitment to include labor issues as part of the Bank’s ongoing dialogue with the government on agricultural issues; the considerable progress achieved in Bank –government discussions around steps taken to eradicate forces labor; and management's commitment to report to the Board of Directors on these matters.
The Panel noted that although one of Management’s earlier proposed actions on Third Party Monitoring (TPM) of child and forced labor did not materialize, the Bank and the International Labor Organization (ILO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for ILO to carry out the TPM of both child and forced labor in Bank-financed projects starting 2015 for an initial period of two years. The Panel noted the clear trajectory and specific medium-term efforts established to support the diversification and modernization of the cotton sector so that child and forced labor can be firmly eradicated. The Panel noted that this recommendation did not in any way preclude the possibility of a future Request based on new evidence or previously unknown circumstances.
Note on translation:
Translations of Inspection Panel and Management documents are unofficial and are provided as a service to interested parties. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. If any part of the translation in Russian is inconsistent with the original text in English, the later shall govern. Перевод документов Инспекционного совета и руководства Банка является неофициальным, и предоставляются в качестве услуги заинтересованным сторонам. Для обеспечения точного перевода было сделано все необходимое. Если какая-либо часть перевода на русский язык не соответсвует изначальному тексту на английском языке, последний имеет приоритет.