IFC’s Response to Sexual Abuse Does Not Provide Remedy to Bridge Survivors; Executive Directors Should Reject It

Press Release
Berlin 08.03.2024

On this International Women’s Day, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is asking its Executive Directors to endorse an inadequate and flawed Management Action Plan (MAP) in response to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman’s (CAO) investigation of child sexual abuse at Bridge International schools in Kenya. Executive Directors should reject the proposed MAP.

The facts are clear. IFC supported a reckless educational experiment on African children, financing Bridge to rapidly expand their private school network in Kenya and beyond. Yet, IFC failed to conduct due diligence required by its own policies to make sure the schools were safe. Bridge employed sexual predators. Bridge students were abused and suffered long-term harm. Even after multiple cases of abuse were brought to IFC’s attention, IFC did nothing to ensure that these children received redress. Instead, IFC colluded with Bridge to delay the CAO investigation and cover up the allegations of abuse, lest these “spook” new investors.

Now, IFC is dismissing CAO’s recommendation that the MAP include financial compensation for the Bridge survivors on a no-fault basis. Instead, IFC proposes a non-targeted “collective response” to support programs for any survivor of child sexual abuse in Kenya–– a development project that IFC has no demonstrated expertise to implement. IFC claims that this response, of undefined scope and cost, is consistent with “global good practice.” It isn’t. While the goal of supporting child abuse service providers in Kenya is laudable, it is not responsive to the specific harms the CAO unearthed. IFC’s MAP fails to do the one thing that is required of it: provide remedy to the Bridge survivors.

In January, eleven World Bank Group Executive Directors, representing 103 countries and over half the total shareholding of the IFC, issued a joint statement recognizing the obvious shortcomings of IFC’s proposed MAP. The joint statement said that IFC should not exclude any form of financial support or compensation suggested by CAO until IFC engaged in additional consultations, including with the Bridge survivors. This was the right position and we applaud the Executive Directors for sending the MAP for revision.

However, IFC didn’t listen to the Executive Directors and in an updated MAP, refuses to acknowledge that it would consider providing financial support or compensation for harm to sexual abuse victims if proper consultations reveal this to be an appropriate remedy. Instead, IFC remains focused on increasing access to a yet-to-be-decided service program by paying for transportation or other costs stemming from accessing care. There is no guarantee that any Bridge survivors will benefit at all from the proposed program.

So here is what we have: a MAP developed in Washington, without consultation, without a budget, and which is not tailored to the needs of the Bridge survivors. That is not global good practice. It is a global embarrassment that signals the moral bankruptcy of the IFC’s leadership. We ask Executive Directors to not waver on their January position. The option of meaningful financial support for the Bridge survivors must remain on the table pending consultations with them.

Further, we urge Executive Directors not to approve this MAP on an absence of objection basis. Every MAP in response to a CAO investigation – and especially a case involving impacts of this gravity – should be the subject of a formal Board discussion and, if the conditions of your January statement are not met, as is currently the case, we ask that you oppose the MAP.

You can find a downloadable version of this press release as PDF here.

Joint statement by Accountability Counsel, Inclusive Development International,  Gender Action and Urgewald.


    Bild Anprechpartner   Dr. Dustin Schäfer

    Dr. Dustin Schäfer
    Campaigns on Multilateral Development Financial Institutions, Focus: Accountability and Transparency
    dustin [at] urgewald.org

    Bild Anprechpartner   Dr. Ognyan Seizov

    Dr. Ognyan Seizov
    International Communications Director
    ognyan.seizov [at] urgewald.org
    +49 (0)30 863 2922-61

→  Unser Team