Performance - improvements and remaining challenges

Overall, the environmental and social performance improved in 2016. However, progress is uneven between projects, and this appears to be largely related to variation in the level of internal environmental and social capacity with the developers as well as the degree to which the environmental and social standards are firmly embedded in developers’ strategies and seen as a priority at senior management level. During GET FiT, some developers have made impressive improvements in their capacity to manage a range of environmental and social issues. As a consequence of GET FiT, there is now a considerably higher degree of compliance with Ugandan and international standards than would otherwise have been observed. 

Prior to GET FiT, most developers had not gone through full project cycles from project development to operation following international performance standards. Moving from planning to construction, developers now experience new challenges in practical implementation of environmental and social measures, including ensuring contractors understand and adhere to the developers’ management plans and standards. Continuous improvements are required. GET FiT believes that once developers have gone through the steps from project development to operation, they will have improved planning and implementation capacities considerably. 

Unfortunately, 2016 saw the first fatality reported among construction workers for a GET FiT supported project in a traffic related accident. The developer and contractor in question are working to support the family who lost the husband and father. During a supervision visit in 2016, GET FiT noted systematic weaknesses and unacceptable safety measures on this construction site. GET FiT therefore requested that certain high risk construction activities were suspended until appropriate safety measures were put in place, despite the critical nature of these activities for the project construction timeline. GET FiT further requested an independent audit of the Contractor’s site practices to verify that improvements had been implemented. Following this audit, an unannounced inspection was carried out by GET FiT to check that improvements continued to be implemented. We were content to note that this inspection showed great improvements. 

The GET FiT Investment Committee defined more than 50 environmental and social conditions precedent (CPs) across the three RfPs. This large number of CPs reflects the overall low environmental and social capability of project developers and their consultants, particularly gaps in environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs), resettlement action plan (RAPs), environmental and social management or action plans (ESMPs or ESAPs) and livelihood restoration plans (LRPs). Fourteen CPs across seven projects were cleared in 2016. Cumulatively, about 70 % of the environmental and social CPs have now been cleared. Four projects still need to clear CPs prior to construction start. 

Based on environmental and social grounds, one approved project had its support revoked by the GET FiT Steering Committee in 2015. No support was revoked in 2016. There are, however, projects that need to improve their environmental and social performance to achieve COD in compliance with standards and hence be approved for the first disbursement of the GET FiT premium payment.