The French Water Partnership (FWP) took part in the 6th Africities Summit held in Dakar from 4 to 8 December. This Summit focused on the construction of Africa starting with its regions and local authorities. 5,000 representatives from the public and private sectors, including nearly 3,000 mayors and local elected officials, were in attendance.
The FWP’s participation was an opportunity to learn about the latest changes affecting this great continent in order to define partnerships between French and African water stakeholders to meet the remaining challenges.
The major objective in this sector concerns access to water and sanitation for all Africans.
In Africa today, the objective set by the international community in 2000 for water in 2015 – reduce the number of people without access to water of improved quality in half – will be hard to meet. The objective set for sanitation – reduce the number of people without access to sanitation in half – has no chance of being met.
This situation explains why water is the leading cause of death on the African continent.
Two mechanisms are at the heart of the debates for meeting these objectives:
- Decentralising skills and means and finding a fair balance between the responsibilities of governments and those of local authorities.
Many studies presented at Africities showed that the countries that have made the most progress on the road to decentralisation have moved forward faster than the others toward meeting the development objectives set by the international community. Various initiatives were taken at this Summitfor local authorities in Africa to get organised to put greater pressure on their governments (“decentralisation has to be deserved”).
- Implementing financial mechanisms for solidarity between rich and poor populations in developing countries and between developed and developing countries.
Several examples were given in presentations, such as Greater Dakar and Niger, which plan to set up such mechanisms as a priority to speed up access to sanitation for their disadvantaged populations.
The experience of French stakeholders in favour of such mechanisms will soon comprise the basis for their collective relations with African stakeholders through the FWP:
- responsibilities for public water and sanitation services acquired by French local authorities as part of the decentralisation policy carried out in our country, monitoring the effectiveness of these services and relations with users;
- decentralised cooperation between authorities and water agencies in France and abroad (Thiollière Law and Oudin-Santini Law), domestic solidarity in France (Cambon Law).
On this basis, the Chairman of the FWP, Henri Bégorre, Vice-President of Grand Nancy and Mayor of Maxéville, will take part in the meeting of African Water Ministers to be held inDakarfrom 12 to 14 December. He will notably meet withNiger’s Minister of Hydraulics and the Environment and with elected officials from Dakar.