In the Bougouni region of Mali, Helvetas is building the capacity of municipalities to provide a decent public water and sanitation system. The project also helps people to claim their rights and adopt good hygiene practices.
Beyond drinking water
Mali has made access to clean water and sanitation a cornerstone of its fight against poverty. Municipalities are responsible for providing these services, but local authorities have neither the human and financial capacity nor the necessary experience to implement and manage water and sanitation infrastructure.
In the southern region of Bougouni, Helvetas is playing a major role in helping Mali to achieve its ambitious targets. Over half a million people here have no option but to drink water from traditional wells or faraway ponds, which carries a risk of disease or even death. Illness from drinking contaminated water can keep children from attending school regularly, but it can also prevent adults from earning an income.
Our JIKURA project (the word means «new water» in Bambara) works with municipalities to develop their capacity to provide effective water and sanitation services. It funds some of the local authorities most in need, who decide on a participatory basis which infrastructure and activities are most urgent and how they will be built and run.
Each partner municipality involved in the project consults local residents to set its intervention priorities and then draws up an action plan which may for example include the installation of a solar water pump or building latrines in schools. A steering committee led by local authorities distributes the available budget between the partner municipalities so that each can implement its action plan.
This original and innovative approach puts local actors firmly in control, giving them an opportunity to decide on their own development. Water and sanitation services generate income that is reinvested to ensure their sustainability and autonomy, and the municipalities incorporate funding for water and sanitation management in their budgets. The scale of the project reflects the available funding, but the assistance provided to each municipality is time-limited.
The project also works with communities and schools to encourage families and pupils to adopt good hygiene and sanitation practices such as washing their hands with soap, purifying drinking water and using latrines.
Mamou Sangaré, housewife and owner of a small business.