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Drinking Water and Beyond: Financing Projects through Cooperation

A Case of Successful Cooperation: Besancon, see France and Douroula, Burkina Faso

Besançon, a French city with a population of approximately 120,000 and a member of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty, has been cooperating, since 1987, with the canton of Douroula in Burkina Faso. This began as i) a national programme of aid focused on the provision of safe drinking water until 1995 and became ii) a broader, long-term partnership between the people of Besançon and the people of Douroula.

  1. Provision of safe drinking water: The objective of the programme was to provide the residents of Douroula with the necessary resources to solve their water-supply problems.To involve its citizens directly in the cooperation programme, the Municipal Council of Besançon decided to levy an additional 2 centimes (less than 0,01 US$) per cubic meter of water consumed from each household. It was therefore the private users of water who were contributing to the programme. As of January 1988, clear explanations were printed on the water bills so each resident was able to know the exact amount of his or her contribution.Until 1995, the responsibility of managing the fund was in the hands of associations working with partners from the Douroula region.16 bore-holes have been drilled. They have been in operation since 1992 and provide an average 20 litres of water per day per person to the 120 000 inhabitants of the canton of Douroula. Bore-holes with pumps were chosen as a more hygienic, less environmentally damaging solution than other types of wells. The labour for the construction of these bore-holes was provided by the people of Douroula.Having greatly improved the supply of safe water in Douroula, this experience was extended, in 1995, to cooperation in other areas.
  2. Broader cooperation: In 1995, a joint decision was taken to set up a development fund destined to local investments. Additional financing solutions were found to enlarge this fund. Assistance from the French development cooperation ministry and a contribution from the Swiss town of Neuchâtel, Besançon’s “twin” city, which is also a member of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty, were added to the 150,000 French francs (25 000 US$) of Besançon’s annual contribution.This fund now finances economic development projects that are not exclusively linked to water, and in particular focused on revitalising agricultural production, improving the living and working conditions of women, and literacy, and aimed at benefiting all social and professional groups, in particular women, young people and the nomads who are semi-resident in the region. The French volunteer organisation Association Française des Volontaires du Progrès (AFPV) as been given the responsibility to manage these new activities. This organisation covers the cost of sending a volunteer to establish new programmes in collaboration with the twinning committee of Douroula.This broadening of the cooperation was accompanied by the signature of a “Convention of Objectives”. This procedure, because it officializes the commitments of both partners allows for the uncertainty that recipients of external aid often face to be avoided. Instead, the people of the canton of Douroula can count on a long-term cooperation with those of Besançon towards jointly-defined objectives.
  3. Positive results: This experience demonstrates that cities’ willingness to pool their efforts to achieve social development and the eradication of poverty can lead to an exchange of knowledge and expertise and a new awareness by ordinary citizens of the value of cooperation. It illustrates that seeking original partnerships between different actors of civil society and non-conventional sources of financing can lead to valuable contributions to the fight against poverty in the world.Not only has this experience provided a solution to the serious water-supply problem facing the inhabitants of the canton of Douroula, it has also generated sense of commitment and a new awareness among the residents of Besançon of the links, even indirect, between the plentiful use of the world’s resources by one half of the population and the difficulties of supply facing the other half. Finally, this initiative can easily be reproduced by other cities and can be applied to many other energy sources.

We would like to thank the Municipality of Besançon for providing us the information about this initiative.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Jean-Michel Ligier
Director of the Besançon’s Mayor Office
2 rue Mégevand
25034 Besançon Cedex,
FRANCE.
phone: 33 3 81 61 50 50, fax: 33 3 81 61 50 99,
e-mail: jean-michel.ligier@besancon.com