Water Directorate of Grand Lyon has been committed to international solidarity since 2005. It provides support for international water and sanitation actions in two ways: by implementing decentralised cooperation actions (institutional and technical support) in favour of local authorities in developing countries and by financing projects through the “Solidarity and Sustainable Development Fund for Water”.
Angela LANTERI, Grand Lyon Water Department
International solidarity, local authorities, capacity building, financing access to water and sanitation, public-private partnership
Water Directorate of Grand Lyon has been committed to international solidarity since 2005. It provides support for international water and sanitation actions in two ways: by implementing decentralised cooperation actions (institutional and technical support) in favour of local authorities in developing countries and by financing projects through the “Solidarity and Sustainable Development Fund for Water”. Within the context of the Oudin Law, Grand Lyon can mobilise up to €600 000 per year for international solidarity actions, in other words 0.4% of water and sanitation revenues.
Decentralised cooperation actions with Madagascar have been developed since 2006, with a project supported by the European Union and the Rhone Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency (AERMC). After having supported six local authorities to carry out a water and sanitation project, the programme is now working with 12 local authorities in the following fields:
- Water resource management planning,
- Development of access to water and sanitation
- Strengthening infrastructure management
- Training and support of sector stakeholders
The “Water Fund” is a mechanism that is supplemented by Grand Lyon, AERMC, Veolia and La Lyonnaise des Eaux. The total amount available is €1 050 000 per year. The fund is used to support infrastructure construction projects. The project promoters submit a request for funding that is examined by the Grand Lyon and the utilities. An assessment is given by the technical committee and the final decision is made by the steering committee, made up of elected officials and the directors of the partner organisations. Since its creation in 2004, the number of actions supported by the fund has increased steadily rising from 2 projects accepted per year to almost 20. In all, 100 projects have been supported by the fund, enabling more than 1 million people to gain access to water and sanitation.
The decentralised cooperation actions are implemented in the Haute-Matsiatra region in Madagascar.
The “Water Fund” supports projects in 17 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Palestinian Territories, Togo, and Vietnam. The countries that have benefitted most from the programme are: Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Morocco.
1. Decentralised cooperation Grand-Lyon Haute-Matsiatra Grand Lyon is the lead partner, with the Haute-Matsiatra Region co-managing, 6 pilot local authorities received service management support and financing for water and sanitation projects. The Government technical departments provided technical support to the local authorities.
2. Water Fund The Water Fund was created at the initiative of Grand Lyon and Veolia Eau.
Rhone Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency and la Lyonnaise des Eaux also contribute.
It supports actions mainly carried out by NGOs. It ensures the projects involve the local authorities in line with local legislation.
The fund members (Grand Lyon and the utilities) are responsible for monitoring and evaluation, validating progress reports and for the larger projects carrying out monitoring visits in the field.
The projects and approaches implemented respond to the following key problems faced by the local authorities responsible for water and sanitation services:
- Lack of capacities,
- Difficult access to financing to make the necessary investments.
In regard to the first problem, the know-how of the Water Directorate (40 years of experience) provides a response to the local authorities in developing countries need for training. In the context of its cooperation with Madagascar, 4 agents from the Water Directorate and a full-time representative in Madagascar are assigned to capacity building.
In regard to the second problem, the public-private partnership generates significant funding for improving access to water and sanitation. The fund is open for funding requests year-round (4 commissions per year), and the amount per project ranges from €10 000 to €100 000. This financing mechanism is thus accessible for small stakeholders but is also pertinent for larger NGOs.
The cooperation project in Madagascar made it possible to develop access to water and sanitation for 10 000 people. Training increased the capacities of 6 local authorities (60 people) and 6 water service management structures (200 people). Half the population of the local authorities received information on water, hygiene and health and some were supported to build household latrines (around 100). The approach enabled the Haute-Matsiatra Region and the Government Technical departments of Madagascar to fully assume their role in supporting water projects, beyond the collaboration with Grand Lyon.
Projects supported by the Water Fund are examined to ensure they will be sustainable, factors such as future service costs, price setting, maintenance training, local ownership, awareness raising are taken into account.
In the context of the cooperation in Madagascar, the projects implemented were monitored on the basis of the following indicators: public tendering process managed by the local authority, infrastructure quality, meeting of construction deadlines, protection of water sources. Now the management of the infrastructure will be measured according to the rate of bill payment, clear distribution of roles and responsibilities between local authorities and operators, maintenance of the network.
For the Water Fund, the projects funded are evaluated according to the following indicators:
- pertinence of the project in light of the local context,
- capacity of the project promoter
- local ownership of the project
- training and actual maintenance of infrastructure
- impact in terms of public health
Funding provided by the Water Fund is usually disbursed in line with project progress.
The Grand Lyon’s experience in decentralised cooperation in Madagascar could interest other French or European local authorities interested in developing cooperation actions there. Grand Lyon could share elements of its methodology, particularly with regard to:
- Working with and not in place of local partners
- The role of international solidarity within a local authority in the North
- The tools and ways of steering an international project
- Which financial circuits need to be set up to ensure local ownership but also sound controls
- How to create leverage for development in the partner country (mobilisation of all stakeholders: companies, consultancy firms, universities)
- How to find co-funding
Grand Lyon has also developed specific expertise in water issues at an international level which could interest both local authorities and NGOs, particularly on the following subjects:
- Knowledge and protection of water resources,
- Planning and management of conflicting uses
- Training and support of local management of water services
- Design and monitoring of a gravitational water supply system
Grand Lyon’s experience with the Water Fund is also liable to interest other local authorities to raise funds for international solidarity.
The way dossiers are reviewed, monitoring and evaluation tools (review sheet, monitoring sheets, report templates) and financial flow systems can be shared with any institution wishing to finance solidarity projects for water and sanitation.
The specific details of the public-private partnerships set up and the financial structure could interest in particular local authorities that have delegated their public water service.
Key lessons from decentralised cooperation actions:
- Find management systems that enable each partner from the North and the South to express their expectations and constraints and readjust regularly
- Combine infrastructure component with support and training
- Take different timescales into account: short term – water needs and long term – resource protection
- Take different geographical scales into account (very local and regional) to ensure sustainability over time
- Support infrastructure project managers (local authorities) to take responsibility by giving them both a technical and financial management role
- Involve and raise awareness of beneficiaries, future users of the service,
- Take time (at least three years) to ensure an impact
- Use local human and material resources as much as possible
- Do not try to transfer European models, but use know-how to seek local solutions
- Mobilise local politicians and make regular progress reports using clear indicators
- Be aware of the other actions underway in the water sector in the country to seek synergies, ensure consistency and share tools.
The minimum required to undertake cooperation actions is difficult to specify, the following can be highlighted :
- Shared political commitment
- Part-time person appointed in each country
- Small budget to start actions (€10 000-€20 000)
- Regular communication with the partner in the South and see each other at least once per year
The main factors of success are:
- Act as a supporting partner, not a direct actor: teach other to do (establish contracts, monitor works, manage etc.) rather than take control of these actions directly
- Give training in the future maintenance and management of the infrastructure constructed (technical training, accounting skills, organisational structure etc.).
- Raise awareness on public health and hygiene issues (importance of safe water for health, appropriate hygiene practices etc.)
Our experience as a partner in decentralised cooperation projects helps us to better assess the requests for funding submitted to the Water Fund. Some aspects to which we pay careful attention in our cooperation projects are also considered in assessing the dossiers:
- How the NGO collaborates with the local authorities (support and transfer)
- Anticipation of future management requirements
- Awareness raising and mobilisation of local communities
- Terms and conditions for steering and monitoring
It is worth highlighting that to accompany NGOs before they submit their request to the Water Fund, the Grand Lyon set up a partnership with pS-Eau (a network NGO of French and international water and sanitation sector stakeholders). Through this approach, Grand Lyon and pS-Eau contribute to improving the international development actions taken by stakeholders.
While there is no standard model, Grand Lyon’s long experience in showing its solidarity for water in developing countries makes it an example which could inspire other French local authorities. The main stakeholders in the Oudin Law regularly share experiences and discuss their methodologies and projects underway (local authorities and water agencies).
Grand Lyon is in contact with other projects being carried out in Madagascar (European ACORS projects, NGOs et.) and participates in national symposiums to share experiences. Some tools developed by Grand Lyon are inspired by other projects (awareness raising tools, service cost simulation tools etc.), others are designed for the project (mapping tools, brief pre-project production tools etc.) and are made available to others. It should be noted that Grand Lyon has documented three training modules implemented in Madagascar on public contracting, worksite monitoring and management systems.
Grand Lyon Direction de l’eau Angela LANTERI firstname.lastname@example.org