An efficient and competent water service for 240 000 Beninese

Initiative Développement is professionalizing the local players who manage the public water services to ensure their permanence in the communes of Allada, Toffo and Ze in southern Benin.

Humanitarian and Development

Communes of Allada, Toffo and Ze, Benin

Christian Morel-Maréchal

22 000 € to the Selection Committee at 2012/06/05

Project leader

Initiative Développement

"I have gone to Chad several times for similar projects to the one proposed by Initiative Développement, whose actions I find particularly effective in this part of Africa. As a retiree of Veolia Water, I plan to intensify my involvement with ID and to offer my experience in drinking water supply and distribution techniques."

Christian Morel-Maréchal

An international outreach non-governmental organization, Initiative Développement has been counseling the disadvantaged communities of the countries of the South since 1994, by fostering the emergence and professionalization of local players in development. The nonprofit has already worked in Benin, but also in Haiti, the Comoros, Ghana, China, Togo and Chad. In 2009, it won a prize from the Austrian foundation Energy Globe, one of the most prestigious environment-related international prizes, for its drinking water access program in China. Initiative Développement has also been rewarded for its program to improve the quality of teaching in northwest Haiti by the Supreme Council for International Cooperation.

Training the operators and creating an outside monitoring service

Under European funding (Facilite Eau), the nonprofit has been active for four years in the communes of Allada, Toffo and Ze (South Atlantic District of Benin) to structure the communal contractorship and organize the public water service. Having recently received the management assignment, the current operators (consulting engineers, local entrepreneurs, leading businessmen) have little experience in this activity and are not qualified to run it effectively. This lack of experience threatens the permanence of the service, and it is important to train the operators while creating an outside technical and financial monitoring service for the village water supplies in a rural area (the Stefi, which exists in Mali, Chad and Niger). This Stefi requires training personnel, providing them with appropriate tools and counseling their organization, so that they can benefit from the experience of the neighboring countries. Besides, the mayors are keen to assume responsibility for the "water" skills, but need counseling to fully perform their contractorship role.

Improving the network to extend it to other populations

All these guidelines have to rely on dependable and efficient infrastructures. In fact, most of the networks do not have all the elements they need for quality operation (lack of drains, meters, etc.). And some localities are still not served, but this could be remedied by extensions to existing networks, which would also enhance their economic viability. The project therefore provides for infrastructure building with network extensions for the best managed ones. A total of 240 000 persons will find their water service reinforced and improved in the three communes.

The project, which has a major infrastructure component, is also designed to set up and reinforce the network of persons involved in the future water service management: professional operators, competent mayors in sector planning, and users aware of the improvement achieved. It is in this sense emblematic of the projects in which the Veolia Foundation likes to invest and therefore benefits both from financing and the volunteering of skills. The experience is particularly enriching for the Village Water Supply (Adduction d'eau villageoise AEV) of neighboring Bohicon, where the Foundation has already been involved.