In Bangangté (Cameroon): developing efficient water and sanitation services to preserve water resources (3 November, 2015)

Natural resources, including water, are the first to be affected by climate change. Combating climate change involves, for example, setting up efficient water and sanitation services, for good water management is closely linked to good climate management.

The main aim of the programme implemented in Bangangté is to improve the local public services provided to the community by local governments. It is crucial that the local people take ownership of the issues relating to this resource that is dwindling due to climate change.

The programme is accompanied by a sector-specific policy in the field of water and sanitation which is designed to be open to local initiatives. More efficient water management is also, more broadly, a condition for food security.
Water is at the heart of human issues.

SIAAP: interdepartmental authority for sanitation in Paris and its suburbs (Syndicat interdépartemental pour l’Assainissement de l’Agglomération parisienne)

AESN: Seine Normandy water board (Agence de l’eau Seine Normandie)

AIMF: International Association of Francophone Mayors

The programme

Sustainable project management in the water and sanitation sectors in the commune of Bangangté (MODEAB)

Where ?

In the commune of Bangangté, located in the West region, capital of Ndé department. The commune has an area of 800km2.

How many people will benefit ?

An estimated 200,000

Who are the actors involved ?

Project manager (i.e. the entity expressing the need, defining the purpose of the project and setting its time frame and budget): the commune of Bangangté
Assistant project manager and financial partner: AIMF
Technical and financial partners: Veolia Foundation, SIAAP and AESN
Citizen participation: the NGO Environnement Recherche Action (ERA)-Cameroun

When was this partnership set up ?


Background and challenges

This decentralized cooperation project is also supported by the decentralization process begun in 2004 by the Cameroonian government, with the main aim of improving the local public services provided to communities by the decentralized local governments. It is accompanied by a sector-specific policy in the field of water and sanitation which is designed to be open to local initiatives.

But the communes lack the qualified staff and equipment needed to take on these new roles. Effective organization and new organizational tools for all public services in communes are developments that should be encouraged as a priority.

Improving public services in the field of water and sanitation is an absolute priority in Cameroon: 44% of the population has access to drinking water and 34% to sanitation. Large-scale programmes to finance infrastructure were launched in the 1980s, but much of this infrastructure is now out of service for it has not been properly maintained.

French local governments can take action to combat climate change by proposing to their partner local authorities climate-related projects to improve mitigation and adaptation in the water sector, such as adaptation plans, efficient water and sanitation services, knowledge-sharing and research programmes.

What are the objectives ?

Strengthening project management in communes

  • Building the project management capacities of the commune’s technical services
  • Offering the commune organizational support in order to develop sustainable project management
  • Offering the commune support and tools to improve its administrative and financial management

Developing infrastructure and its use

  • Improving people’s access to drinking water
  • Improving people’s access to sanitation
  • Raising people’s awareness of hygiene regulations and best practices when using and managing the infrastructure.
  • Promoting local, participative and sustainable management of the services: decentralized cooperation seeks to expand the role played by local governments in water and sanitation management.

What solutions have been provided ?

Water: Seven drinking water distribution systems have been restored. Detailed studies were carried out beforehand to increase the amount of information available to the municipal technical services on the water resources and the state of the facilities.

  • Eleven boreholes/water collection systems
  • Ten treatment plants: filtration and chlorination without electricity
  • Seven gravity distribution systems
  • Standpipes and household connections

Sanitation: Fifteen blocks of environmental toilets have been built in schools and marketplaces in the commune to prevent water-borne diseases and reduce the deterioration in water quality. In parallel to this, initiatives to raise public awareness of hygiene were carried out, ensuring the proper use and maintenance of the toilets.

  • Six cubicles per block: three urinals and three toilets.
  • The urine is collected separately, stored for at least one month for hygienization, then used as agricultural fertilizer.
  • Two pits for faeces: one in use and the other storing waste that is being composted.

Infrastructure management:

For the water component, a public water and sanitation service for the commune of Bangangté was set up. It is now operational: three local officials have been specially trained for these tasks.

For the sanitation component, additional actors ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure:

  • There are environmental education committees in primary schools, made up of pupils aged 10-12, supervised by teachers. They are responsible for regular maintenance of the toilets and fertilize the fields with the hygienized urine. The expendables are paid for by the parents’ association.
  • Those who manage the markets are responsible for managing the toilets there. They collect the money, maintain the toilets and stock them with expendables (water and soap for hand-washing). 50 CFA francs (€0.076) for the toilets, 25 CFA francs (€0.038) for the urinals.

How does this programme protect the environment and contribute to sustainable development ?

The new public water service in Bangangté has a three-part structure that is the first of its kind in Cameroon. In each village, the commune delegates responsibility for the service (continuity, quality, pricing, etc.) to a water users committee, which contracts out the operation of the distribution system to a small private operator, while a third entity, the communal water authority, advises and supervises the other two in their rights and responsibilities.

Several financial mechanisms have been established in this innovative system to ensure the sustainability of the service.

The toilets were built in stages to ensure that the programme could be replicated. First, three blocks of toilets were built, in order to train local entrepreneurs (builders and plumbers), who were supervised by experts from ERA-Cameroun. The best craftspeople from this pilot phase then built the other twelve toilets, which were all equipped with a rainwater harvesting system.

An innovative technology was installed to transform the urine and faeces in these environmental toilets into natural fertilizer, which is distributed to farmers in the commune, in a local, systemic approach to water and agriculture issues. This technique of recovering urine for its agronomic value offers an alternative to using chemical fertilizers.

The main advantages of the programme

Sanitation is a priority in development policies, which are intrinsically linked to climate change policies, as Minister of State for Development and Francophonie has frequently reiterated. A total of 2.5 billion people currently have no access to basic sanitation (source WHO-UNICEF, 2014).

The involvement of elected officials and local people:
The context of decentralization in Cameroon fosters the involvement of local actors and the development of cooperation projects, especially in communes where elected officials and local people show real motivation, which is crucial if the programme is to be effective and viable in the long term.

The strategic choice to support the commune in its project management role:
This enables the commune to fully assume its role of managing public services. It equips itself with effective tools and needs to acquire certain skills in order to use them. Other tools that are appropriate to the local context need to be invented, with the help of the technical and financial partners.

The selection of partners:
Complementary partners who ensure the continuity of the project and the effectiveness of the action taken on the ground.

An effective, recognized and replicable approach:
This programme was awarded a 2014 United Nations Public Service Award and the 2012 FEICOM national prize for best local development practices.

What are the outcomes so far?

  • An operational public water and sanitation service.
  • Municipal technical services trained to manage large-scale projects.
  • Improved administrative and financial management practices in the municipal general services.
  • Sustainable, continuous use of the infrastructure and greater responsibility taken for the facilities by the local people.
  • Reduced spread of waterborne diseases in the commune.
  • Greater public awareness of water and sanitation issues in a region that suffers from water stress.
Image Diaporama - In each primary school, an environmental (...)

In each primary school, an environmental education committee is set up. The older children teach the younger ones how to look after the toilets. Photo: SIAAP

Image Diaporama - In order for the environmental toilets to (...)

In order for the environmental toilets to last, a strict management system is needed. Photo: SIAAP

Image Diaporama - The partners building a reservoir in Bachingou.

The partners building a reservoir in Bachingou. Photo: AIMF

Image Diaporama - The partners discussing geophysical studies (...)

The partners discussing geophysical studies in Badenkop. Photo: AIMF

Image Diaporama - Urine is used as fertilizer on the fields. (...)

Urine is used as fertilizer on the fields. Photo: SIAAP

  • SIAAP website (in French)
  • AIMF website (in French)
  • Veolia Foundation website (in French)
  • AESN website (in French)
  • Programme Solidarité Eau website (in French)
  • A closer look at the Oudin-Santini act (in French), which, since 2005, has authorized local governments, water and sanitation authorities and water boards to allocate up to 1% of the revenue of water and sanitation services to international solidarity initiatives in this sector.