Local project ownership and capacity building of local actors

When implementing a drinking water, sanitation or agricultural water programme, Protos proceeds according to the principles of ‘local project ownership’.

Consultation in Tenenkou (Mali) © Protos

Rather than transferring management responsibilities only at the completion of a project, Protos choses to empower the future owner right from the start. As owner of the water infrastructure he decides on its planning, the forms of investment and financing, the hiring of an engineering agency or contractor and its overall management. The owner needs to direct the whole process and Protos will assist him in this.

Actual ownership depends on politics and context. Practically speaking, it is the municipalities, farmer organisations, drinking water or irrigation committees that take up this responsibility, allowing them to gradually acquire all necessary skills to manage the infrastructure independently. While the infrastructure is the most visible aspect of a project, ownership also implies outlining strategies and policies and developing adequate management and maintenance structures. This ‘software’ is less tangible but all the more important to ensure the infrastructure’s - the ‘hardware’s’- durability.

A process of decentralisation has recently started in many developing countries: national law stipulates that local authorities - i.e. the municipalities – will gradually need to take responsibility for managing the investments in local roads, schools, and water and irrigation systems. Assigning them this task is logical: they are the first to profit from adequate facilities and they understand the needs and possibilities of their region. However, many of these local authorities have as yet little or no experience with this type of task. Our mission at Protos is to assist them in accomplishing this task.

However, this capacity building must not be limited to local authorities. Protos and its partners provide assistance to all parties involved in reliable water management, including municipalities, drinking water committees, farmer organisations, local ngo’s, decentralised state services, local private enterprise etc… Capacity building is accomplished through training, counselling, intellectual  exchange… Sustainable, long-term management is the key objective.

Simultaneously, Protos and its partners focus on awareness-raising and education of the individual water consumer regarding the importance of drinking water, personal hygiene, health, agricultural techniques, environment… Women take a leading role in this process as they are generally responsible for their family’s care, health and water supply. We ensure they are included in consultation processes and governing bodies from which they can draw the necessary energy and confidence to strengthen their position in society.

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