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Published on 10/12/2018

Action-research for rural water reform

Since 2014, reform of the rural water sub-sector in Senegal has been progressing significantly with the creation of the Rural drilling office (Ofor), the objective of which is to make the rural drinking water sector more efficient and more professional. Management of rural drinking water networks in Senegal is now ensured by private operators with deputation from the public drinking water service via lease contracts. However, the strategic framework for reform has not responded to all issues – in particular regarding the protection of users’ rights – which will require a period of transition and innovation.

It is with a view to this that GRET and Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis (in French), together with the Regional development agency (ARD) (in French) and the Regional union of drinking water users in the region of Saint-Louis are implementing a project named Sense (Joint monitoring of public drinking water services in the North). This project aims to contribute to the development, implementation and monitoring of inclusive policies for public water services in rural areas by supporting key stakeholders (State, private operators, users, regional and local authorities), to create a multi-stakeholder dialogue and promote new forms of regulation between the State and civil society.

Three initial studies were conducted to inform reflections on this subject. They focus on public perception of drinking water by users, systems for representing users and the situation in terms of multi-stakeholder dialogue. These studies were the subject of other presentations and exchanges in the Gorom-Lampsar area and the regions of Dagana and Podor. Strong recommendations were drawn up on what type of user representation systems should be promoted and on the organisation of territorial dialogue on public water services.

A regional workshop, organised on 15 November last at Gaston Berger University, provided an opportunity to present the results of these studies to all stakeholders involved in rural water management in Senegal and to make progress on the definition of models regarding user representation and framework for dialogue.

This action-research, which began in 2017, is part of the support programme for civil society initiatives (PAISC) funded by the European development fund via the national authorising officer of Senegal (ONS). It is being carried out by GRET, UGB, ARD in Saint-Louis and the Gorom-Lampsar Federation of drinking water service users’ associations (Fasurep) for a period of 24 months.