Tenkodogo Holds Burkina Faso’s First-Ever Municipal Forum
In January, the city of Tenkodogo hosted its first Municipal Urban Forum. Organised as part of the Cities Alliance Burkina Faso Country Programme, it was the first such forum in the country and a major milestone for the city and for the national government’s efforts to create a more inclusive approach to urban development.
It was clear that the event generated considerable excitement and interest in the country, which is undergoing a political transition and is gradually opening up government action to public debate. Some 200 participants from the national government, local authorities and civil society organisations attended the Forum, held 15-16 January 2015 in Tenkodogo, to discuss citizen involvement and how to build inclusive cities.
The national government had a particularly strong presence, with Minister of Housing and Urban Development Mr. Bessolé René Bagoro attending the Forum along with Mr. Salifou Dembele, Minister of Youth, Vocational Training and Employment.
“With the recent political transition in Burkina Faso, holding the Municipal Urban Forum in Tenkodogo was a real challenge for the Ministry and its partners,” noted Serge Allou, Cities Alliance Lead Urban Specialist.
“It is also a very good example of the kinds of processes of dialogue that should be opened in the country – involving the inputs of all relevant actors in the public debate – and that will be key to the success of the transition period,” M. Allou noted.
Creating space for a public debate on urban issues
At the Forum, national government representatives presented the recently finalised Tenkodogo Urban Master Plan and the priorities identified for city development to the public – the first time it has done so in a public forum. They also introduced the national Local Government Development Fund, which provides funding for local infrastructure and development priorities.
|“The Tenkodogo Forum is a very good example of the kind of dialogue that should be opened in the country, and that will be key to the success of its political transition.”
--Serge Allou, Cities Alliance Lead Urban Specialist
A series of workshops also provided space for lively discussions among participants on key issues for city development. These included strategies for mobilising financial resources in support of local urban development, access to basic services in the city’s underequipped neighbourhoods, and the contribution of civil society organisations to municipal governance. National representatives presented global analysis and priorities, while local stakeholders shared their expectations, constraints and priorities.
One of the key issues discussed was how to cope with Tenkodogo’s pressing development needs. The city is growing fast, and is expected to increase from 50,000 to 130,000 inhabitants by 2030. According to the city’s Urban Master Plan, an average of USD 8.5 million per year in capital investments is needed for the city to meet its development challenges – a significant increase over the USD 35,000 currently invested annually through the Local Government Development Fund.
Participants debated how to approach these challenges, and identified strategic participatory planning, strengthening of municipal finance and multi-stakeholder partnerships as key conditions to help achieve these goals.
All parties clearly relished the opportunity for discussion in Tenkodogo, and it was an excellent start for a community and country that is seeking to involve citizens more in urban planning and help build capacity among local authorities to cope with decentralisation reforms.
As the first such forum, it was by necessity driven by national representatives, with local stakeholders reacting to the issues raised. The goal for future forums will be to include balanced panels with more presentations on local priorities, with national representatives having the opportunity to respond.
Along with the UN-Habitat country team and Africa Regional Office representative, who are playing a major role in supporting the implementation of the Programme, the Cities Alliance was represented at the event by Dr. Allou and the Chief of Cooperation at the French Embassy in Ouagadougou, Franck Humbert.
The next Municipal Urban Forums will be held in Dori and Dédougou in the coming months. Both cities are also participating in the Cities Alliance Burkina Faso Country Programme.