Small infrastructure projects can make a big difference. In Dedougou, Burkina Faso, a community mobilised to build a market that will become a source of income for residents. During the process, the community established a partnership with the municipality that endures. The project was part of the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Burkina Faso.
By Honey Mehta, Cities Alliance Communications Team
[28 February 2018] -- In a small town in Burkina Faso, a community built a market to promote their local economic development. It is a simple market where locals can sell their produce. Yet, this simple, single-roof market will make entrepreneurs out of women and will become a means of livelihood for the locals. More than anything else this market brings pride to the locals of Madagascar, a neighbourhood in the parched secondary city of Dedougou. It’s their baby.
The market was built as part of the Cities Alliance Country Programme in Burkina Faso. In addition to small community-driven priority infrastructure projects such as the market in Dedougou, the Country Programme promoted mechanisms for participation, strengthening the capacities of local governments, and mobilising communities as well as the civil society.
The Cities Alliance Country programme was implemented by the Government of Burkina Faso in partnership with UN-Habitat at the national level, the Association of Municipalities of Burkina Faso (AMBF) at the municipal level, and Laboratoire Citoyennetés at the community level. It ended in 2017.
A Cities Alliance team visited the country in November/December 2017 to coordinate with programme partners and the communities. The team met with the Steering Committee of partners that oversaw the programme to evaluate the on-ground projects, which were well received by all stakeholders. They visited the site of several of these projects, including the market in Dedougou, to see firsthand how the community had mobilised.
Informal settlements such as Madagascar have a low standard of living and no security of tenure. The climate is dry and water scarce. Amidst these challenges, it is important for residents to develop a sense of belonging and pride in their community and for them to realise that they can take action themselves to improve their neighbourhoods.
One way to do this is through small infrastructure projects that the community identifies, implements, and maintains, organising themselves and mobilising in the process. The Country Programme in Burkina Faso has provided funding and technical assistance for community-driven projects in four secondary cities: Bobo Dioulasso, Dedougou, Dori and Tenkodogo.
In the neighbourhood of Madagascar in Dedougou municipality, locals, under the guidance of the Burkinabé NGO Laboratoire Citoyennetés, elected a Neighbourhood Management committee to identify projects to effectively utilise the funds provided through the Cities Alliance programme.
The Neighbourhood Management Committee then worked with residents to identify projects where the funding could be used. The president of the committee, Madame Diarra Salimata, motivated people to participate in the process with her enthusiasm and vibrant persona. Laboratoire Citoyennetés explained the funding process and how residents could organise themselves to take on the project.
The community debated several proposals for projects. Faced with traveling long distances to reach the nearest market, the women felt it was critical to have a marketplace in the neighbourhood that would ease their daily lives and become an added source of income for residents. They also requested a well, since the region suffered from water scarcity. Other suggestions from the community included paved roads to improve the town’s uneven and bumpy paths.
After much discussion, residents decided that the funding would go to building a marketplace and constructing a well. When the residents presented their idea to the municipality, local authorities agreed to provide land for the market and to support the project with electricity connection and toilets.
The community would manage both the construction and the use of the market, and the proceeds from renting the space would flow back to the community to be used for other priority projects, including the expansion of the market.
The municipality encouraged the Neighbourhood Management Committee’s plans and formalised the setup by signing a Memorandum of Agreement that recognised the committee within the framework of the municipality. Local authorities provided the committee with space in the municipal offices and designated a focal point to serve as liaison. Laboratoire Citoyennetés also had a contact person to provide technical assistance and training to help the committee move the project forward.
The work began. The locals were overjoyed to see their ideas materialise into brick and mortar. With the combined efforts of all involved, the market saw the light of day. Residents are further discussing expansion plans for the market.
During a visit to Madagascar, Cities Alliance Project Analyst Desmond Ngochi was struck by how remarkable it was to see funds from partners making a direct impact on the lives of people and the community’s resourcefulness.
“It is ingenious. These people are thinking out of the box. They are making the best use of their limited resources. They own the project and it is wonderful,” said Ngochi.
One of the least urbanised countries in the world, Burkina Faso’s cities—especially its secondary cities—are growing at an overwhelming rate of 5.3 percent. Through small projects such as the market in Madagascar, Cities Alliance aims to build the capacity of cities to strategically manage urbanisation with the participation of all residents. This market is one step in that direction, but a big leap for the residents of Madagascar.
Watch: Highlights of the Burkina Faso Country Programme
“It is ingenious. These people are thinking out of the box. They are making the best use of their limited resources. They own the project and it is wonderful.” -- Desmond Ngochi, Cities Alliance