To Protos, water is a powerful lever for good local governance

Access to water and sanitation has a clear leverage effect on both personal and social development.

Water, a lever Séoundé - Mali © Protos

If you can rely on the availability of clean water near your home, you will have more time to invest in your family, work or education. Clean drinking water means fewer diseases and therefore more opportunities to create social and economic progress, both for the individual and his community. Water is also essential to agriculture and most industrial activities. Not only is water crucial to meet our primary nutritional needs, it is also an economic catalyst for prosperity. Water is a lever accelerating growth. ‘Everything starts with water’ is therefore the fundamental tenet of Protos.

According to Protos, water is also a driving force for better local governance. A process of decentralisation has started in many countries in the South: national laws stipulate that local authorities - i.e. the municipalities – need to plan, execute and manage investments in local roads, schools, water and irrigation systems. Assigning them these tasks is logical: it is in their own interest to establish adequate facilities and they understand the needs and possibilities of the local population. However, many of these local authorities have as yet little or no experience with this type of assignment. Our mission at Protos is to assist them in accomplishing their new tasks. The experience and knowledge gained by local authorities through the creation and management of water and sanitation infrastructures are an inspiration for good governance in other fields under their authority.

Simultaneously, Protos helps to establish, organise and train public support groups, such as drinking water and irrigation committees. In line with the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management, they share in the responsibility of managing the water systems. Members of these committees are elected from among the water users. These committees strengthen civil society in its role of watchdog and can question local authorities should they fail to comply with their obligations. Good local governance can only benefit from this interaction.

Water is a powerful lever, not only for development, but also for good local governance.