International Observatory on Participatory Democracy

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Community participation and water supply in deprived areas of Madagascar

Publisher: Institut Veolia


Madagascar’s water services were reformed in the late 1990s, with a focus on community participation in cost recovery and joint service management. This participatory approach was in response to economic imperatives, and addressed the paucity of services in many urban districts. In areas where the conventional network cannot meet demand, multiple projects were set up in support of the decentralization and democratization of local societies. The public sphere created space for the consultation of residents and enabled demand for services to be quantified. The management of the facilities that were then built was delegated to user associations (NGOs/local non-profit groups). After ten years of implementation, the participatory mechanism has helped resolve deadlock situations and deliver services to districts that were previously excluded from urban development plans. It has also changed the relationship between water services and urban spaces. The participatory process is, however, a long way from resolving all the problems of supplying deprived areas. This paper sets out to analyze its impacts through case studies of two cities in Madagascar—Antananarivo and Toamasina—using an approach that combines compiled project data with field surveys.