Eau Vive / english
Eau Vive works alongside rural communities in Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal), to provide better access to water and to implement actions in the fields of health, education, training and agricultural production.
Eau Vive supports the organization and mobilization of local NGOs, user associations and local elected representatives, calling on national governments to recognize their key roles in local development.
In France and abroad, Eau Vive calls for access to water for all, lobbying for water to be recognized as a human right, for decentralized cooperation to be strengthened and for the international community to take action.
In Africa and France, Eau Vive’s members share the same values:
Solidarity – we believe that working together, among peoples and across nations, to show solidarity and better share resources is key to fighting injustice in North-South relations. International solidarity actions are rich in the sharing of experiences and bringing people together and can be a source of local democracy, equality and social progress
Inclusion – The poorest people and those who are most vulnerable, such as women, and young people, can be drivers of their own development and their active involvement and contribution is an integral part of all our development actions.
Diversity – the wide range of experiences and cultures of our staff, our members and our collaborators, joined by our shared values and objectives, enriches our approach and our daily activities.
Eau Vive supports the initiatives of rural communities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal. We also work in the wider West and Central African region focusing on the organization and strengthening of civil society. In this capacity, Eau Vive works in the nine countries of the Niger River Basin as well as in the four countries of the Senegal River Basin.
Eau Vive focuses on rural communities because this is where most of the populations of the Sahel region live and work. It is the rural district (commune), village or village group that provides the context for the community projects, basic social structures, organization and mobilization of the populations and the fundamentals of social life. In 30 years Eau Vive has worked with 1 800 rural communities.
A selection of past projets
- Burkina Faso: Water and sanitation and local agriculture for 25 000 people in the Sahel Region
- Burkina Faso: Food security for 200 000 people in the Sahel Region
- Niger: Drinking water and sanitation for 69 300 people, sustainable human development in Torodi
- Niger: Drinking water and sanitation - support for local agriculture and for 600 people in 12 communitie s
- Senegal: Drinking water and sanitation for 56 700 people in the Tambacounda region
- Mali: Drinking water and sanitation for 50 000 people in Bankass and Bandiagara
- Mali: Improvement of water management and sanitation in for 83 000 people in Kati and Dioïla
Improved access to water and sanitation
Eau Vive improves access to water and sanitation by supporting the construction of boreholes, improved wells and small water supply systems. Eau Vive also accompanies rural communities’ actions to improve access to sanitation including hygiene education; construction of family latrines and latrines in schools and health centres. Furthermore, Eau Vive researches the types of equipment and the messages that are the most adapted to the rural environment of the Sahel.
These projects do not only provide a water source that meets the population’s needs or sanitation awareness and installations that help to improve people’s health. These projects also help the local communities to get organized. Eau Vive supports them in this aspect of local development.
Water and food security
Paradoxically, rural farmers are the first to suffer from malnutrition and hunger. Almost 800 million people are estimated to suffer from malnutrition in the world. Furthermore, these are the people who also lack access to water, to health, to education.
The countries of the Sahel region suffer recurrent food crises. Crop and livestock production are insufficient due to environmental degradation. However, a reliable water supply, particularly in rural areas, is also essential for farming and producing food. Having enough good quality water means not only being able to meet vital daily needs, but also being able to improve production.
To improve food security in the long term, Eau Vive works on several levels:
- Market garden development
- Improvement of livestock production
- Improvement of surface water sources
- Improvement of the economic environment
- Increase of household revenues
Water and the environment
Land and soil degradation is becoming a major concern. Soil fertility and outputs are dropping, as land is not allowed to lie fallow and ever greater areas are used for crops. Forest resources are being reduced and the soil’s capacity for capturing and retaining water is falling as a result. All these changes have a direct impact on the population’s living conditions: their incomes are falling and they do not have enough to eat, often causing them to leave and seek work in the big towns.
Planting trees and some simple anti-erosion measures can make a significant contribution to replenishing the water tables and improving water resource management. The use of stone cordons, small dykes, filtering dykes etc. not only prevent erosion, they also enable rain water to be absorbed by the land, rather than just running off.
Eau Vive supports the district authorities and rural communities to protect and restore their environment.
Water resource protection can also be approached on the scale of a large river basin, such as those of the Niger or Senegal Rivers. Eau Vive is an active participant in such approaches, working with regional organisations set up by the countries of these basins (Niger River Basin Authority, NBA, and the Organisation de la Mise en Valeur du Fleuve Sénégal, OMVS). The “Shared Vision” of the NBA for instance, consists in protecting and sharing water resources so that all can benefit. The local populations and water users are involved and their needs and activities are taken into account in the design of projects relating to the basin and the use of the river.
Water and Training
Awareness raising and training actions are essential to ensuring the population and the local authorities understand the purpose of the new installations and how to ensure they are properly maintained and managed. This is called “building local capacities” and means the stakeholders will not only be able to ensure the sustainable operation of these installations, but will also be capable of envisaging further projects.
Each action undertaken with Eau Vive leads to the creation or reinforcement of a district or village management structure: water point management committees, cereal banks, inter-village associations, health committees etc.
The objective is to engage the populations in a whole process, from identifying their needs, to designating representatives, to setting up the project, financing it, carrying it out, accepting works and assessing the action.
Eau Vive also encourages the organisation of inter-district or inter-village meetings so that elected representatives and village representative can share ideas and experiences.
The association also organises actions to raise local awareness on various subjects such as health and hygiene, civil rights and responsibilities, technical subjects etc.
In this way, Eau Vive contributes to the emergence of an active civil society through these local structures, and to good governance at a local level. Specific training targets local elected representatives to improve their understanding of their roles and responsibilities and to promote democratic practices among them and their constituents.
Training is also provided in France for association leaders and local authorities who wish to get involved in decentralised cooperation actions. Eau Vive runs short training sessions in France or joint training sessions with their counterparts in the Sahel.
To complement its actions in the field, Eau Vive also carries out lobbying activities. The actions that Eau Vive carries out in the field give rise to local solutions to shared problems, but they are not enough to bring large-scale change.
Mobilising public opinion, encouraging public participation, proposing solutions that could be replicated, influencing decision makers are all actions that contribute to improving living conditions on a national scale.
In developing its lobbying activities, Eau Vive thus strengthens its work on the causes of under-development and not only the consequences. We call on decision makers in the North and South to recognise the role of local stakeholders in development and to place access to water and sanitation at the top of the priority list.
An approach that aims at systemic change
Eau Vive’s actions to improve access to water and sanitation fit into an overall perspective of economic and political development. Eau Vive gives people the means to take responsibility for themselves, to drive their own development and to ensure the actions they undertake will last. Eau Vive is also careful to ensure that all actions are in line with and feed into national development policy, contributing, at local level, to the nation’s efforts to combat poverty.
With Eau Vive, the local populations are fully involved in and responsible for their projects. They:
- Set their priorities and design their projects – Eau Vive goes at their pace.
- Finance their projects – their contribution is a sign of their commitment, supplemented by funding from Eau Vive.
- Negotiate with local operators – learning the ins and outs of contractual relations.
- Implement and monitor projects – building their project management capacities.
- Request the appropriate authorization required from the relevant authorities – thus ensuring they are in line with national policy.
- Seal their commitment by entering into a contract with the local authorities, the technical operators and Eau Vive
Eau Vive has chosen to focus on water and sanitation, for, in Africa as everywhere in the world, water is crucial for life. Water is also needed at school, in the fields and to be healthy. Taking care of our water also means we are taking care of our environment and working together for water helps us learn to work together as a community.
Water creates employment, generates revenues and encourages social and political change. Water is the primary driver of development, enabling people to live with dignity and to advance.
Informing and raising awareness to fight against poverty and for access to water for all!
Eau Vive reminds people of the responsibility that all nations have towards each other and that all people have towards their fellow global citizens.
We inform people and raise their awareness about issues concerning water and development and just how far reaching these issues are. We encourage those who have access to resources to share their good fortune with those who do not.
Eau Vive benefits greatly from the commitment and motivation of its members, volunteer groups and partner associations which inform and mobilize the general public.