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Published on: 22/05/2024

"Since the All Systems Go Africa symposium, I have set my commune on the path of strengthening the mechanisms that guarantee the delivery of better municipal water, hygiene and sanitation services to all the villages and tribes in the commune." Mr. Alassan Tsahirou, Mayor of Kornaka, Niger.

In 2022, IRC Niger invited the mayor of Kornaka to take part in the All Systems Go Africa symposium in Ghana. During his stay, the mayor visited a site for collection, management, and treatment of waste, which inspired him to set up a facility and mechanism for managing solid household waste and faecal sludge in his own commune. 

The waste management challenges in Kornaka that Mr. Alassan Tsahirou, Mayor of Kornaka is aiming to solve

In 2023, he put his idea into practice and mobilised funds to make it happen. The Kornaka Tsabta ('clean') project launched with technical and financial support from the commune's partners, including IRC, the commune of Tanguéta in Benin, the support programme for securing family farms (Swiss Cooperation) and the commune's own funds (4573 euros in 2023 and 6097 euros in 2024). These funds were all mobilised with leadership of the mayor.

Meeting between the mayor, the representative of the commune of Tanguéta (Benin) and a number of actors from the commune of Kornaka

In the short term, the project aims to organise the collection, sorting, recovery and destruction of solid waste; in the medium term, the goal is to purchase a waste disposal machine covering the five communes of the Association des Communes du Canton de Kornaka and the Dakoro department; to build a modern waste treatment plant; to construct rainwater drainage channels; and to build/improve latrines in the commune's four largest markets. The long-term plan is to set up a community waste management structure and move to delegated sanitation management.

This work does not only mean improved livelihoods in terms of WASH access, it also means economic opportunities for people via direct and indirect job creation.

"As part of the project, the Town Council commissioned us to manufacture garbage cans and carts. This provided a significant source of funds, covering 70% of our expenses. It offered valuable practical experience and skills development, benefiting our young trainees. This increased hands-on experience will enhance our trainees' employability." Issaka Soumaye, Director of the Kornaka Vocational Training Centre

Garbage cans made on site at the local vocational training centre

Participation in the All Systems Connect International Symposium deepened the mayor's systems leadership, resulting in a municipal hygiene bylaw, a stakeholder commitment plan to synergise actions of actors in the municipality on a quarterly basis, new cross-country partnerships with local authorities in Benin, and an increased focus on solar-based water systems. The latter aims to transform hydraulic thermal systems into solar photovoltaic systems, to reduce the high cost of diesel and reduce the frequency of generator breakdowns. Four hydraulic thermal systems, including two multi-village systems and one simple system have already been transformed, at a total cost of around 76 224 euros, using the municipality's own funds and a Public-Private Partnership Contract with a maximum payment term of 12 months.

At IRC, we firmly believe that water, sanitation and hygiene objectives can only be achieved with the strong commitment and leadership of national and local authorities. We also believe that the commitment and leadership of the mayor of the commune of Kornaka is exemplary. We're currently supporting the commune to look for more inspired partners and donors to join the mayor's vision for Kornaka: to build a model commune in terms of governance and development of water, sanitation and hygiene services.

The coup d'état in Niger posed unexpected challenges. It made it harder for people to pay for basic necessities; economic activities and development halted as donors withdrew cooperation due to instability. However, stories of change, like the one championed by the mayor of Kornaka give hope for systems strengthening in a fragile context.

Editor's note: This story was developed for IRC's 2023 Annual Report.  


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