Providing 560,000 rural people with drinking water for the 15 coming years
Picture caption, from left to right: Minister for Energy and Water Mr. Malick ALHOUSSEINI speaking and Thierry BARBOTTE, Chairman of ODIAL SOLUTIONS group and General Manager of UDUMA MALI, speaking.
The UDUMA consortium, composed of the Malian Direction National de l’Hydraulique of Mali (DNH MALI), UDUMA MALI S.A. (ODIAL SOLUTIONS’ Malian subsidiary), and the NGOs SNV MALI, AKVO and AQUA FOR ALL, officially launched the UDUMA Mali project, in attendance of Minister for Energy and Water Mr. Malick ALHOUSSEINI, in Bougouni on Thursday 11th January 2018. The project aims at providing 560,000 rural people with drinking water in SIKASSO region (Mali) for the 15 coming years. “Starting 2018, UDUMA MALI will enter into public service delegation contracts with the first 11 out of the 50 targeted municipalities”, states enthusiastically Thierry BARBOTTE, Chairman of ODIAL SOLUTIONS group and General Manager of UDUMA MALI.
3 Malians out of 4 live in rural areas and provide themselves with drinking water by means of manual pumps. However, 1 pump out of 2 is regularly out of service. “This existing situation implies more time-consuming and exhausting water chores, increases the price of pump upkeep, affects the health conditions and contributes to the rural exodus”, explains Nicolaas VAN DER WILK, Operations Manager of UDUMA. Furthermore, unused boreholes because of defective pumps represent nearly 66 billion CFA francs (100 million euros) in lost public investments.
Creation of nearly 1,500 jobs in the SIKASSO Region
The project, under the tutelage of the Ministry of Energy and Water, is offering an alternative to this situation for the SIKASSO region. The Malian local authorities will be entrusting the management and operation of 1,400 water points equipped with manual pumps to the newly created private operator UDUMA MALI S.A. The operator will guarantee a continuous water service (72-hour max downtime) for at least 15 years and renew a large part of the equipment.
UDUMA MALI will be charging a fixed user fee per consumed volume (500 CFA francs/m3, 0.76 euro). The water pumps will be equipped with digital water meters. The water service is provided by a caretaker (1 on each pump) and a mechanic (1 per 50 pumps), whose remuneration evolves with water consumptions. The new water service delivery model is expected to create nearly 1,500 jobs in the SIKASSO Region.
UDUMA MALI injects 1.3-billion CFA francs (2-million euros)
The selection of the 11 first municipalities for start of operations in 2018 is based on an analysis of the water points. “We have just ended an on-site survey including the inventory of the water points and an assessment of the current payment and consumption methods in these 11 municipalities”, specifies Abdoul Hamid ABDOU, UDUMA Project Manager for the NGO SNV-MALI.
As a reminder, UDUMA MALI injects 1.3-billion CFA francs (2-million euros) private funds (equities, impacts investors, banks, etc.) in a project whose budget amounts to 3.3 billion CFA francs (5 million euros). The remaining 2 billion CFA francs (3 million euros) are provided through a subsidy from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of which 600 million CFA francs (1 million euros) dedicated to public awareness raising (SNV-MALI), reporting (AQUA FOR ALL), mapping and monitoring (AKVO).
2018 will be an intense teaching year
For several decades, Official Development Assistance has mainly followed the same approach: lend to the cities and give to the countryside. The laudable objective was to provide “free” funding for essential services, such as water, energy, sanitation, health and education, in the poorest communities.
The assessment of these actions in rural areas is unfortunately very poor because, as is well-known, this infrastructure has never really been efficiently maintained. Countless pieces of equipment have simply been abandoned after a few years. Even worse, this financial waste has been overtaken by a social tragedy behind the statistics, which only take into account the systems and not their effective, sustainable operation, and so do not in any way represent the often tragic reality on the ground.
RURAL AFRICA HAS LONG BEEN MIRED IN A WAIT-AND-SEE ATTITUDE
This already very negative finding is even further aggravated by the behaviour encouraged by aid policies. Considered by many as incapable of funding basic services and therefore treated as a simple cost factor, rural populations are mired in a pernicious fatalistic, wait-and-see attitude. They are suffering even more for this attitude now, as the scarcity of public aid is depriving them of the funding they have become accustomed to.
However, the popularity of mobile telephones has demonstrated the extent to which people, even in rural areas, are willing and able to fund the services they need, provided that they work well. What is true for telephones will also be true for other essential services such as water and energy.
RURAL AFRICA SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A GENUINE ECONOMIC ACTOR
It is therefore high time to consider rural areas as genuine players in the African economy. Over half of the continent’s population still live in rural areas and, rather than deploring their alleged inability to adapt to the rules of the market economy, it is our duty to offer them models suited to their specific geographical and financial context.
The aim is to give these dispersed, cash-strapped rural populations access to basic services, especially water and energy, at a cost that is affordable to them. In this way, their freedom of choice and dignity that has been taken away by poorly conceived aid for far too long will gradually be restored to them.
2017, A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF ACCESS TO DRINKING WATER IN AFRICA
2017 is a milestone in the history of access to drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our young subsidiary UDUMA, the first private operator offering people in rural areas the possibility to pay for the sustainability of the water supply services through regular contributions by the volume they consume, recently signed its first Public Private Partnership. More than 500,000 Malians will benefit from this service, starting April 2018 and for the next 15 years at least.
Sub-Sahara African governments are increasingly interested the public service delegation proposed by UDUMA. However, the transition from the « one-time procurement of equipement » paradigm to the « public service delegation to a private operator » paradigm will take more than the blink of an eye. This requires working hand in hand with all stakeholders, and explaining and reassuring.
2018 will thus be a year of intense teaching regarding the « UDUMA » management model and its advantages : universal access to drinking water, improvements in public health and jobs creation. I am convinced this challenge will be a success.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!
Chairman, ODIAL SOLUTIONS
ODIAL SOLUTIONS reveals its strategy and strengthens its African partners network
Picture caption: photograph of the participants in the PARTNERSHIP DAYS 2017.
The ODIAL SOLUTIONS group receives 10 heads of partner companies from 10 subsaharian countries, from the 28th to the 30th of September in its headquarters (Ingré, France). “Although 17 of our African partners have not been able to join us because they did not receive their visas, for incomprehensible reasons, this event, full of brainstorming sessions, information sessions and cultural trips, is the opportunity to strengthen our powerful and active network and to introduce to our partners the strategy of the group, the activities of our new subsidiary UDUMA and our commitment to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) principles of the UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL COMPACT”, specifies Thierry BARBOTTE, ODIAL SOLUTIONS CEO.
Today, the majority of the countries facing a low rate of access to drinking water are in Sub-Sahara Africa. To be precise, 400 million of rural people do not have any access to safe water in this region. However, the share of the overseas development assistance dedicated to water and sanitation in Africa is decreasing ever since 2013. It was even reduced by half between 2013 and 2015. “It is now 10 times lower than the necessary amount for achieving the Goal 6 (“Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UNITED NATIONS, adopted by the world leaders in September 2015.”
A new funding model to ensure access to drinking water in Sub-Sahara Africa
“We are therefore obliged to invent a new funding model to ensure access to drinking water in Sub-Sahara Africa. Our new subsidiary UDUMA explores a revolutionary model”. On behalf of the local authorities and communities, UDUMA rehabilitates, operates and manages public manual pumps, which are often the only source of clean drinking water. UDUMA equips the pumps with water meters and data loggers. UDUMA guarantees a continuous water service with a 72-hour max downtime, at an affordable tariff.
“In practice, in a village which choses to delegate its drinking water supply service to UDUMA, each inhabitant has an e-card which enables them to buy, from certified pump operators, quantities of water they need. These cards are credited in dedicated kiosks or online.” An original model which is taking shape. Indeed, the young company UDUMA has launched its first Public Private Partnership, Wednesday the 20th of September 2017 in Bamako. UDUMA vies to provide 560.000 people in rural Mali (1,400 manual pumps, SIKASSO Region) with drinking water for the next 15 years.
Its will to extend its CSR policy
Yet it must be noted that this event is the opportunity for the ODIAL SOLUTIONS group to officially announce its will to extend its CSR policy and to involve all its subsidiaries in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “VERGNET HYDRO has been a member of the UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL COMPACT for 7 years now. From now on, the ODIAL SOLUTIONS group and all its subsidiaries vie to respect the GLOBAL COMPACT’s 10 principles linked to the respect of human rights, international labor rights, environmental rights and anti-corruption.”
To know more:
The event in pictures
The first private operator which undertakes to provide rural areas in Subsaharian Africa with drinking water on the basis of a long term commitment
Picture caption, from left to right: Thierry BARBOTTE (UDUMA), Arco VAN DER TOORN (AQUA FOR ALL), Nicolaas VAN DER WILK (UDUMA), Bourama TRAORE (BERE CONSULTING), Lionel CORMIER (DEMETER PARTNERS), Abdoul ABDOU (SNV-MALI) and Emmanuel DIARRA (AKVO-MALI).
“The young French company UDUMA, subsidiary of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group (Orléans, France), is the first private operator which undertakes to provide rural areas in Subsaharian Africa with drinking water on the basis of a long term commitment”, explains Thierry BARBOTTE, Managing Director of UDUMA, enthusiastically. Representatives of the Dutch NGOs AQUA FOR ALL, AKVO and SNV-MALI, of the National Hydraulic Agency in Mali (DNH MALI), and of UDUMA had their kick-off meeting in Bamako on Wednesday 20 September 2017, to officially start the Public Private Partnership which is to manage for the next 15 years the water supply for 560 000 people in the rural parts of SIKASSO region (Southern Mali).
UDUMA will deliver an original, innovative and sustainable water supply service. On behalf of the local authorities and communities, UDUMA will rehabilitate, operate and manage 1400 public manual pumps, which are often the only source of clean drinking water. UDUMA outfits the pumps with meters and data loggers. UDUMA guarantees a continuous water service with a 72-hour max downtime, at an affordable tariff. “In practice, in a village which chose to delegate its drinking water supply service to UDUMA, each inhabitant has an e-card which enables them to buy, from certified pump operators, quantities of water they need. These cards are reloaded in dedicated kiosks or online”, specifies Nicolaas VAN DER WILK, Operations Manager for UDUMA.
UDUMA injects 2-million private funds in this project
UDUMA, which is creating a local subsidiary UDUMA MALI, leads an innovative Public Private Partnership. It should be noted that the company injects 2-million private funds in a project whose budget amounts to 5 million euros. The remaining 3 million are provided through a subsidy from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of which 1 million euros dedicated to public awareness raising, mapping and monitoring.
The involvement of the DNH and of the Regional Hydraulic Agency (DRH) of the SIKASSO region in the Public Private Partnership is crucial. The DNH brings its strategic vision, participates in the validation of the public service delegation agreements and facilitates coordination between the partners and the Malian Ministry of Energy and Water. The SIKASSO DRH, will help the consortium to identify the municipalities and water points. The inception phase of the project will serve to identify the municipalities and water points to be included in the project.
In the UDUMA model, each villager pays the water service according to their needs
The ambition of UDUMA is to ensure a sustainable drinking water supply to rural people in Africa. Right now, 50% of the water supply points in African remote areas are out of order or function improperly and 400 million rural people don’t have any access to drinking water. “In the UDUMA model, each villager pays the water service according to their needs. They contribute in this way to the maintenance of drinking water supply equipment in the long run”, sums up Thierry BARBOTTE.
Consequently, UDUMA participates, with help from the Malian and Dutch governments, in the achievement of the UNITED NATIONS Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically, Goals 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all), 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation) and 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development).
Since 2016, UDUMA has set up a pilot site in Burkina Faso. This project, funded by an UNITED NATIONS agency, allows the young company to test the technical feasibility and the social acceptance of the e-pumps and of the electronic wallets.
ODIAL SOLUTIONS and VEOLIA launch a comprehensive drinking water and electricity supply offer for people in urban and rural Africa
Picture caption: Thierry BARBOTTE, CEO of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group, and Martine VULLIERME, VEOLIA Senior Vice President Africa/Middle East, interviewed at the SIWI SOFA « Supplying urban/rural areas with water and electricity simultaneously » (WORLD WATER WEEK 2017, Stockholm).
« Today, we are launching a comprehensive VEOLIA / ODIAL SOLUTIONS drinking water and electricity offer for urban and rural African populations » announced Thierry BARBOTTE, CEO of the ODIAL SOLUTIONS Group (holding of the companies VERGNET HYDRO and UDUMA), at WORLD WATER WEEK 2017 (27 August to 1 September in Stockholm). « Our joint participation in this event is a very clear call to the major international donors [the World Bank, the African Development Bank, etc.] and the water and energy policy makers to support this novel approach » continued Martine VULLIERME, VEOLIA Senior Vice President Africa / Middle East.
As things stand 60 million people in urban areas and 400 million in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe drinking water. And although one person in three in cities has electricity, only one person in six in rural areas does. This imbalance between urban and rural areas in particular results in an unchecked rural exodus, which causes economic, social and health problems. « We want to make donors and governments aware of the principle of equal access to essential services for everyone », said Martine VULLIERME.
To compensate for the urban/rural territorial divide
Prices per litre of water and per kilowatt-hour are naturally higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Unlike an urban project concentrated on one site, a water or electricity supply project covering a rural area is a combination of a number of individual small-scale projects located at a distance from each other. The isolation of rural water and electricity points also makes management and maintenance more costly. They therefore tend to deteriorate more rapidly.
« The new comprehensive VEOLIA / ODIAL SOLUTIONS project is designed to compensate for this territorial divide by promoting water and electricity projects covering both urban and rural areas », explained Thierry BARBOTTE enthusiastically. The combination makes it possible to equalize prices between areas. Although the model requires a small financial effort to be made by the urban areas, it makes the cost of a litre of water and a kilowatt-hour far more accessible for people in rural areas.
VEOLIA and ODIAL SOLUTIONS’ joint program marks the total commitment of the two groups to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the leaders of all the United Nations member states in September 2015. More specifically, it meets the clean water and sanitation goal (SDG 6), the affordable and clean energy goal (SDG 7) and the partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).
In 2016 VEOLIA and ODIAL SOLUTIONS completed a joint project in Niger for 128 small-scale drinking water networks equipped with solar pumps.