|The Courier N° 156 - March - April 1996 - Dossier: Trade in Services - Country Report : Madagascar (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
The Coastal Communes programme in Cd'lvoire
Planned long before the LomV review process got under way, the Coastal Communes programme in Cd'lvoire may well serve as a test case for the concept of decentralisation as incorporated into the revised Convention.
Decentralisation is a policy of the Ivorian government, which is supported by the European Union and is reflected in the national indicative programme. It aims not only at ensuring a better economic balance between the capital, Abidjan, and provincial towns - thereby reducing migration pressures on the former - but also at maximizing the latter's contribution to national development. Indeed, decentralisation in this West African country is believed to have already reached a level that would enable the people of the communes to take effective control over their own economic destiny, provided they are given the necessary infrastructures and inputs.
258 projects in all
The Coastal Communes programme was conceived in 1991. It concentrates on the 16 coastal districts of the country which, taken together have a population of nearly half a million. In the past, these areas benefited least from public expenditure and they are the hardest hit in the current economic crisis. The programme aims to redress the situation somewhat through a variety of physical and non-physical projects - 258 in all - encompassing rehabilitation of existing infrastructures and the construction of new ones in a number of fields including sanitation, drinking water supply, health, roads and markets. It also includes the provision of equipment, studies, training and technical assistance. The total cost is put at ECU 30m of which ECU 28m is being provided by the European Development.
The programme has three broad objectives. The first is to improve living conditions in the urban areas; reducing the economic costs of sickness and ignorance, and ensuring that the urban economy functions more efficiently. The second is to increase the planning, administrative and investment capabilities of the communes. This involves strengthening their treasuries by teaching them how to collect state revenues allocated to them as well as their own municipal taxes, balance their budgets and reduce bureaucracy. The third is to boost economic activity in the communes through funds being disbursed under the programme.
Given the multifarious nature of the physical projects, a two-pronged approach has been adopted for their realisation. High costs schemes, those involving technology beyond the capacity of the communes, and those not within the latter's area of responsibility - such as hospitals, tarred roads and sanitary systems - are being implemented by a central authority. These have been denominated 'Projects of Central Initiative', and 107 have been identified, the majority at the request of the beneficiaries. Those schemes initiated by the communes and within their ability are being left to them to implement. These are called 'Projects of Local Initiative' and total 151 altogether. Particular importance has been, and is still being, attached to the participation of the benefiting municipal authorities at the various stages in the process covering identification, planning and execution of projects.
The general management of the programme is under the Direction Grale des CommunautLocales (DGCL), one of two local institutions identified by a working group during the preparatory period. The implementation of non-physical projects such as studies, production of technical documents, installation of computers, and supply of materials for environmental projects relating to domestic waste disposal, has been allocated to the Direction et Contrdes Grands Travaux (DCGTx). The coordination of partnership activities between the Ivorian communes and local authorities in the European Union has been given to a specialised non-governmental organisation - CitUnies de Dloppement (CUD).
Late start but implementation accelerating
Originally scheduled to be carried out over a four-year period, the programme did not start until the beginning of 1994, two and a half years after it was mooted. This is not unusual for a programme of this magnitude and, as a follow-up mission reported in 1994, the delay enabled adequate preparations to be made. The positive impact of these preparations are now beginning to be seen in the implementation phase.
By June 1995, a number of the physical projects, particularly those stemming from local initiatives, had been completed. Among these were the reconstruction of Abiosso motor park, the extension of Adiake's indoor market (including the building of a number of shops and the paving of the surroundings) and the construction of an abattoir at Anyama. Projects with an emphasis on school infrastructures included a school canteen and shelter at Alepe, a new six-room school in Bonoua and the establishment of a municipal living quarter for students at Sassandra, while extensive classroom renovation has also been carried out at Dabou (42 classrooms), Bonoua (18) and Tabou (14). Among the completed health sector projects are a maternity unit at Sassandra and a dental care unit at Tabou Hospital. Finally, work on San Pedro's Bardo market and cultural centre was far advanced.
Due to delays in the completion of studies entrusted to DCGTx, prolonged negotiations with the Health and Social Affairs Ministry, and difficulties in drawing up a convention with the Ministry of Equipment, Transport and Telecommunications, no major 'projects of central initiative' had been completed by June 1995. Since then, however, things have picked up with progress being made on several of the schemes under this heading.
As regards the 'non-physical' projects, two major developments are worth mentioning. In January 1995, the CitUnies de Dloppement organised a seminar in Cd'lvoire which brought together representatives of Ivorian communes and their European counterparts. This was the first gathering of its kind and it is expected to lead to more frequent and direct contacts, and to specific activities in the area of 'decentralised cooperation'. A convention was also signed with the Fonds Ivoirien de Dloppement et d'lnvestissement (FIDI) to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with access to financial and technical assistance in evaluating, setting up and managing projects. By June, 261 loan requests had been submitted to FIDI.
A training seminar on 'the methodology of feasibility studies' was also organised for the heads of technical services and mayors of the 16 communes, while two pilot computerisation projects for the communes of Anyama and San Pedro, which have relatively large budgets, are being implemented.
The programme as a whole is now being implemented over two phases. The first, which began in January 1994, is expected to end in January 1996. An external evaluation mission will report on progress made under the first phase and the conclusions drawn will help to determine the course of the second phase. A.O.