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"Because international solidarity flows through my commune!"

Paul Ernoux
01 March 2018
In 2017, the municipality of Oupeye celebrated a decade of municipal international cooperation with the municipality of Gourcy in Burkina Faso.

 

Gourcy, which is home to more than 80 000 inhabitants, has to manage a territory as big as a quarter of the province of Liège. It is located 140 km (87 miles) north-west of the capital Ouagadougou.

Oupeye is proud to belong to the some 10 % of Walloon municipalities that decided to participate in an initiative for municipalities through the Belgian Federal Programme for Municipal International Cooperation.

Our fundamental motivation is based on the very essence that binds all municipalities or local communities: solidarity!

The cooperation initiative aspires to share the experiences of management and organisation within our municipalities and to help our partner municipality in its local democracy process. Gourcy only exists since 2006 and, as the decentralisation process in Burkina Faso is still relatively recent, it has little technical, administrative and political experience. Moreover, the political instability resulting from the overthrow of the central government in 2015 has hindered the transition to democracy.

These are the difficult challenges we are facing as we try to carry out several field projects which all have a common denominator: "a more efficient municipality generating projects to improve the quality of life of its citizens". After having supported Gourcy with regard to public cleanliness, Oupeye is now committed to modernising of the civil status system, both in terms of management and construction of adapted premises.

The financial support from the Belgian Development Cooperation is significant, with a subsidy rate of 100 % of expenditure. But Oupeye is also working hard to provide the human resources necessary to conduct such projects.

Sharing the field realities with our partner, whether in the North or in the South, helps both continents to better understand the other’s limitations. International solidarity then becomes obvious, just like the solidarity that binds Oupeye's inhabitants.

The volunteer members of the Oupeye Solidarity Commission (commission solidarité d’Oupeye) launched "Operation Syrup" to extend this solidarity beyond the borders of Oupeye. They devote their time and energy to the children of our schools and those of Gourcy. In the course of September, they take the schoolchildren from Oupeye to our beautiful low stem orchards, to make them aware of the limited access to water that children face in Gourcy. The harvest of fallen pears is transformed into syrup, which is then sold in jars to finance the drilling of a well at the local high school and the rehabilitation of ten wells, providing access to water for several hundred children in Gourcy.

 

Paul Ernoux, Municipal Magistrate for Humanitarian Affairs, Municipality of Oupeye

 

Burkina Faso