The largest commune in the country, this local authority is aiming for shared governance by 2030. For the time being, it is continuing to mobilise resources for urban modernisation. The mood on the ground.
A textbook case of grassroots development in Togo. Located in the heart of the city of Lomé, it covers an area of 56 km2. It has a population of around 400,000, mostly young people and women. It is the commune of Golfe 1, also known as the commune of Bè-Est. It is the largest commune in Togo, with 36 districts. It is one of the seven communes of the Golfe prefecture, an integral part of the Greater Lomé Autonomous District. It is administered by a municipal council of 23 councillors, with an executive headed by Mayor Gomado Koamy Gloekpo. He is assisted by four deputies. The Town Hall is located in the Afedome district and has four annexes: Ablogamé, Akodésséwa, Adidome and Adakpamé.
Each annex has offices, a management team and administrative and technical staff, under the responsibility of a member of the municipal executive. This organisation reflects the mayor’s vision for the commune, as expressed when he adopted the commune’s Development Plan (CDP). “By taking over the reins of the commune of Golfe 1 in October 2019, one of the key ambitions of the municipal council has been to lay the foundations for the emergence of our commune, with a view to making it a modern, model commune in the Greater Lomé Autonomous District”, he said.
The plan sets out priority needs, through structured and organised activities, as the mayor emphasises in the preface to the CDP: “The first milestone was to define strategic directions and development objectives by consensus, in line with the national vision and strategic directions, and following a participatory, inclusive and interactive approach.
The municipality’s achievements are made possible by the revenue mobilisation strategy put in place by its elected representatives. Revenues have risen from more than two billion in 2020 to more than three billion in 2021 and 2022.
The commune’s revenues have made it possible to implement the commune’s governance programme. The Mayor is aiming for 2030 to achieve his ambition. He wants the commune of Golfe 1 to have “shared local governance in a climate of peace and social cohesion, strengthening its position as a centre for sustainable economic development, contributing to the economic empowerment of women and young people, with resilient basic social infrastructure and services accessible to all”.
To match words with deeds, a number of infrastructures have been built.
These include the construction of a water supply system at Klobatème. At the Bè market, 23 shops have been refurbished, a butcher’s shop has been built and a water supply system has been installed. The town council has also built the Bè community centre.
In the area of health, the municipality has built a health and civil registry centre at Klobatème, and has provided equipment for the municipality’s health centres. The biggest health project is the construction of a brand new ophthalmology centre at the Bè hospital. The infrastructure consists of a two-storey building with a sterilisation room, operating theatre, monitoring and anaesthetic rooms. To ensure the smooth running of the centre, the municipality has helped to recruit qualified staff.
Education is one of the priorities of the Golfe 1 commune. For this reason, it has made an inventory of the dilapidated school buildings on its territory. As a result, eleven blocks of buildings in eight primary schools have been rehabilitated. Latrines, offices, shops and fences are also part of the refurbishment. To deal with recurrent flooding, the town council has acquired a motor-driven pump, at a total cost of twenty-five million euros.
This machine, with its exceptional capacity, is already proving its worth in the field, as a resident of the Akodésséwa neighbourhood and mother of three children can testify. “We’re often flooded after the rains, and it’s a real ordeal. Some families have lost their children in the floods. But since last year, the Town Hall has saved us. Every time it rains, a team from the council comes to pump out the water. It’s been a real relief. My children and I are really proud of our mayor,” she exclaimed, her hands reaching for the heavens. A way of imploring divine grace on elected representatives, according to local conventions.
In the area of sanitation, the elected representatives have gone to war against littering. “In our area, it’s strictly forbidden to throw even a piece of paper on the ground. Council officers come regularly to check on this. They also clean out the gutters after one or two months”, confided a student selling bouillie, not far from the headquarters of Ecobank. The cleanliness of the town is a matter of great concern to those in charge of the Golfe 1 commune. It has signed an agreement for the delegated management of household and similar waste with the company Ivoire.
This agreement comes after several failures of the systems put in place by the municipality. In addition, the local authority has rehabilitated eleven public latrines, with the help of the Agence Nationale d’Appui au Développement à la Base (ANADEB), and has acquired the civil engineering machinery and equipment needed to improve the defective secondary roads. A resident of the Ablogamé district, a street vendor, said. “This is my home. We’re right in the middle of the city, but it’s as if the district had been forgotten. The arrival of this mayor has changed its face and the way people behave. You always see the neighbourhood under construction, and the city is getting cleaner all the time. If it were before, you’d see rubbish dumps all along the wall. People would even defecate in the gutters. Just for the cleanliness of our town, we have to thank these elected representatives,” he concludes with a smile.
The municipality has placed particular emphasis on social issues, as most of its inhabitants are women and young people. To this end, a Women’s Economic Initiative Project (PIEF) has been launched. The first phase consists of training thirty-six poor women, one from each district, in income-generating activities. Twenty women were selected and each received a repayable loan of fifty thousand francs. The second phase plans to increase the pot to one hundred thousand francs. In order to reduce unemployment in the municipality, the local council has put in place strategies to support young people. These include the development of an action plan for youth employability and the launch of a project to promote the employability and social inclusion of young people in partnership with the Mohammedia prefecture in Morocco.
To support young baccalaureate holders, the town council is awarding study grants to young people from the commune who have been accepted for training at the Centre de Formation au Métier d’Industrie (CFMI). A Digital Academy is currently being set up to train young people who have dropped out of school, but who are talented in the digital field. Once they have received their training, they will be assigned to companies based in the municipality.
The local authority is also working to combat crime and lack of civic mindedness. It has set up a listening unit, in partnership with the anti-drug coalition, to hold awareness-raising sessions for young people living in the ghettos. These young people receive social and health support and economic reintegration. Around a hundred have been given financial and food assistance. They then receive medical and psychological care at Bè Hospital. Around twenty of these young people have been trained in the manufacture of nylon items, then set up in shops, with the supply of raw materials for their reintegration.
A glaring imbalance between people’s needs and available resources
However, despite the efforts of the local council, challenges remain. There is a glaring imbalance between the needs of the population and the resources available, as Salifou Mouthala, Secretary of the Klobatème Neighbourhood Development Committee (CDQ), points out. “We feel that the projects are beyond the means of the municipality. Despite everything, some neighbourhoods are still unable to find solutions to their needs. Take the Klobatème district, the largest in the commune, where the health centre and water tower that have been built are not yet operational,” he says. Similarly, the streets are in a state of disrepair and there are no electricity connections.
However, the CDQ secretary congratulated the mayor on his know-how: “The good thing about the Golfe 1 commune is that it has a mayor who was involved in development before he was elected. So he’s good at it. He looks for partners in every country. He has changed the image of our town. As the local population can testify,” he concluded.
The mayor and his councillors are well aware of the inadequacy of funding mechanisms. They are deploying resources to put in place a genuine partnership between the local authority and the businesses established in the municipality. A local public innovation laboratory in the making.