Yawa Kouigan is the mayor of Atakpamé, Togo’s fifth largest city in population.
She is the first mayor elected in the last 30 years and faces several daily challenges.
“This pollution is the kind of problem that led us to think about development and how hard it was to manage natural resources,” she explained.
“All of this, this is just rubbish.”
For a long time, the country’s mayors were named by presidential decree.
Local authorities still lack autonomy, staff and financial resources.
Last year, after a long decentralization process, Togo organised elections to pick local officials and change the way communities are managed.
“Decentralization is happening after dozens of years, and we must focus on our goals. Create a city administration that is worth it.”
“And make sure that each one of our citizens feels included, that each one has a dialogue with the authorities, because decentralization is all about the citizens and the authorities working closer together.”
The Togolese government continues to help local authorities.
In September, funds worth 4.5 million euros were allocated for the country’s 117 cities.
But according this expert in decentralization, this isn’t enough.
“There are difficulties in term of moving material and financial resources, Pascal Edoh Agbove, an expert in decentralization and local development, said.
“The law stipulates that after local elections, the state should give elected officials the staff and finances they need to accomplish their tasks.”
For this decentralization process to be a success, local authorities will need to learn how to master the mobilization of resources and ensure that citizens take part in local affairs.