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Access to Energy and Access to Water in Guiné-Bissau

Positive Benefits, supported Ianda Guinea! Lus Ku Iagu, implemented by TESE, ADPP and ASPAAB, has as its general objective: To ensure sustainable access to clean water, energy and basic sanitation services for rural and semi-urban populations of Guinea-Bissau.

Ensuring safe and adequate access to water and energy was an existential priority in the Mayan, Persian, Mongol and Roman societies, which stimulated innovations in institutions and infrastructure, and inspired the public plumbing systems that remain with us today (Scarborough, 2017).

Universal and safe drinking water services target the non discriminatory public service based on cumulative evidence of economic, political and health benefits for society (Langfordand Russell, 2017).

In 2010, the United Nations Assembly, throughresolution 64/292, recognized the human right towater and sanitation, and that drinking water and sanitation are essential for the realization of al lrights (UNGA, 2010)..

Also, while huge efforts to improve energy services to rural populations (including the use of renewable energy) in the last thirty to forty years, the unserved population has not yet decreased significantly.


Ianda Guinea! is a European Union programme for and with the population of Guinea-Bissau, with a total of EUR 44 million for the period 2019-2024. A set of eight complementary actions that aim to promote solutions to social problems and new economic opportunities:

  • Ianda Guiné! Arrus (row of mangal rice);

  • Ianda Guinea! Djuntu (collectives of organized citizens);

  • Ianda Guinea! Roads (rural lanes);

  • Ianda Guinea! Chickens (poultry row);

  • Ianda Guinea! Vegetable gardens (horticultural row);

  • Ianda Guinea! Kume dritu (food security and nutrition);

  • Ianda Guinea! Lus ku iagu (energy, water and sanitation services);

  • Ianda Guinea! Health.

The Action Ianda Guinea! Lus Ku Iagu, implemented by TESE, ADPP and ASPAAB, has as its general objective: To ensure sustainable access to clean water, energy and basic sanitation services for rural and semi-urban populations of Guinea-Bissau. To achieve this, the following specific objectives were identified:

  • OE 1: Improving the Decentralized Management of Water and Energy Services;

  • OE 2: Build and Rehabilitate Durable and Quality Water and Energy Infrastructures;

  • OE 3: Improving the Hygiene Conditions of Rural Communities.

It is in this context, Positive Benefits, developed this report which is a product of the Ianda Guinea Action! Lus Ku Iagu which aims to present theBenchmark management/concession of water and energy supply systems, with a view to an in-depth analysis of management models/concession of international reference in the water and energy sectors, in particular in developing countries, through direct contact with promoters of different initiatives, lessons learned and conditions for success.


The methodology used was based on the collection of basic information and interviews to current internal and external strategic stakeholders through the application of questionnaires with local actors, government authorities and funders, with a view to the prioristematization of results indicators and impact of the history of water and energy services in Guinea-Bissau.

The evaluation and identification of documents with diverse technical information, from the technical management of water and energy services, socio-economic studies, tariff studies, good maintenance practices and social innovation, allowed the mapping of case studies (20 case studies of projects in the context of the study with some innovative characteristics and with positive sustainability models), synthesis of lessons learned in national, international and/or similar contexts.

A Workshop was also implemented with the main interlocutors in the study, in two blocks:

  • In the first block, the main challenges of the water and energy systems – maintenance, governance, regulation and transparency, human resources training, quality and continuity of services and financial sustainability and;

  • in the second block, the presentation of an ideal vision of the functioning of water and energy supply systems, and the main solutions to the identified problems of the first block.


Guinea-bissau's water sector, in a global way, it shows a very weak scenario with several aspects that need improvement, which is mainly due to the lack of public investment and the lack of sustainability, poor water quality, unmonitored, with problems of operation, maintenance and training of human resources dependent on external aid, which are by nature scarce and sometimes misused.

As regards the energy sector, Guinea-Bissau is faced with serious problems in energy supply, recurrent mainly from the import of petroleum products to meet the needs of the transport sectors, industry, part of mechanised agriculture and the residential sector (illuminating oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas) and the excessive exploitation of biomass resources. As far as the electricity subsector is concerned, the supply of electricity remains insufficient or deficient throughout the country. Only a small part of the population has access to electricity: the national electrification rate was estimated at 11.5% in 2010. This average hides large disparities between the capital city of Bissau (with a rate of 29.1% electrification), the other major cities in the country (with an average electrification rate of only 4.3%), and rural areas with less than 1% electrification rate.

Guinea-Bissau currently faces the challenge of increasing access to energy and energy security for its population, as well as mitigating climate change. However, despite the unstable political and economic environment in the country, which has affected the development of various sectors of the economy, including the energy sector, the country intends to adopt a clear strategy with a dynamic, structuring and transformative vision for this sector, which solves structural problems and ensures the well-being of the population and the sustainable development of the country.

The entities that oversee the water and energy sectors currently do not have the means and/or mechanisms to effectively carry out their role of supervision of resources and services, in particular at regional level.

The low rate of access to public waterservices (either in quantity or in quality) and sanitation contributes to other problems-effects:

  1. higher incidence of diseases, with repercussions on human health;

  2. perpetuation of the cycle of poverty, placing communities

  3. in a situation of vulnerability.

One of the reasons for the low rate of access to public energy and water services is the lack of investment capacity to expand and improve water and electricity services. As a result of the instability felt in the country, The Government of Guinea-Bissau, as well as the very low, politically imposed deficit tariff values, especially in the field of water supply, has not been able to be attractive enough to capture private investment in the sectors concerned, thus being dependent on foreign aid.


The future of the management of these water and energy systems must be consolidated with the presence of trained technical partners who can manage in a technical way, in training of local associations and technicians with the guarantee of transparency, accountability based on a medium-term strategy for qualitative improvement and extension of services.

Based on the basic information available and the interviews conducted it is considered that the water service management entities are at the elementary level according to the methodology of the concessionaires of the future of the World Bank. According to the interviews conducted and methodology of the World Bank's futures concessionaires, it is considered that the management entities of water services are at the elementary level.

In the mean term, 10 or 15 years, the management entities present in Guinea-Bissau will be able to aspire to reach the concessionaire's reference level 6 in the future, but should already point to the improvement of the different areas of the service, to at least levels three or four, with particular concern in the technical and financial sustainability of the systems.

From the point of view of the typology of water services, the dominant model for water supply in urban areas corresponds to the model of the managing body and in rural areas the management of the service, and there are several types:

1. Local community-run standpipes;

2. Community-run channeled systems;

3. Channeled systems managed bylocal government or regional government.

From the analysis of the tariffs of the various documents, in view of the necessary investments and associated operating and maintenance costs in the medium term, it is virtually impossible to have a viable financial project without external financing. This situation can be reversed by aggregating systems for the creation of systems with scale, and / or creation of business models with other sectors with multiservices, adding the Nexus water-energy-agriculture, but being able to extend to other products and services, which are interested in the sustainability of these two water and energy systems.

In the short term all possible solutions, including decentralised ones, with or without the support of international institutions, NGOs, private companies, local user associations and or with association with other businesses, which contribute to sustainability, will be to be taken advantage of and encouraged, provided that they help to ensure the quality water supply, in a continuous and safe way to the populations, today many of them without these conditions.

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