In a context where public services are decentralised but resources are limited, how can local governments provide water and sanitation services to their constituents?

This is the question that many local authorities around the world are asking. Some are already turning to «contractualisation», a little-developed notion that usually refers to the process of designing and implementing contracts involving public partners in particular.

Based on the hypothesis that «it is possible to improve the methods, tools and conditions for preparing and implementing contracts to hasten achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in the field of water andsanitation» (Elong Mbassi, 17/10/2006), we must now understand, adapt and extend contractualisation to other places so that a greater number of communities can benefit from appropriate water and sanitation services.

These reasons, expressed by their partners in Africa and the Middle East, have led the World Bank Institute (WBI) and the ISW to prioritise the theme of contractualisation in their capacity building programme and to undertake a three-year process in the field.