Societal Engagement
Umalia was founded with a fundamental belief
The company's societal mission and the pursuit of profits can and must go hand in hand.
Greater meaning.
Greater impact.
Umalia's approach to social engagement in a nutshell.
Philanthropy, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ESG criteria and sustainable development are all initiatives that contribute to the well-being of society and they are all part of the social commitment. How do these initiatives fit into the business model? What impact do they have on the organization and society?
From community investment to the creation of shared value, these initiatives are measured by meaning, anchoring and impact, three key elements that reinforce each other to create sustainable societal engagement.
Our own engagement.
We have been committed from the beginning to operate our organization according to the same principles that we teach our clients. In 2020, we were certified as B-Corp.

In 2013 Umalia committed itself to the commune of Sô-Ava in southern Benin, together with the town hall and the Collective of Civil Society Organizations (COSC) for a period of ten years.

Umalia's objective was to use its experience and expertise to support the commune in its development efforts, to build resilience to climate change, to build value-creating partnerships with the private sector and to establish responsible and sustainable collaborative governance.
2013
Birth of the project

Sô-Ava's Five-Year Communal Development Plan for 2010-2015 had led the municipality to question the quality of the water. Why was this? The 120,000 people of the municipality of Sô-Ava live either directly on the water in houses on stilts or in villages built on islands that are periodically flooded. Water is therefore at the heart of the lives of the people of Sô-Ava and anything that affects its quantity or quality is a threat to their health and the local economy. Its preservation is therefore of major importance in the survival and resilience of this population in the face of climate change.

In order to provide some answers, clarify needs and have a first point of comparison, Umalia used its human resources and environmental skills to carry out the first analysis of the municipality's water in partnership with Oxfam Quebec.

  • Analysis of the entire territory and a good part of the wells of the municipality

  • First complete diagnosis of the municipality

2014
Anchoring within the municipality

The town hall and the Collective of Civil Society Organizations (COSC) wanted to encourage strategic thinking that reflects the population's opinion on the future of their territory. This exercise was to serve to align future orientations and build the Communal Development Plan for 2015 and beyond.  As part of our multi-year support to the municipality, we conceptualized and facilitated a workshop that brought together a diversity of actors from the municipality.

The primary objective was to establish together their long-term vision for their community. By aligning themselves with the strategic orientations of the municipality, this also allowed them to position themselves advantageously vis-à-vis potential donors and private partners.

  • Creation and facilitation of a consortium

  • Formulation of the vision and the bases of the Communal Development Plan for the period beginning in 2015

  • An active and committed civil society expressed its views on the vision and priority themes

  • The first foundations laid for research and the establishment of future sustainable partnerships that will contribute to the achievement of the vision

2015 - 2016
Strengthening the consultation framework

This first year of the Communal Development Plan has seen the revitalization and evolution of the extended consultation framework of the commune (CCEC). In order to make this participatory and inclusive mechanism set up in 2010 by the town hall and the COSC evolve, it was necessary to rely on the vision built together as well as on the development plan and the partners for its implementation.

At this stage it was key to ensure that the actions of each one were not duplicated and that all were aligned in the common vision in order to guarantee collective efficiency throughout the implementation of the communal development plan.

  • Stakeholder consultation

  • Participatory workshops on the evolution of the consultation framework to stimulate stakeholder engagement and align development efforts for greater efficiency.

2017 - 2020
Multisectoral partnership - Climat'Eau

Thanks to the alignment and commitment of civil society and the town hall, and the clarity and sharing of the vision of the municipality, it has been possible to establish a multi-sectoral partnership with different sectors around a common issue: water and improving the resilience of populations to the effects of climate change.

The Climat'Eau project, funded by the International Climate Cooperation Program of Quebec, was born in 2017 with 4 pillars:
- Raising awareness of climate change
- Water treatment
- Participatory governance research
- The business ecosystem

Project partners

  • Private sector: Umalia and Technologies Ecofixe (biological water treatment company, focused on sustainable development)

  • Public sector: Sô-Ava Town Hall

  • Civil Society: the collective of civil society organizations, bringing together more than 60 local NGOs.

  • Academic Sector: Université Laval (in partnership with the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin)

Results

  • social mobilization through awareness-raising on climate change issues (focus group meetings, theatre of the oppressed, posters, filmmaking, use of local radio, etc.).

  • bringing together actors at all levels of society on the issue of resilience to climate change: civil society, local authorities, ministerial authorities, universities and research centres, private companies, etc.

  • transfer and adaptation of water quality improvement technology,

  • installation of three water treatment systems

  • creation of three thematic citizen committees (sanitation, tree planting and water quality)

  • initiation of the establishment of a business ecosystem,

  • research on collaborative governance as a lever for the success of local development projects

  • successful initiatives on new farming methods

  • identification of other problems affecting the development of rural communities (lack of operational household solid waste management systems, access to clean water for more productive and sustainable agriculture that guarantees food security, etc.).

2020
A story still in the making...

We are currently working on the next steps of this accompaniment and on the financing of a second project. As the Covid 19 crisis has delayed our next field mission, we will update you on our next steps at a later date.