Project Sahel: Water 365 is a pioneering project that aims to give 14 drought-prone communities water 365 days a year.

We realise this isn’t your average ask. We want to invite you to help fund Project Sahel – a project we believe could change the way organisations all over the world work.

Let me tell you why Project Sahel is so pioneering. Water companies in the UK have been managing our water supply for decades. We don’t even think about it unless there’s a hosepipe ban. By investing in Project Sahel, you can bring this same ability to manage water supplies to poor, rural villages in Burkina Faso, including Imbina.

Imbina is one of 14 communities in the sub-Sahelian region of Burkina Faso we need to work with, where rainfall is extremely unreliable. These are communities where providing infrastructure such as boreholes and wells must be accompanied by training on water management, to ensure people have the water they need to last the dry season. 

You can discover more about Imbina, our proposed plans for the village, and the vital role you can play, by requesting a full pack by sending us your address.

I really do hope you will be able to invest in this innovative project and in return, we’ll make sure you are updated with the progress and outcomes.

With my very best wishes,

Meriel Armson
Development Manager - Special Projects

Burkina Faso is situated in West Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world with almost three million people lacking access to safe water. As a result, around 12,000 children under five die from poor water and sanitation every year. WaterAid has an in-depth understanding of the challenges, having worked in Burkina Faso since 2001.

The dry season in Burkina Faso lasts from October to May. During the dry season, the harmattan blows and temperatures reach 49°C.

Rainfall has always been very unreliable in Burkina Faso, and is predicted to become even more so. Many communities struggle through the dry season. After months without rain, rivers and wells dry up. The few scattered boreholes and wells must serve both people and livestock, putting too much pressure on limited water supplies. As groundwater drops, even deeper boreholes may not have sufficient water to last communities through the dry season.

In Imbina 750 people depend on subsistence farming, and many were harvesting crops of sorghum and millet grown during the rainy season.

While there is a borehole in Imbina, it’s not enough to serve 750 people. The mud huts are also so spread out that the borehole is too far away for many families. As a result some rely on the stream, half an hour’s walk away. Others depend on filthy water from holes they have dug. But even in October, the stream has evaporated and many of the holes had already dried up. By March, surface level water sources are completely gone, the ground is cracked, and digging for water in the riverbed is the only focus. 

“When there is no water our main activity is digging. Some people may spend two days without anything to drink.”
Bande Musa, farmer

“During the dry season I don’t wash at all. For two months I don’t wash because there is not enough water – I start to have itchy skin and get skin infections.”
Djande Habibou, mother

“All the crops require a lot of water. The first millet we sowed this year gave us a good yield, but we sowed again 20 days later in a different field and the production wasn’t good. This was because of a lack of rainfall – we started some time into the rainy season so the crops didn’t get as much water as they needed.”
Bangre Lebende, farmer and brother to the chief

“When a child is thirsty he cries. The only thing we can do to calm him down is to find water for him. Sometimes the child may fall sick. You take them to the health centre and they say the child needs a drip. When my son went to the hospital he had no strength at all. He was crying and vomiting. He was too weak to even stand up.”
Minoungou Nouga, wife of the village chief

In the UK, water companies carefully monitor reservoir levels and use the data to manage the resource so we don’t run out. In poor, drought-prone communities like Imbina however, effective methods to manage water supplies over time don’t exist. With so many different needs for water – including drinking water, irrigation for crops, water for animals, washing, cooking, and brick-making – limited water resources are placed under huge strain.

In a small pilot conducted in West Africa, we ensured communities had water 365 days a year by not only providing infrastructure, such as boreholes, wells and sand dams, but also by enabling local people to become water experts – so that water is used when, and where, it is most needed.

The infrastructure 

The defining difference: how you will help 14 communities become water experts

How you can help transform 14 communities in Burkina Faso

  • 14 communities will have safe water to drink and wash with, reducing sickness. 
  • They will have additional sources for animals and market gardens, improving livelihoods. 
  • Local people will understand their water resources and see emerging threats. 
  • They will manage their sources by co-ordinating who uses water and when, reducing conflict and pressure on each source. 
  • They will have data to strengthen their voice and call for assistance if needed.

The benefits of investing in Project Sahel