Burkina Faso
22.7 million

Water is precious in landlocked Burkina Faso, in West Africa.

From October until May (and sometimes longer), a hot, dry wind from the Sahara sweeps across the plains and hills. No rain falls and most rivers dry up. For many, life is a struggle. But the young population has been calling for democracy, human rights and equality, bringing new hope for the future.

Burkina Faso has made good progress on water in the past 20 years. In 2001, the Water Act recognised the importance of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. The Government has since created five protected water basins, and a legal framework to supply this water to people across the country.

But big challenges remain. Local governments responsible for water and sanitation services do not have the funding or skills to manage them. Long walks for water and broken hand pumps have become normal. New toilets are being left unused because people don’t have knowledge of their importance.

lives without clean water close to home.

That's 11.5 million people.

people don't have a decent toilet of their own.

That's three quarters of the population.

 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea

caused by dirty water, and poor toilets and hygiene.

Together, we are taking on these challenges. We are reaching the people most affected by poverty and marginalisation. We are working with the Government and service providers to make sure they are effective and that ordinary people can hold them to account. And we are building good hygiene into every water and sanitation project so that people get the full benefits.

In a world with so many competing priorities, we remain resolutely focused on tackling fundamental issues like these, because they change people’s lives for good.


Monitoring water levels

Image: Andrew McConnell

Keeping the water flowing

We work with people to help them understand the water cycle, discover what water is in their area and become expert in how their actions can affect the amount of water in their community.
Lucien Damiba, Regional Learning Centre Coordinator, WaterAid Burkina Faso

For the last two months of the dry season in Boulgou Province, southeastern Burkina Faso, people struggle to find enough water to drink, cook and keep clean with and ensure their animals survive. Many rivers dry up, meaning the only water source is the local pump.

If too many people rely on one pump, the underground water level can drop, meaning the pump has to work harder and breaks more often. The water may even run out. We launched a pilot project to tackle this.

As part of the project, Lucien Damiba, WaterAid Burkina Faso's Regional Learning Centre Coordinator, helps communities understand how to monitor local water levels and conserve supplies, to ensure they have enough all year.

“We also train community volunteers to monitor how much water is in their area, from measuring rainfall, to tracking the level of water in wells and boreholes.”

Helping communities become water experts has been successful in Boulgou – so much so that Lucien thinks this approach could have far-reaching, even global, effects. "It has the potential to change the future for drought-prone communities in Africa and around the world."

Access for everybody

When the most common kind of toilet is a latrine built into the ground, it is difficult for people with disabilities to use them. In Pelagie's community, Dissin, we've adapted toilets to be more comfortable and private so that nobody is left behind.

Image: WaterAid/Basile Ouedraogo

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