Water, Environment and Sanitation

Issue overview

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Issue overview

© Unicef Burkina Faso/2005/Huygues-Despointes M.
Drinking water coverage remains insufficient particularly for peripheral areas population

Water and sanitation in Burkina Faso

With an estimated population of 12,802,282 million in 2005, Burkina Faso is the third poorest country in the world. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line moved from 44.5% in 1994 to 45.3% in 1998 and 46.4% in 2003.

Although the schooling percentages have improved considerably over the past ten years (in 2007 65% had been to school (source : MEBA, Statistiques de l'éducation de base 2006/2007), up from 39.2% in 1996), the level of adult literacy is still low, which hinders development.

According to the 2004 Joint Monitoring Programme Report, potable water coverage moved from 39% in 1990 to 51% in 2002, and sanitation coverage went from 13% to 12% during the same period.

The situation is particularly worrying in rural areas: drinking water coverage and sanitation respectively moved from 35% to 44% and from 8% to 5% during the 1990-2002 period. In schools, access to drinking water, hand-washing stations and toilets still remains low (38% for water fountains and 54% for toilets, according to the Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy).

Hygiene practices are also low. Between rural and urban areas, there is imbalance in terms of access to water, as well as in the development of three basic components: drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

Even in relatively well-favoured areas, the underlying problems remain the same: only partial coverage of community needs or broken pumps (8% of pumps are abandoned). When pumps work, they are hard to get to, especially for women. The pump maintenance system is poor, with high rates of breakdown (an average of 23% of pumps don’t work). There are few alternatives for water supply (few hand pumps or wells), and well water, when it can be found, is of poor quality. Many people also simply do not know about the available technology, and are ignorant about how poor hygiene affects health.

As a result of this poor access to water and sanitation and poor practice of basic rules of hygiene, there is a persistence of waterborne diseases such as diarrheas (with a  prevalence rate as high as 20.7% among children under five - 2003 HDS). On the other hand there has been remarkable success in the fight against one endemic waterborne disease, guinea worm. The number of reported cases of guinea worm decreased from 11,784 in 1992 to 30 in 2005, thanks to financial and technical support from UNICEF, WHO and the NGO Global 2000.

Waterborne diseases and malnutrition (affecting an estimated 38% of children under five--HDS-2003) significantly contribute to the high child mortality rate of 184 per 1000 live births (2003 HDS).

To cope with the challenges of the water sector, the government of Burkina Faso has initiated some reforms since 2000. A national water supply programme is underway, jointly carried out by the government and development partners.



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