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Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, simple and sustainable solutions for rural communities’ water needs

By Adel Sarkozi

Continuing the effort to foster an environment where children can survive, develop and thrive is just one of the 25 achievements we are celebrating as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

In 2012, 89 per cent of the world’s population used an improved source of drinking water – that’s 2.3 billion more people than in 1990.

In Burkina Faso, a recent pilot project is giving rural communities access to safe, clean water, and also providing a source of employment.

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, 19 August 2014 – In Burkina Faso, thousands of children under 5 die from preventable causes such as diarrhoea, a leading killer of children in this West African nation. Access to clean water is crucial in preventing diarrhoea – and in the fight against poverty and disease.

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2014/Sarkozi
Twelve-year-old Adjara uses a recently finished water point only metres away from her home in Kore village, Dedougou region, in western Burkina Faso.

UNICEF supports the Government of Burkina Faso to ensure that clean water and access to adequate sanitation are available to everyone. It does so by finding simple and sustainable solutions to respond to rural Burkinabe communities’ water needs.

A recent pilot project funded by Hilton Foundation and carried out in partnership with Winrock International is not only bringing safe water to remote rural communities, but also providing employment.

How? By using manual drilling with locally produced and easily available tools, and by training community members in new skills so that they can build more water points for other communities in need.

Today there are 20 manually drilled water points, providing access to clean water for about 4,000 people in villages scattered across desolate fields in remote areas of Dedougou, in the western region of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest regions of the country.

A very special gift

One such village is Kore. A few small, round mud huts dot the arid land, while dusty shrubs thirst for water. Fatouma, a 36-year-old mother of five, has lived here all her life. Not much has changed over the years, she says, but some things are different. A new water point, for example, finished only weeks ago, stands a few metres from her home.

“We used to take water from a well before. The water tastes so much better now. You just can’t compare it. Because of the water from the old well, my children have been getting sick too often – with diarrhoea, stomach ache. Especially this little one,” she says, nudging at 2-year-old Barage in her arms.

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2014/Sarkozi
Community members drill a water point in Kari village, Dedougou region.

Her village chief echoes her words: “You have given us our health back. This is a very special gift.”

In other neighbouring villages, community members trained as part of the project are still at work; there are some final touches to be made. They are working hard. After all, everything is done by hand – the drilling and the placement of the pumps, which are activated by a simple but effective rope. The tools – pipes, spears, hammers – are all made locally.

“These manually drilled water points are not only easier to maintain, but they also cost ten times less than the mechanically drilled boreholes. This means that villagers can mobilize resources and build their own water points,” says Ruben Um Bayiha, UNICEF Burkina Faso’s Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

An essential component of the project has been the training of three teams in manual drilling, each of them with four or five community members.

Mahamadou is one of the trainees. When asked what has driven him to take part in this project, he shrugs his shoulders. The explanation is simple.

“We need more water points here. We need clean water for our families. I want to help others to have good water. And I can also earn money to support my children at the same time,” he says, adding that he has already been asked if he can build a water point for a neighbouring community.

More water points will create healthier environments for other mothers and babies like Fatouma and Barage.



UNICEF Photography: Water, sanitation and hygiene

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