In 2014, the access to potable water in rural areas of Burkina Faso reached less than two thirds of the population and sanitation rates were less than 10 percent. Due to issues like these, 6,000 children under the age of five die every year from waterborne diseases, according to government reports. Water supply services in many areas are inadequate and existing pumps are abandoned. When pumps work, they are hard to access, especially for women. The pump maintenance system is poor, with high rates of breakdown. Well water, when it can be found, is poor quality. Many people simply do not know about the available technology or how poor hygiene affects health.
To address these issues, the Burkina Faso Government, along with U.S. Agency for International Development and its development partners, has begun to implement a national water supply program. Coping with the challenges of the water sector is an essential component of resilience in the Sahel region and therefore a priority for the REGIS-ER project, implemented by NCBA CLUSA.
By prioritizing activities such as improving the effectiveness and transparency of water collection and management, sustainable maintenance and cleanliness of water point sites, REGIS-ER provided access to safe drinking water and improved water management at the community level. Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is crucial to building resilient communities along with actions improving nutrition-led, climate-smart agriculture practices.
To assess refurbished water points in Eastern Burkina Faso, REGIS-ER welcomed high-level officials in January 2016 from USAID and the regional SAHEL office in Dakar, including Rochelle Rainey, USAID’s Senior Advisor for Household Drinking Water Quality; Thibault Williams, Health Officer and REGIS-ER’s Agreement Officer’s Representative; and Sara Passman, Regional Development Outreach and Communications Advisor.
USAID representatives spoke with masons, repairmen, water users associations, administrative authorities and technical services about how USAID investment—through the REGIS-ER project—was empowering communities to manage their own water systems. They also enjoyed chats with households benefiting from education about access to water, home hygiene and hand washing.
During the visit, the project celebrated the rehabilitation of 55 boreholes and the repairing of more than 100 boreholes. These boreholes, chosen by the communities, have transformed water access for 40,000 people in three regions of Burkina Faso.
“This investment is a real promise of change for our populations who will be able to drink safe water, improve their health and strengthen their management capacities of these water points. They will be stronger in their daily lives, better able to face shocks, hazards and the consequences of climate change,” said Peguy Hyacinthe Yoda, the regional governor for Burkina Faso’s East Region.
In 2016, building on solid infrastructure achievements, REGIS-ER will focus on strengthening the human, technical and financial resources of local management groups to continue maintenance for the boreholes. This includes the water user associations and the local private sector, as well as the local authorities and regional technical departments. The goal is to empower these local management groups to take full responsibility for maintenance, ensuring the infrastructure investment is sustainable.