Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Managing Water: Burkina Faso

Water in Africa

Africa, Burkina Faso

by Jonathan Coleman, Pensa, Burkina Faso

One problem with many of the pumps in my area is that they are not managed. When a pump breaks down, the water supply for the immediate area is limited. People then have to walk to the barrage (which gets very low and muddy during the dry season) to get all of their cooking, cleaning, and bathing water. Sometimes, broken pumps can be shut down for months, causing major changes in village culture. People meet at the barrage or other pumps to talk and to sell goods. A broken pump can change politics, commerce, land use, and basic relationships.

In Dablo, a nearby village, a former Peace Corps Volunteer created an irrigation system that uses a series of concrete trenches so that many farmers can easily irrigate their plots of land. In general, women and children carry water in buckets and canneries. Very few, if any, men in Pensa carry water for domestic uses.

by Jenelle Norin, Safane, Burkina Faso

The mayor of the village is responsible for the pumps. Each compound is responsible for their own well. In families, women are usually in charge of water usage: they fetch it, prepare food with it, wash clothes with it, etc. Men think very little about water. A good wife is expected to have her husband's water waiting for him.

by Anne Hong, Bassan, Burkina Faso

A community water committee is in charge of the maintenance of the solar panel-powered faucets in Bassan. Within families, women and girls are responsible for getting water, washing clothes, bathing the children, and cooking.

Farmers often plant early in order to take advantage of the earliest rains. There is no feasible source of water to tap for any irrigation project. Here, people depend entirely on the rainy season. If the harvest is bad, people go hungry.

Before coming to Burkina Faso, I had never seen such a dramatic dependence on rain. During the dry season, everything that hasn't already been harvested or stored away dies. Families try their best to plant enough during the three-month rainy season to feed themselves for a year.

by Shana Miller, Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

In Bobo Dioulasso, the water is managed by ONEA, the municipal water department.

by Bruce Karhoff, Loumbri, Burkina Faso

A few years ago, a nongovernmental organization built four community pumps in Koumbri. Although an elderly man sells its water for a small cost—five CFA (less than one cent) for a bucket, 50 CFA (nine cents) for a barrel—most families get their water from open wells.

Farmers "manage" water by praying. They believe that only nature—or Allah—decides how much or how little water there is.

World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.