The Global Water Initiative (GWI) was an action-research and advocacy programme that ran from 2008-17. The project is now closed. This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close. After that date, information about the project and core GWI technical publications will continue to be available from the IIED website and Publications Library.

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Key facts

Project area: 564 villages in 26 municipalities covered by the sub-basin.

Basin: Sourou sub-basin, Volta Basin.

Implementation: CARE, CRS and IUCN, in partnership with Sahel Eco and Caritas.

Starting point

Our 2010 baseline study gave us insight into the various challenges faced by inhabitants and municipal councils within our project area. These can be grouped as follows:

  • Sustainable drinking-water supply

Water points – including boreholes and modern wells - were among the deepest in the Mopti region, with many reaching depths of 80 metres. Drawing water therefore required a lot of effort. In the dry season, many traditional wells, and some large-diameter wells, dried up. Fetching water was also highly time-consuming, as inhabitants would sometimes have to travel between three and six kilometres to find a source. Our study showed that only 47% of households were spending less than 30 minutes fetching drinking water, only 8% were consuming clean water and only 14% were consuming water from a safe source. Due to a shortage of specialists, the cost of hiring local technicians to fix manual pumps ranged from 150,000 and 200,000 CFA francs over a period of one to three months.

  • Hygiene and sanitation

There was generally a low level of hygiene and sanitation among inhabitants. Our study showed that 99% of households were following poor hygiene practices and only 13% were correctly disposing of the faeces of infants below 3 years of age.

  • Technical and financial partners taking over management of municipal services

Despite the adoption of decree 02-315/PRM, transferring to regional authorities the responsibility and resources for managing rural and urban water services, several development partners were building facilities directly at the community level. Given the lack of qualified personnel at the regional level, infrastructure-building under municipal project management was hampered by non-compliance with time-frames and poor quality construction work.

Another GWI study, carried out in 2008, explored the hydrological characteristics of the Sourou sub-basin. It showed that the area held significant natural resources, including: a reservoir on the Burkina Faso side, containing an estimated 250 million cubic metres of water; approximately 15,000 hectares of flood plains on the Mali side; great fishery potential (the economic importance of which was evident from the high number of fishing settlements along the Sourou River); and the vast Samory plain (a large stretch of timber reserves and bourgou pastures). Given its wealth of resources, the sub-basin - and especially the Sourou valley – was an area of great socio-economic value, environmental balance, trade and cross-border development. Unfortunately, the resources were all being managed sectorally (by farmers, stockbreeders, fishermen), with no operational framework in place for local and cross-border management, and no effective mechanism for financing water-resource development.

Project achievements

  • We worked in partnership with four municipal councils to pilot Municipal Water Days. These annual events provide a forum for dialogue between elected representatives and citizens about water supply, hygiene and sanitation in the municipality, in the context of World Water Day.
  • We set up a focus group to consider the sustainability of water facilities in the Sourou sub-basin. It was composed of elected representatives, members of the national water board, technical and financial partners, water users, local repairmen and spare-part suppliers. On the recommendations of the group, local repairmen were provided with equipment and further training; a repairmen association was founded; the cost of repairing broken pumps was lowered and fixed at 15,000 to 20,000 CFA francs; and the length of time that equipment and facilities would remain in a state of disrepair was reduced.
  • We established an effective system for supporting municipal councils in project-managing the building of infrastructure. With an emphasis on the importance of quality at each stage of the project, we saw a marked improvement in the overall quality of facilities and compliance with construction time frames.
  • We fostered a change in hygiene behaviour among a significant proportion of inhabitants in the project area, with regard to washing hands with soap at critical moments, and disposing of waste in latrines or pits. Our end-of-project evaluation in 2012 showed that 49% of households had adopted good hygiene practices as a result of community-led total sanitation in 46 sites. A total of 1,513 new latrines had been built, 97% of which were used regularly.
  • We brought together stakeholders in the Malian part of the Sourou sub-basin to set up seven local water committees, which then joined forces to create a unified sub-basin committee. We mobilised local and national stakeholders to develop and approve an organizational outline for water-resource development and management (SDAGE) in the Malian part of the sub-basin. In addition, we facilitated the implementation of a cross-border coordination framework, between Burkina Faso and Mali, for the integrated management of resources in the Sourou sub-basin.

Find out more:

Browse and download project reports, technical tools and articles produced by the GWI Mali team.





National Coordinator




Water Hardware:

  • Infrastructure-building under municipal project management
  • Water supply


Dieudonné SOMBORO





Monitoring and Evaluation

Isack DOLO