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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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.

  • English
  • Français

Burkina Faso

Development of the profile and system of agricultural advisers and advisory services around the Bagré dam


The Global Water Initiative (GWI), in partnership with Bagrépôle and the Union des groupements de producteurs de riz de Bagré (UGPRB), carried out a diagnostic study on the livelihoods of smallholders in 2013. This study found that the service and quality of agricultural advice around the Bagré dam, in Burkina Faso, was neither effective nor adapted to the needs of farmers.

Irrigation, food security and poverty – Lessons from three large dams in West Africa


In recent years, the governments of the Sahel have committed to combat poverty and food insecurity through a significant increase in the development of irrigable areas. For GWI West Africa, this has presented a timely opportunity to analyse, alongside the relevant ECOWAS guidelines, the socio-economic results achieved on irrigated schemes associated with large dams in the West Africa region.

Analysis of the productive systems in the Bagré irrigation scheme (Burkina Faso)


The development of irrigation is one of the priority strategies in the Sahel countries to tackle poverty and food insecurity. At a time when governments are once again committing to increase irrigable areas, it seemed relevant to analyze, in line with the ECOWAS guidelines, the results achieved in large irrigated schemes developed in the 1980s and 1990s to draw lessons for future developments.

Towards a shared vision: action plans for adapted advisory services in West Africa’s rice irrigation schemes


Farmer organisations and government agencies managing large scale irrigation systems in West Africa need to collaborate to agree on a vision for agricultural services that increases scheme viability while meeting the needs of different types of farmers. However, there is no institutional mechanism in place that enables different groups of actors – with different levels of power – to engage at a strategic level or to negotiate and take forward such a common position.

Towards a shared vision: Advisory services that work for smallholders and government in West Africa’s large irrigation schemes


Large government-managed irrigation schemes in West Africa are expected to meet the ambitious rice production targets of governments and ensure the livelihoods of small scale rice producers. Functioning institutions are a prerequisite for achieving these sometimes conflicting objectives.

Workshop on irrigated land tenure in the Sahel (Task Force for implementing the 'Dakar Declaration')


This is the report of a workshop held on 8 and 9 June 2015 in Bamako, Mali, to present and discuss the results of a study on securing irrigated land tenure in the six countries within the Permanent Inter-State Committee for the Fight against Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) in the context of the "Dakar Declaration".


Financing family rice farming to improve performance of large dams


Governments need to improve access to seasonal credit if they want a return on investment in large-scale irrigation for rice farming. Large dam-irrigated rice cultivation projects are only justifiable if producers can obtain high yields, but to do this they need to adopt rice varieties with high genetic potential and make intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides. The majority of small producers do not have access to credit to purchase all the inputs required.

Ex-post economic evaluation of the Bagré dam in Burkina Faso


This report conducts an ex-post evaluation of the wealth produced by the Bagré dam in Burkina Faso. It provides a financial assessment of the dams for the state and draws lessons for future intervention anbd planning. The report seeks to nurture the wider debate and reflexion on the costs and benefits of large dams in West Africa. 

The Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, is an initiative funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and implemented by IIED with IUCN.

Please not that this document is only available in French. 

Action plan to improve agricultural advice services in the irrigated areas around the Bagré dam in Burkina Faso


This document, based on a consensus between stakeholders, sets out a roadmap for the development of effective agricultural advice services and the improvement of agricultural productivity in the Bagré area.  

The Global Water Initiative (GWI)'s action-reserarch work in Burkina Faso has shown that agricultural advisory systems are inefficient and ill-adapted to the needs of smallholders. With support from GWI, stakeholders from the irrigated area therefore met at various workshops to discuss how to address this issue and establish an action plan. 


Our work in Burkina Faso focuses on supporting smallholders who are farming, transforming and trading rice in the irrigated area around the Bagré dam. We are also looking at the overall economic impact of the dam itself, both in terms of return on investment of the dam as a whole, and in terms of the role it plays in improving livelihoods of the communities it affects.

During GWI’s previous phase of work in Burkina Faso (2008-12), we focused on integrated water resources management in relation to the Kompienga dam.

Bagré dam

Bagré dam was inaugurated in 1994 and the irrigated perimeter of the dam lies approximately 150 km south east of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. It falls mainly within the department of Bagré in Boulgou province, although it also overlaps into Zoundwéogo, Kouritenga and Ganzourgou provinces. In 2012, a public-private partnership – Bagrépôle – took over management of the dam and its irrigated perimeter.

Developing hydropower and large scale irrigated agriculture were the two main objectives in constructing Bagré dam. Its perimeter zone extends to 493,000 hectares with an estimated potential of 29,900 hectares to be developed for irrigated agriculture. Rain-fed land in the dam’s perimeter zone covers approximately 25,000 hectares, which brings the total potential cultivable land to 54 900 hectares.

The dam’s hydro-agricultural objective aims to address food security for the local and national population. Traditional cereal farming on rain-fed land is the main source of livelihood in the region, along with the raising of livestock, including pastoralism. Improving and increasing the production of rice – which is already widely but not commercially produced – is a key component of the government’s national development policies.

By the end of 2013, of the 29,900 hectares of potential irrigated agricultural land, only 3,380 hectares had been developed and allocated to smallholders. In total, 1,673 families, grouped together in 16 villages, are working on this irrigated land. Each family’s head of the household is a representative member of the village collective and responsible for the family’s allocated plot.

Assessment of rice-producing smallholders

To help empower local smallholders and producers to increase production levels and improve their livelihoods, we are carrying out research to find out more about the issues that they face in large-scale irrigation schemes. This includes analysing the different types of local rice-producing smallholders in Bagré and how their methods and needs differ. We carried out similar research in Senegal and Mali and in 2014 published a synthesis of the regional findings which provides a comparative analysis across all three countries.

Find out more about our work on Empowering smallholders.

Local women’s views on rice production

We have been working with women in two villages within the Bagré irrigated perimeter using participatory film-making to find out more about their role in rice production and identify the issues that are most important to them. Women represent a high proportion of the agricultural labour force and yet are frequently not involved in decision-making and rarely have access to secure land tenure.

Find out more about our work with Women farmers.

Agricultural advisory services

Our research on the issues faced by rice-producing smallholders – both men and women – has indicated two important areas that need to be addressed to support productivity and livelihoods of smallholders in Burkina Faso:

  • Strong farmer organisations
  • Improved agricultural advisory services

Bagrépôle – the dam management authority – is currently undertaking a review of how agricultural advisory services are carried out in the context of the Bagré irrigated perimeter. This provides us with an opportunity to support both Bagrépôle and the local producer organisations in identifying current gaps and potential solutions to the provision of these services.

You can find out more about our work on agricultural advisory services here.

An economic assessment of Bagré

In parallel to our work with smallholder rice producers, we are also carrying out an economic analysis of Bagré dam to evaluate the impact that it has had both as a national investment, and in terms of local livelihoods. The initial findings of this analysis indicate that with regards its hydro-agricultural aim, the dam has not fulfilled its potential. On the other hand, the returns from the hydropower component of the dam have been as good as was hoped.

We are undertaking similar analyses in Mali and Senegal which will help us to draw out some comparisons and conclusions at a regional level. This forms part of our wider work on developing awareness and debate about the livelihood impacts and economic viability of intensive, large scale irrigation schemes.

Find out more about our work on Quality investments.

Key facts

Project area: 4 villages in six municipalities of the Eastern and Sahel regions (Bartiébougou, Foutouri and Gayéri in Komondjari province; Boundoré and Mansila in Yagha province; and Liptougou in Gnagna province).

Basin: Sirba sub-basin, Niger River Basin

Implementation: IUCN and CRS, with the support of Tin Tua, CREPA and RECOPA

Starting point

Our baseline study in 2009 revealed a progressively deteriorating water and sanitation situation, due to:

  • Insufficient access to water and sanitation facilities, and poor hygiene behaviour;

  • Water-governance bodies not yet being operational;

  • Unsustainable ecosystem management.

With that in mind, we began working with communities in the project area to:

  • Build or repair multi-use water facilities that would ensure sustainable and equitable access to water (e.g. boreholes with manual pumps and earth pans).

  • Promote good hygiene and sanitation practices, with a view to fostering long-term behavioural change.

  • Improve knowledge and methods of natural-resource management, and establish frameworks and operational bodies for natural-resource governance.

Project achievements

We helped to achieve integrated, sustainable and fair management of water resources at the community, municipal and sub-basin levels. Our aim throughout was to foster long-term behavioural change. This was in the context of new institutional and legislative developments, since a process of effective decentralisation was under way, with responsibility for water and sanitation services being transferred to local authorities, among others, which tied into the national policy for integrated water-resource management (IWRM).

In consultation with the national water board, we marked out five zones of authority for local water committees in the Sirba sub-basin. In our project area, we facilitated the creation and supported the work of a local water committee at the tip of the sub-basin. This was the result of a process in which we engaged communities in identifying issues and planning activities that would lay the ground work for implementing IWRM at the local level. Other outcomes of the process included:

  • Fostering greater coordination between all those involved in natural-resource governance at the tip of the Sirba sub-basin.

  • Improving understanding of the quality of water resources in the Sirba sub-basin.

  • Organising, equipping and raising awareness of IWRM and the effects of climate change, especially among vulnerable groups.

  • Reducing pressure on drinking-water supplies by building four earth pans for watering livestock. We established community platforms and three-party protocols (local authorities, the national water board and communities) for their management.

  • Capitalising on our experience of setting up a local water committee at the tip of the Sirba sub-basin, which was recognised as valuable by the Directorate-General for Water Resources, we contributed to the revision of the 2004 national guide for establishing local water committees, in 2009.

A reform of the system for managing drinking-water facilities marked a significant step towards achieving sustainable management in Komondjari province. Together with stakeholders in the province, now better organised, we:

  • Improved drinking-water access for over 8,700 people in 17 villages (by building 18 new boreholes with manual pumps and repairing 11 existing boreholes).

  • Raised awareness of pump management among communities and municipalities. Municipal councils in Komondjari province are now better informed of, and engaged in, sustainable water provision. They have held three council deliberations about the price of water; adopted 18 conventions to delegate management of manual pumps to water-user associations; signed contracts with repairmen for preventive and reparative maintenance of manual pumps; and set up municipal committees to monitor facilities.

Overall, our project reached more than 9,650 people and raised significant public awareness about the issue of open defecation through training (for local elected representatives, communities, builders, teachers, pupils' parents, the national water board, etc.) and the promotion of hygiene and sanitation (through forum theatre presentations, radio broadcasts, community-led total sanitation, new school hygiene clubs, etc.).

Find out more:

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





National Coordinator

Nouhoun SANOU


Drissa SOULAMA      

Water Hardware

Marcelin ILBOUDO

Hygiene and Sanitation 


  (until March 2011)


  (since April 2011)

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning