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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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

Sustainability index of rural water services: Burkina Faso and Niger


This survey was commissioned by GWI three years after the start of the 2008-2012 programme in West Africa with the aim of assessing the sustainability potential of the rural water services supported by GWI during this period and to learn lessons from governance and management systems. It is part of the ongoing learning and evaluation of GWI's work.

Making large dams in West Africa profitable: What role for agricultural advisory services?


This is a report of the regional workshop "Making large dams in West Africa profitable: What role for agricultural advice?" held in Bamako, on 4 and 5 June 2014. The workshop was organized by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa in partnership with IED-Afrique (Innovation, Environment and Development).

The Global Water Initiative: Water for agriculture programme in West Africa (2012–2017)


This factsheet provides an overview of the work of the Global Water Initiative in West Africa between 2012 and 2017, which focuses on 'water for agriculture'. The Global Water Initiative is funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the West Africa programme is implemented by IIED and IUCN.

Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel


This report is based on the main lessons and recommendations from three case studies analysing the strategies, aspirations and constraints of the various types of farmers living around the dams of Bagré (Burkina Faso), Sélingué (Mali) and Niandouba/Confluent (Senegal). The research, initiated by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, aims to contribute to ongoing national and regional discussions on the policies and programmes needed to improve rice cultivation in dam-irrigated perimeters and to support farmers’ livelihoods.

The challenges for small producers in the areas irrigated by large dams - the case of the Bagré dam in Burkina Faso


This report presents the results of research on the livelihoods of small farmers. The study was conducted with the participation of rice producers based on the irrigated area around the Bagré dam in Burkina Faso. It is part of the activities undertaken by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa which aims to define through its research evidence the options for improving the lives of smallholders farming downstream of large dams.

Accord pour l'établissement d'un Comité Technique Conjoint pour le bassin du Sourou (Mali, Burkina Faso)


Le Comité technique conjoint constitué par cet accord formalise la collaboration en matière de gestion des ressources en eau entre le Mali et le Burkina Faso. Il est signé par deux ministres représentant leur pays respectif, ce qui donne plus de poids juridique aux projets de GIRE dans le bassin transfrontalier du fleuve Sourou.

From demonstration latrines to Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)


In 2008 GWI began a sustainable sanitation project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal. We focused primarily on implementing ‘demonstration latrines’ in rural areas, where the culture of open defecation (OD) and non-hygienic disposal of children’s faeces was widespread. However, demonstration latrines (particularly the government promoted Ventilated Improved Pit latrine) proved ineffective in terms of cost, sustainability and replication.

Report on organising Municipal Water & Sanitation Days in Burkina Faso


Inter-municipal water days are a fun and useful way of running community water and sanitation training with several municipalities simultaneously, as well as providing an opportunity for fruitful 2-way communication between local people and their elected representatives. As described in this document, organising the day itself is a complex process, requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders. Such days proved popular however, and funds permitting, other municipalities hope to host similar events in the future.


Report on organising Municipal Water Days in Burkina Faso


Municipal Water Days are an opportunity for fruitful 2-way communication between local people and their elected officials. This document describes in detail the successes and challenges of organising municipal water days in the Komondjari province of Burkina Faso. GWI piloted an Inter-municipal Water Day, as well as holding a Cleanliness Day where a group of women and young people cleaned the village thoroughly and gave hand-washing demonstrations.



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