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 This site is no longer being updated, but allows access to GWI outputs until 1 October 2020 when it will also close.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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Practical guide for building a simple pit latrine


GWI helped build appropriate, strong, low-cost latrines. This illustrated manual is aimed at community sanitation mobilisers and villagers already motivated to build their own latrines, and it is best used alongside CLTS. It sets out the guiding principles that should be taken in to account with latrine construction and maintenance, such as factors to consider when deciding where to site a latrine. As well as practical advice, the guide contains characters, dialogue and illustrations to bring the content to life.

Lessons learned from GWI’s experience of CLTS in Niger


GWI are tackling sanitation issues in rural regions of Niger in the lower Tarka valley. Our 2008 ‘demonstration latrine’ project made way, in 2010, for Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). CLTS is an approach focussed on empowerment and changing behaviour. This document follows the progress of CLTS in Niger, drawing out noteworthy examples from communities in the Tarka river basin. We show that CLTS has great potential for communities in West Africa where open defecation is commonplace.

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.

Community monitoring during the construction of a gravity-fed, solar powered water supply: a training guideline


In order for a community to monitor the construction of a water supply, they must first understand the necessary principles of engineering. They will be required to consider the siting and construction of multiple facilities (the main water point, pipe network, water tower and solar panel generator). This practical training also equips participants to recognise good and poor quality materials, as well as interacting to share knowledge amongst trainees.


Contracting for water point construction: Provisional and final acceptance forms


Water users require a mechanism for holding contractors to account in the construction of water points. Using these GWI forms gives the water user committee the opportunity to make a detailed inventory and quality assessment of the work completed by the contractor, to help ensure that the eventual construction adheres to the original design.

Community monitoring of borehole construction: a training guideline


Communities have a right to be informed about decisions affecting their water supply. This GWI participatory training enables communities to oversee the construction phase of their water supply, explaining how to recognise good and bad quality workmanship and how to intervene if necessary. The straightforward sessions are clearly structured, and incorporate discussion modules as well as practical demonstrations.


Monitoring checklists: water points and latrines


GWI recommends regular monitoring of water points and latrines to ensure that all parts are maintained properly and that any potential problems are identified early on. We produced this guide to assist village and local government officials to regularly monitor facilities themselves. We make the link between monitoring and financing, as it is of course vital that enough funds are generated for ongoing maintenance of water points and latrines.


Assuring Quality: an approach to building long-lasting infrastructure in West Africa


Quality assurance is a vital part of the construction of water infrastructure. This practical document outlines GWI’s approach to building long-lasting water supplies in West Africa. Important steps include organising projects in a clear, formal and thorough way (see enclosed checklist), methodically checking the skills of contractors, the materials and the equipment used to make sure they are adequate, and ensuring transparency at all stages.

Making the right choice: comparing your rural water technology options


In our quest to improve access to clean water, we engaged communities in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal, to help them discuss which technologies would work best for them. There are four options to consider for rural West African areas: two types of borehole and two types of hand-dug well.  We present the advantages and disadvantages of each option, to help communities make informed decisions about which hardware is most suitable for them.


Our work in Niger focuses on achieving secure land tenure for both the State and smallholders affected by the construction of Kandadji dam. We are also looking at the overall economic impact of the dam itself in improving livelihoods of the communities it affects, primarily through benefit-sharing mechanisms such as the creation of a local development fund.

Large-scale irrigation in Niger has been a major focus of development since the country’s independence in 1964. However, investment in irrigation schemes has been low over the last two decades, due to a lack of financing and land tenure problems. It is only now starting to grow again.

Kandadji dam

Kandadji dam (currently under construction) is at the heart of government plans to irrigate the Niger Valley in Niger, with a planned 6,000 hectares of developed irrigated land in the current phase, and 45,000 hectares by 2034. The dam site is near the town of Kandadji, in the Tillabéri department, northwest of the capital Niamey.

Construction began in 2008 and is being managed by the High Commission for the Niger Valley (HCAVN), a public body under the Prime Minister's Office. The dam will provide an important hydropower source as well as supporting the development of irrigated agriculture.

The National Office for Irrigation Schemes (ONAHA) was created in 1978 to manage the irrigation schemes and support farmers and producers who work on them. GWI in West Africa works closely with the ONAHA as well as with the HCAVN and local communities and producer groups.

Land tenure: the solution of the long-term lease

In Niger, as in other countries in the region, the success of the irrigated agricultural sector is dependent on resolving issues around land tenure. According to law in Niger, the government can expropriate land if it is deemed to be in the public interest – as is the case with the building of dams and the development of irrigation schemes. However, there is also a legal obligation to compensate the traditional owners of the expropriated land in kind. The government is offering land on the new irrigation scheme to the displaced communities but, as the land will now belong to the state as public property, private land titles cannot be granted.

GWI West Africa has worked with legal experts as well as local stakeholders to develop a proposal for a long term lease. Both the government and the local communities have participated in dialogues and consultations around this proposal and, comments on both sides having been taken into account, there is now agreement from all to go ahead with this innovative land tenure solution.

We are working with ONAHA to implement this new legal solution to secure tenure for one irrigation scheme near Niamey. Based on that experience, we aim to build their capacity – including through the development of an operational guide – to support similar processes in the 73 other irrigations schemes in Niger.

This will include:

  • resolving any disputes over traditional land ownership and compensation
  • mapping and registering the land in the name of government
  • issuing secure legal contracts to all individual famers on the scheme using contract models developed and agreed through our previous work

Our research will also inform the government on inconsistencies in the existing legal framework that hamper effective and transparent decision making around land expropriated by the state for irrigation development.

Find out more about our work on land tenure in relation to Empowering smallholders.

Sharing the benefits through a local development fund: FIDEL-K

The final design studies for the hydropower component of Kandadji dam have now been launched and the public company NIGELEC is expected to manage the plant. GWI West Africa has been helping the Niger authorities design a local development fund (FIDEL-K) which would receive two to three per cent of hydropower revenues at Kandadji.

Over the dam’s 100-year life, this fund would meet the changing needs of local people – such as additional schooling, investments in agriculture or better water supplies – and provide flexible support that reduces dependence on the government to resolve resettlement conflicts. Besides hydropower revenues, shared benefits might include access to irrigated land, a share of electricity, or a structured fishery.

Find out more about our work on Sharing the benefits.