A Reason to Celebrate in Burkina Faso: Organizing for Water
That observation, by the deputy mayor of Banfora at a recent ceremony to mark the inauguration of a water basin committee, underscores the need to protect and manage this arid, landlocked country’s water resources in a way that ensures efficient and equitable use.
MCA-Burkina Faso, the organization responsible for implementing the country’s MCC compact, organized recent ceremonies in Dédougou and Banfora to celebrate the inauguration of water basin committees for the Mohoun and Comoé basins, two of the country’s five major water basins.
The committees were formed with help from MCC’s five-year, $481 million compact with Burkina Faso. The compact supports the Government of Burkina Faso’s implementation of its Integrated Water Resource Management Action Plan, which includes providing technical support to local and regional water management institutions for the sustainable and equitable use of the country’s limited water resources.
These reforms promote broader public participation, consensus-based decision making for issues related to water conflict and local-level management of water.
Without improved water control mechanisms, residents remain at the mercy of floods, droughts and drastic fluctuations in commodity prices throughout the year. They also face increased pressures from migration, regional overpopulation, environmental degradation, and water-use conflicts.
A key milestone in the implementation of the action plan is the establishment of water basin committees. Membership is drawn from local government offices, state authorities, technical experts, and water users, who come together to monitor water quality, use (particularly for agricultural production) and the impact on residents and the environment. The committees rely on this information to inform future plans for fair water use that minimizes conflict and maximizes productivity.
These committees will serve as boards of directors for newly established basin-level government water agencies. Water agencies, in turn, consist of technical experts who will implement the committees’ recommendations, perform studies and collect water-user fees. These committees will also provide a forum for stakeholders to share information and voice concerns about water management in their basin.
The inauguration events were lively and exciting, with members of the committees accepting their nominations with pride. Local musicians and dance troupes provided entertainment; and with MCC’s support, each event featured an exhibition of maps and photos, highlighting water use and water resources in the areas.
The creation of basin committees is just one part of MCC’s broader integrated water efforts in Burkina Faso, which include institutional reform of water management at the national and regional levels the rehabilitation of the Léry dam and the creation of an irrigated perimeter of 2,240 hectares in Di.
With better water management, the compact’s beneficiaries will be able to mitigate weather-related impacts, benefit from improved agricultural productivity and enjoy greater price stability while ensuring the protection of Burkina Faso’s environmental resources. And that’s another reason to celebrate.