Burkina Faso: Action Plan for IWRM (#338)

Confronted with serious water issues constraining development, Burkina Faso decided to implement IWRM. The process has been conducted following three key steps: 1) assessing the status, 2) adapting the legal framework to IWRM principles and 3) Identifying key water resources management issues and developing an action plan. The main lesson learnt is that political will at the highest levels should be established at an early stage.


Confronted with serious water resources problems constraining development, Burkina Faso decided to prepare an action plan setting out the future framework for integrated water resources management (IWRM) and identifying the specific actions and means for their implementation.

The Action Plan has as its overall objective to contribute to the implementation of IWRM adapted to the national context and the national policies, at the same time reflecting the principles of sustainable and ecologically viable rational water resources management.

The underlying broad strategies of the planning process was to: implement an integrated approach rather than a sectoral approach; support for the Government to move to a more facilitation role regarding water production and services and management of irrigation schemes; propose an institutional and human resource plan for the public administration of water resources; develop an efficient and stable management framework at appropriate ministerial levels and propose a staged restructuring process.

A permanent secretariat has been created to implement the decisions of the management committee of the Action Plan. It has the mission to define operational strategies for implementation, elaborate annual activity programmes and to mobilise and manage financial resources necessary to implement the IWRM. 

The process has been conducted as a structured process with several key steps: a) Assessing the status, b) Adaptation of the legal framework to IWRM principles, c) Identification of key water resources management issues and development of an action plan.

Further characteristics of the process were:

  • The involvement of a highly multidisciplinary team; information of stakeholders throughout the process; ensuring consultative, multi-stakeholder process;
  • The inclusion of the Action Plan framework in the law and its elaboration and implementation in decrees;
  • Actions that clearly address the key water resources management issues.

Lessons learned

  • Political will at highest levels should be established at an early stage and the whole process should be firmly anchored in the responsible ministry and ministry staff should be involved in all activities.
  • The planning process should be supported by a communication strategy for involvement of stakeholders, technical and financial partners.
  • Institutional reform possibilities should be considered during the process.
  • IWRM principles need to be studied and adapted to the national context.
  • Stakeholder groups should be formed to discuss the plan and allowed enough time for comments and endorsement.
  • Decision makers at many levels should participate in the consultative processes.
  • Prioritisation of issues need to be based on rational methodologies.
  • To be sure of the value of the proposals and approaches, they need to be pilot tested in a basin where economic, social and environmental stakes are high.