Burkina Faso: Promoting innovative approaches for research and development (#322)

Despite an almost abundance of water, most water users in the South-western region of Burkina Faso regularly face water shortages due to an intensification of irrigated agriculture. Action was consequently taken to set up the Local Water Committee. The lesson learnt is that in the realm of the water sector, it is crucial for the state, local authorities, civil society and the private sector to collaborate to find new potential solutions.


The Kou basin, located in the South-western region of Burkina Faso, has for several decades been facing various forms of conflicts linked to a wide series of problems usually encountered in irrigated areas. In the Kou basin, hydro-agricultural infrastructures cover a total area of almost 2.000 ha. It includes private garden and horticultural areas, as well as a large 1.200 ha area realised by the State.

In spite of an abundance of water due to several sources, an easy-to-exploit aquifer and a perennial water course, most water users regularly face water shortages due to an intensification of irrigated agriculture.

Since 1987 the political and administrative authorities have been searching, together with the concerned users, ways to address the threats resulting from this situation through the creation of a ‘make-shift’ Kou Basin Management Committee (KBMC). 

In spite the Committee’s will, it was not until 2008 that a Local Water Committee (LWC) was created, building from KBMC’s experiences, through the impetus given by the State within the framework of a decentralised IWRM policy.

The Local Water Committee is gaining growing importance as many actors, in particular civil society, have been invited to its activities. The latter has engaged in the setting up of an institutional innovation: a privately run Water Observatory (WO). 

The Observatory’s role is to support the authorities in developing capacities related to water resources management. Through the creation of a spatial database, the WO focuses on developing tools to control, monitor and manage water resources.  Their resulting work is periodically presented to the CLE, enabling them to forecast possible hot spots and granting it a judging base.

Lessons learned

The experience shows that new responsibility arrangements in terms of research and development in the field of water between the State, local authorities, the civil society and the private sector are needed and possible.

Importance of the case for IWRM

Water resources within the basin offer development potentialities. The case indicates how a better perspective can be given to this dynamic and how it should be driven on the path to sustainable development.