Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa and one of the poorest nations in the world. Following programs, most living in Burkina Faso now have access to clean water however, Just 34 per cent of the urban population have access to sanitary facilities while in rural communities, 88% of people are lacking sanitation. In 2017, for every 100,000 individuals, 52 people died in Burkina Faso from unsafe sanitation. By way of comparison, in many developed countries, deaths linked to unsafe sanitation is less than 0.01. It's a sobering thought that in Burkina Faso over 5,400 children under 5 die a year from diarrhoea due to poor water supplies and 3 out 4 people don't have access to a proper toilet.
This situation in recent years has been exascerbated by the emergence of armed groups who have spread over the Sahel region causing a humanitarian and security crisis that originated in northern Mali in 2012. This conflict has now consumed the Liptako-Gourma area in the Mali-Burkina-Niger Faso border region. This activity has led to a 1200% increase in the number of people forced to flee their homes in the area with the number of IDPs in 2019 jumping ten-fold to 560,000 with a further 200,000 people displaced by the beginning of 2020. It is estimated that 2.2 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance with 1.9 million people now in urgent need of water.
Apart from the rainy season (May/June - September), Burkina Faso relies upon its three main rivers for water; the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakambe) and the Red Volta (Nazinon); however only the Black Volta and the River Komoe in the south-west of the country flow all year round. Burkina Faso also has a number lakes and streams that flow for part of the year, however, ironically, these often flood and cause wide spread damage such as in the summer of 2010 when entire villages were lost and tens of thousands were left homeless. During the rest of the year, from October until May (and sometimes longer), a hot, dry wind from the Sahara sweeps across the plains and hills and no rain falls with most rivers drying up. Burkina Faso is not alone in facing such conditions as rainfalls across western Africa have been steadily reducing over recent years and levels of desertification have been increasing. As a result many Burkinabe have abandoned their homesteads and moved to urban areas, but without planning and against a backdrop of national poverty, this has merely compounded the scarcity of water and sanitation facilities.
Agencies such as Water Aid have been active in Burkina Faso for many years helping to address the water situation there and have helped ens of thousands of Burkinabe gain access to clean water. Today they are eaching out to 3.5 million people across seven regions in Burkina Faso, working with the Government to provide handwashing facilities and soap for toilets in schools and health centres to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Water Aid work in partnership with other NGOs on projects such as building and refurbishing boreholes and training locals to undertake these construction projects as well as all important education with schools being encouraged to teach children the importance of hygiene. Other innovative projects working with Burkinabe women to make soap which can not only be sold to make money but spreads the concept of hand washing which can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by over 40%. The video documentary (below) above highlights the water situation in Burkina Faso and some of the work being undertaken there to address it.
Burkina Faso Water: Volunteer in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso Water: Burkina Faso Poverty
Burkina Faso Water: Child Sponsor Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso Water: Burkina Faso Profile
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