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Access to clean water through Low Cost Technologies: some private initiatives to address the needs of the populations of the Centre-Ouest region, in Burkina Faso

During Phase I (2011-2015), USAID WA-WASH subsidized the installation of rope pumps for populations in its intervention areas.  In the Center-West region of Burkina Faso, some people took the personal initiative to improve their traditional wells and purchased rope pumps to gain access to potable water in their homes.  Given the advantages they gain from these rope pumps, these people do not regret the investment they made.

Located in the rural municipality of Ténado, the villages of Koukouldi, Tialgo, Doudou, and Poun do not yet possess a piped system for potable water.  Traditional wells and boreholes are the main drinking water supply sources for the populations of these villages.  However, because of some factors, such as breakdowns of borehole pumps and the great pressure (drinking water and water for productive use) put on water resources, water is not always available in sufficient quantity and good quality for the populations.

Living in Koukouldi, Ebou Kamouni and her family chose, in 2014, to drill a well and set it up with a rope pump. The total cost of the drilling and the rope pump came to 750 000 FCFA.  Before the installation of this water point, Ebou recalls the ordeal she and her family members underwent daily to satisfy their water needs: “Before we installed the rope pump, we used to travel several kilometers looking for water in wells or boreholes.  It was very tiring, especially for us women and our girls, because we put in so much time to get the water we needed.”

According to Ebou , the consumption of the water from the open well during the rainy season increases the children’s risk of suffering from water-related sicknesses.  Indeed, most of the wells were not protected, and the water from the rain carried many contaminants which polluted the villages’ drinking water sources.

Sicne they started using the improved well outfited with the rope pump, Ebou’s family members noticed an improvement in their health conditions.  “With the rope pump, we consume good quality water and our children no longer fall sick. Also, since we no longer keep water in containers, we reduced the risk of contamination in storage and avoided the proliferation of mosquitoes” says Ebou.

In order to save for repairs when the rope pump breaks down, Ebou’s family members and the neighboring families that use the rope pump have a savings box supplied by small monthly contributions from all users.

Moreover, some women estimate that the constant availability of water enables them to spend more time on their income-generating activities.  Such is the case of Marceline Bakala who states: “Even if we are not at home, our husbands do not need to wait for us to have water for showering.  They help themselves from the rope pump and can then go pursue other activities while we do the same.”

The benefits of the rope pumps are not only perceived in households but also in public places.  In the village of Doudou, the Muslim community members’ contributions and the support from external partners have allowed them to raise 700 000 FCFA and install a rope pump in their mosque grounds.

According to Zakaria Bayili, the General Secretary of this community, the rope pump is very useful to the Muslims of this community: “religiously speaking, it is important to use clean water for one’s ablutions.  Thanks to the rope pump, we no longer use water from wells located in gardens.  People living near the mosque help themselves from our rope pump to get clean drinking water.

The availability of drinking water in schools is an essential factor for pupils’ attendance to school, as they spend almost all the daytime there, being relieved from water fetching needs. In villages such as Poun and Tialgo, the pupils of the primary school quench their thirst from the rope pumps funded thanks to a partnership with the Finisterian Association for the Development of Sanguié (AFIDESA).

Manégré Bonkoungou, the Head of the primary school of the village, tells about the advantages of the rope pump for his pupils: “Honestly speaking, the rope pump is of great help to our pupils.  Thanks to this pump, they no longer need to go back home when they are thirsty.  They immediately have water and are in good conditions to assimilate the courses we transmit to them.”  In addition to its drinking water for his pupils, Manégré Bonkoungou plans to use water from the rope pump for irrigating the school garden, in order to educate the pupils in gardening.

These personal initiatives testify to the importance that the populations’ give to the low-cost technologies promoted by USAID WA-WASH.  While these low–cost technologies might not be adapted to all conditions, we believe that they can help a number of people in rural areas gain access to clean water until a more permanent solution is found.  This innovative and inexpensive technology promoted by the Program has proved itself an alternative solution for access to potable water.  In addtion, it has helped the manufcatuers of these pumps increase their income and employ more people.