Even though the need is great everywhere you look, BARKA works with the local (communal) governmental authorities who have oversight over the region’s water resources. Together, we approach the communities that are scientifically and statistically proven to be the most in need.
When BARKA goes to a new village for the first time, we meet with village leaders, the village representative of the Mayor’s Office, the people’s representative for communal development, and traditional authorities such as chiefs or kings as well. We meet with all stakeholders numerous times before launching any project activities. In the process of building relations, we explain the project, and secure the full participation of the village through each step of the project. The village even puts in writing its intention to work with BARKA. The goal is for the communities to engage fully in the decision-making process and to take responsibility for the improvement of their own lives. Each village then raises a symbolic amount of funds (see below) to contribute toward the project, which helps to ensure true ownership of all project outcomes and achievements.
What are the criteria BARKA uses to determine the villages we work with?
Burkina Faso is among the most water-stressed nations on the planet. As the Eastern Region of Burkina is one of two areas where water is most scarce in this country, the villages we approach represent some of the most dire situations in the world. For example, before BARKA drilled a well in 2014 in the village of Lampiadi, the nearest clean water source was 7km away.
BARKA is partnered with EPCD (Establissment Plan Communal du Development), which works for the Fada Mayor’s Office to oversee water and sanitation in the commune. They have more information about this population’s situation with regard to water and sanitation needs than anyone else. In 2014, EPCD took BARKA to the 4 villages in the Fada commune that were experiencing the greatest need for clean water. BARKA then conducted its own independent study and this ultimately gave rise to the “Fada WASH Project” which brought new wells to 4 villages and latrines to 4 schools in 2015. The project benefitted more than 7000 people.
Motivation & Commitment
The village community is BARKA’s most important partner on the ground because in essence, they must take full ownership of the well and latrines to ensure that they are long-lasting and continue to benefit the village. Therefore, we seek out communities that are motivated and well mobilized. For example, some villages take the extraordinary step of forming a water committee, even before meeting BARKA, to organize their effort to get clean water. We look for village partners that are willing and committed to contribute their time, labor and even financial resources. According to Burkina Faso government standards, every village that receives a well must contribute 5% of the cost as their contribution (approximately USD 700).
- Half of these funds are used to train a mechanic from the village to be able to repair and maintain the well
- The other half is given back to jump-start the village savings account started by the water committee which will be used for future repairs
Presence of a School
There are 1054 schools in the East; 466 (less than half) have access to water; an even smaller percentage have access to sanitation.
BARKA’s approach is holistic and takes into account the need for WASH-in-Schools (a worldwide endeavor to ensure that every school has clean water and adequate sanitation; BARKA is part of UNICEF’s Global Coalition for WASH-in-Schools). Wherever possible, we seek out villages that also have a primary school in it or nearby. BARKA believes that every school in Burkina should have access to clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene education and is working to make that happen.
In addition, working with schools and teaching hygiene education in classes is so important for positive results and long-term impact because the students learn good hygiene habits in school, and then apply them at home, teaching the entire family. Students even spur changes within the family by requesting latrines at home if they don’t already have one. In this way, children become the change agents for the entire village.