Water Accounting

Within the country context of Burkina Faso there are competing needs for water. A typical well in a rural village (whether it be a drilled borehole well or a traditional, hand-dug “open” well) may provide water for 3 distinct and often competing resources:

  1. Safe water for drinking
  2. Water for economic purposes (agriculture, market gardening, brick-making, production of local millet beer, etc.)
  3. Water for animals (animal breeding is a primary way of life in rural Burkina)

During the water accounting exercise, all the water points of a village (those working and those not working are mapped using GPS. This mapping allows BARKA to see where the points of water access are in relation to village population and to determine where water is most needed. It is important to note that 33% of water points in West Africa are broken and inoperable.

By providing a scientific rationale to determine where the well is most needed, water accounting allows us to circumvent social and political pressure which often influence such decisions in a village context. Water accounting uses smartphones, GPS technology, cloud computing and data analysis to map out every water source in a village, and provides an up-to-the-minute picture of a community’s holistic water needs.

Winrock International trained BARKA’s animators and staff in this technique as a part of the technical assistance it received in 2015 from USAID’s West Africa WASH program.

How It Works:

  • Visit every water point in the village- those working, those not working
  • Photo document each water point and mark the GPS coordinates with a smartphone
  • Conduct a village survey to find out how each water source is used (for drinking, for animals, or for productive use such as farming and small businesses)
  • Upload all data including relative population sizes of each hamlet within the village to a centralized database on the cloud
  • Map the water points with population densities within the village and analyse the data to determine where water is most lacking
  • BARKA has also carried out a water accounting exercise for water & sanitation needs in local village schools

As part of BARKA’s efforts to support local synergies and cooperation, the data acquired from its research is openly shared with other actors of the local development sector.

For further information about Water Accounting, download BARKA’s 2-page summary (French version here) or a more detailed white paper on the process we used for the 2015 WASH project.

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