Decisions on water allocation and infrastructure lie at the heart of development planning in semi-arid lands. On paper, the laws and policies of Burkina Faso accord equal entitlement to drinking water for the residents of cities and the residents of small towns and villages.

In practice, Ouagadougou’s status as economic and administrative capital gives it much greater power to plan for and mobilise investment for its own water supplies. The Ziga project (in two phases) has been designed to secure bulk water supply for Ouagadougou until 2030.

For local people in the Ziga area on the White Volta/Nakambé River, the project has brought some positive benefits and some negative impacts. Thriving rural communities need water for productive use, yet the government bans villages around the Ziga reservoir (upstream of the Ziga dam) from irrigating from the lake (to protect water quality from the use of polluting chemicals) and they are not receiving support to create alternative revenue-generating activities. ‘Development’, said a local leader, ‘is based on social peace.

As long as we do not receive assistance in recognition of the consequences of the dam, there is a problem that needs to be resolved.

[Extract from author introduction]

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Agriculture and forestry
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Multi-purpose dams
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Community based
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