Groundwater dam pilot project in Burkina Faso

The first of its kind to be implemented in West Africa, this project tested groundwater dam adaptability in an arid and semi-arid zone


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BF Burkina Faso


About the project Edit

The groundwater dam pilot project in Burkina Faso is an initiative in the fight against desertification. It involved building:

- a groundwater dam with a crest length of about 210 m and depth of 3.0 to 11.4 m (maximum)

- solar-powered pumping facilities: 3 pumping wells (depth of about 20 m) attached in the reservoir

- multi-purpose water supply facilities (for domestic, agricultural or livestock use)

- testing fields of approximately 0.25 hectares in the village of Kombangbedo for experimental crops of grain and vegetables using various irrigation techniques

- a structure with a total length of 33 m equipped with 23 valves, completed by implementing a viaduct from the main road located about 1.2 km upstream of the groundwater dam for water table replenishment

- water table monitoring facilities

- pumping wells and monitoring: 2 drilling and 4 large-diametre wells

- weather reporting facilities (monitor precipitation, evaporation, temperature, humidity, etc.)


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

It’s the first project of this kind that was implemented in an arid and semi-arid West African zone. Normally, we see surface dams and not dams buried completely in the ground to retain groundwater. Tested by the Japanese, this process addresses problems linked to surface dams: water often evaporates in the dry season where populations need it most. The project was presented at the 25th session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The project has helped to reduce desertification in this north central zone. It has also contributed to reducing the population’s poverty by providing better quality soil, wells and drilling. Small-scale farming was possible in the zone (grain (millet, sorghum, rice), vegetables (tomatoes, onions…). In the project’s zone, we noticed an improvement of plant species (quantitative and qualitative) in every season.

As well, the population of Naré and surrounding villages no longer have problems watering livestock and benefit from a water system by installing pumping system facilities. It should be noted that, through three solar-powered pumping and water system facilities, the retention that the groundwater dam provides to villagers is about 7.4 m3 per day or approximately 2.700 m3 per year.

Finally, implementation of the project was supported by other accomplishments that the population benefited from including:

- 3 mills with the help of Japan’s Fonds pour aide de petites sommes, a fund for assistance in small sums
- 4 hand pumps through the financial of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
- 1 garden equipped with 4 large-diametre wells by the Burkina Faso government for Naré’s operators
- 4 orchards provided by GEO-Action, a Japanese NGO

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The Burkina Faso groundwater dam project was a pilot initiative. The encouraging results has allowed other countries like Niger, to test the dam’s construction method.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

The fight against desertification has been one of Burkina Faso’s concerns for several years. The country had first developed a national plan against desertification in about 1977 in response to the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) regional strategy in the fight against desertification. Encouraged by the World Bank and after evaluating the first plan, Burkina Faso developed the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) in 1991 which was reviewed by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1994.

A treaty to fight desertification was adopted by the UN General Assembly and was entered into force in 1996. This treaty states that industrialized countries must provide financial and technical aid to developing countries affected by desertification. It also stressed the importance for all technical aid to use technical means adapted to local conditions. It is within this framework that Burkina Faso solicited the support of the Japanese government to realize an innovative project to fight against desertification.

What is the business model of this project? Edit



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