In February, the first work visit of 2023 for the Blue Deal in Burkina Faso took place. The visit included a Blue Deal event, field visits and various workshops.
For the Blue Deal event, the President of the Dutch water authority Hunze en Aa’s, Geert-Jan ten Brink, and regional manager Janette Worm from World Waternet traveled to the capital. Together with Moustapha Congo, the Permanent Secretary of the SP-GIRE, they signed the agreement for the Blue Deal Phase 2 and expressed their commitment to cooperation for the upcoming years. The press was also present and the item even made it to the national TV!
Many successes during practical workshops
The work visit also consisted of a number of practical workshops: workshops on communication, water plans and water monitoring. All the 5 water authorities of Burkina Faso attended the workshops. A great milestone is the 20-step plan to create Catchment Area Plans. Also, the waterplans were set up in combination with the commission MER. In addition, a major step included the development of water monitoring plans. Furthermore, the Burkina water authorities developed a communication plan and calendar. Due to the Blue Deal efforts, 1 water authority has hired the first communication officer in Burkina Faso.
Spin-off Blue Deal
In addition to the Blue Deal signing, another project signing took place. Another spin-off of the Blue Deal: a reforestation project in the Cassau region. The aim of this project is to prevent erosion and restore soil fertility. This project is carried out by APAF (Agroforesterie Arbres fertilitaires Foresterie), a local NGO, together with World Waternet and water authority Hunze en Aa’s.
21 February was an important day for the Blue Deal in Burkina Faso. All the partners of the Blue Deal partnership were present to reflect on Phase 1 of the Blue Deal and to celebrate and sign for the start of Phase 2.
The partners of the Blue Deal include representatives from the 5 Burkinabe Water Agencies, the CLEs, the SP-GIRE (the Ministry of Water), OIEau, Eau Vive international, SNV, Unité de Gestion Project GIRE, the Embassy of the Netherlands and Dutch Water Authorities.
Within this Blue Deal partnership, the focus is on Integrated Water Resource Management and building capacity for performance improvement. 5 Burkinabe Water Agencies and several Local Water Committees are working closely together with the Dutch water authorities World Waternet/AGV, Hunze en Aa’s, Noorderzijlvest and Drents Overijsselse Delta.
Important landmark for cooperation
The celebration and signing of the Blue Deal Phase 2 is an important landmark for the cooperation between the 2 countries.
Le Secrétaire Permanent Moustapha Congo from the SP-GIRE (the Ministry of Water) emphasized in his opening speech: “We really appreciate that the cooperation and the working visits from Dutch Water Authorities to Burkina Faso are going ahead, despite the situation our country is currently facing. We already have a long history together and the renewal of the commitment between our countries is again for a long period of time.”
President of the Dutch water authority Hunze en Aa’s Geert-Jan ten Brink: “This partnership is important for both our countries. It is the way to exchange knowledge on water management issues. We all have to deal with the impacts of climate change. Climate change means that the Netherlands will increasingly be confronted with extreme weather events, like drought. Burkina Faso is the expert in this field. The way Burkina Faso deals with these challenges is a huge inspiration to us.”
And that’s what makes this collaboration between the 2 countries so unique: the one deals with too much water, the other with too little. Due to climate change, both the Netherlands and Burkina Faso need to work together to get ready for the future.
In the week of January 16, a delegation of 3 people from the Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso visited the Netherlands for a 1-week work visit. The delegation was welcomed and hosted by the consortium partners water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta, water authority Hunze en Aa’s and World Waternet (water authority Amstel, Gooi and Vecht).
The visitors were Ghislain Kabore, national coordinator of Faso Koom, Adissa Compaore, administrator of Faso Koom, and Lacina Bakouan. environmental manager and sociologist. They work in the Faso Koom programme, part of the Blue Deal programme, where 5 Burkinabe water authorities and 4 Dutch water authorities are working together on improved water management.
Programme of the visit
The focus of the visit was to align all the activities within Faso Koom. In-depth sessions with colleagues from the consortium were held about stakeholder/conflict management, finance, climate change adaptation and monitoring. Also meetings with different board members were part of the programme. There was also time for some field visits to get a better understanding of the Dutch context and Dutch water challenges. The delegation visited polders around Amsterdam and Zwolle, went to Eems and Groningen and got the opportunity to visit a greenhouse as well.
Dealing with drought
The effective cooperation between the Burkinabe and the Dutch partners offers many opportunities for the Netherlands as well. The Netherlands is increasingly experiencing periods of droughts. Burkina Faso is an expert in this field, because it had to cope with droughts for decades already. The country learnt to deal with droughts by various nature-based solutions, like reforestation and stone bunds.
Adapting to climate change and coping with droughts is something The Netherlands really has to learn. Water management has always been dominated by discharging water. Now the Netherlands must learn how to retain water. For this, the Dutch can learn a lot from Burkina Faso! Learning from each other: the best way to adapt to climate change.
On the 10th of October, a delegation from the Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso, consisting of representatives from the Nakanbé Water Agency, the ministry of Water, and FASO KOOM travelled to the Netherlands for a one-week work visit. The goal of their visit? Knowledge exchange on water management and strengthening the collaboration within the partnership.
The delegation was welcomed by the consortium partners water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta, water authority Hunze en Aa’s and World Waternet/Amstel, Gooi en Vecht.
Understanding the Dutch context
During the stay, experiences were shared about the history of water management and the water challenges nowadays for the Netherlands and Burkina Faso. Not only by presentations, but also by site visits.
To show how the Netherlands deals with floods, the delegation visited the IJsseldelta, where they went to one of the locations of the Room of the River project (‘Ruimte voor de Rivier’) near the river the IJssel, and other areas where flood protection measures were taken.
To get an understanding of different ways how surface water can be treated for drinking water, a visit was paid to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingsduinen.
For mutual learning and understanding in the Blue Deal partnership, it was very valuable to welcome the Burkinabe delegation to the Netherlands. Visiting the different locations together gave the Burkinabe delegation better insights in getting to understand the Dutch context and perspectives in water management. It also inspired to continue the Blue Deal work in Burkina Faso. For the partnership in particular, the visit contributed to a strengthening of the partnership, trust, energy and mutual learning for Blue Deal Phase 2.
From 28th November to 2nd December, the Malian waste water operator (ANGESEM) visited the Burkinabe operator (ONEA) in Burkina Faso. During the working visit the partners exchanged challenges, approaches and opportunities for collaboration.
To develop ANGESEM’s knowledge of wastewater valorisation, the partners visited utility and household scale biodigesters to understand the transformation process. Read more here.
The KIWI learning programme recently organised a lecture by professor Guy Alaerts about the unruly nature of international water management and solutions for complex water problems.
Water managers worldwide are looking for integrated solutions for complex water problems. Major investments are often required to become climate proof, but finding financing is difficult. Water managers and financial institutions do not know where to find each other and converting globally available financing into concrete projects on a large scale is difficult. Watch the lecture below. The lecture is in Dutch, but can be viewed with subtitles.
In a recent workshop, the board of the Nakanbe water authority in Burkina Faso discussed how to integrate human rights into water management policies. Water management plans can be tested against human rights on the basis of a developed guide.
The guide identifies aspects such as gender equality, taking the poorest people into account and water allocation for the common good. The board of the Nakanbe water authority embraces the assessment framework in the guide and has decided that respect for human rights should be leading in its policies.
In Burkina Faso, the gold sector is a large water user and polluter. To improve water management in the Burkina Faso gold sector, a collaboration has been set up by the Blue Deal partnership 'Faso Koom'.
To work on water issues at the gold mines, a collaboration has been set up between Dutch Water Authorities, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Mines and several research institutions and NGOs.
Among other things, a guide has been developed on how to build water retention reservoirs at small-scale gold mines. The Blue Deal partnership is also starting a project with a research institution to clean an abandoned contaminated gold mine with reeds. Faso Koom is expected to realise both projects in 2022.
The Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso has successfully supported two local Burkina Faso water authorities to access 600.000 euros of Develop2Build funding. The funds will be used to carry out feasibility studies.
The feasibility studies will focus on the restoration and preservation of 9 large water reservoirs in Burkina Faso. The study has been awarded to Witteveen + Bos and their Burkinabese partner BERA, a local engineering firm. The Burkina Faso Blue Deal partners participated in the selection process.
TU Delft and Erasmus University, in collaboration with Dutch Water Authorities, have launched a study into water management knowledge exchange. The universities are investigating which lessons the Dutch regional water authorities take abroad.
As part of the study into water management knowledge exchange university researchers are looking at the lessons learned at an individual level, group level and organisational level. The aim is to find out exactly what effect these lessons have on organisations.
A questionnaire is sent out via the Dutch Water Authorities foreign coordinators. It is hoped that insight can be gained into the possibilities and limiting factors of international knowledge sharing.