Crisis in Burkina Faso: 1.9 million people are in urgent need of water

Thursday 20 February 2020
Women are busy finding water at the Pissila IDP site in Burkina Faso's Sanmatenga province. Credit: Sylvain Cherkaoui / Oxfam

February 20, 2020 – Following the recent launch of the new Humanitarian Response Plan in Burkina Faso, Oxfam is calling for the urgent mobilization of funds to respond to the pressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs of more than 1.9 million people.

“In 2019, the number of internally displaced people increased tenfold, reaching more than half a million by the end of the year. The situation is critical. Along with huge needs such as access to food, shelter, and healthcare, access to water is vitally important and of utmost urgency for families who have lost everything” stresses Papa Sosthène Konate, Interim Country Director of Oxfam in Burkina Faso.

Women and girls must queue for hours to collect a tiny amount of water. “If I go out to fetch water at 7 am, I have to queue in the sun until at least midday and the small amount of water I collect isn’t enough to meet my family's needs for the day. I have to go through that every day” recounts Fatoumata Sawadogo, a displaced person in Pissila.

“Without water, there's no hygiene; without water, we can’t do anything” warns Huguette Yago, water, sanitation and hygiene engineer working with the NGO AGED, Oxfam’s local partner at Pissila displacement site in the Centre-Nord Region, where more than 3,500 displaced persons are living with no access to water. In this context of great fragility, the risk of epidemics is high and an outbreak would have disastrous consequences in areas where thousands of vulnerable people are living in crowded conditions, and health services are overstretched and often too expensive for those who lost everything as they fled. A marked rise in diarrhoeal diseases has already been seen and there are fears that the worst is yet to come.

Access to water has also become a daily challenge for the host communities that have taken in 94% of the displaced persons. “Water has become a point of tension for everyone. There are too many of us; it's very difficult” explains Ousmane Bandé who is hosting more than 30 displaced people in his home.

In some towns, like Barsalogho, the rate of access to safe drinking water has fallen by 40%* due to the mass arrivals of displaced persons, which have led to overuse and deterioration of the limited infrastructure and water sources available before the crisis. So far, the Oxfam teams have set up three independent water supply points, rehabilitated 29 hand pumps and installed two flexible water storage tanks with a capacity of 20m3 each. With this additional infrastructure, water can be supplied to approximately 21,800 people a day, but this is still insufficient to meet the water needs of all the displaced people and host communities.

“In 2020, Oxfam wants to develop its work to prevent diseases linked to the lack of hygiene for 287,000 people and build or rehabilitate 107 water points” explains Gustave Yamossou, Emergency Manager at Oxfam. To do that, the support of donors is essential. The situation is steadily deteriorating and 2 million Burkinabés urgently need humanitarian aid in 2020.

*Source: HNO 2020

Contact information: 
Claire Le Privé - Regional media and communication advisor – Oxfam in West Africa
(+221) 78 140 47 93