#1 Honoured guest from Burkina Faso
26 January 2023

Janette Worm works for World Waternet as Regional Manager for West Africa. She lives in Amsterdam and writes blogs about her experiences with projects and partners from Burkina Faso and Mali. In her first blog, she shares with us the visit of our Burkinabe colleagues Ghislain, Adissa and Lacina!

Visit from our colleagues from Burkina Faso

Since 2014, World Waternet (WWn) has been working in Burkina Faso, to improve water services and ecology. Under the name “Faso Koom”, five Burkinabe water organisations and four Dutch water authorities are working together on improved water management, monitoring and strengthening local water committees. Faso Koom means in the local language: the water of my ancestors. And that is exactly what the collaboration with World Waternet symbolises: taking responsibility for sustainable water management and involving all stakeholders and future generations. This project is part of the Blue Deal program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Water & Infrastructure. World Waternet also manages three other projects in Burkina Faso: Eau, Clé du Développement Durable (with SNV), Develop2Build (Invest International) and a reforestation project (Dutch water authority bank).

005.jpgA visit to the Jaap Edenbaan with a fitting lunch: Unox sandwich, pea soup and hot chocolate with whipped cream. How Dutch can it get?

World Waternet has a local Faso Koom office in Burkina Faso that coordinates the total package of projects in that country. Vincent Oostenbrink is project leader of the Blue Deal 'Faso Koom' project. He organised a working visit to the Netherlands by three Burkinabe colleagues from the local WWn office: Ghislain, Adissa and Lacina. Ghislain is the local project leader of the Eau, Clé du Développement Durable (ECDD) project. Adissa is the finance officer and Lacina is a sociologist who focuses on raising awareness, ensuring participation and changing behaviour towards more sustainable water use. During the visit, in addition to various strategic discussions, there was also time for field visits to show Dutch water challenges and activities.

BF Molen.jpgVisit to Amstelland, at the windmill along the Amstel

Who owns those ducks?

The nice thing about welcoming visitors from distant countries is that you are suddenly made aware of things that are very normal for us, but not for others. A nice example is that during a field visit to Amstelland, organised by Waternetter Douwe de Voogt, we were asked the question: who owns those ducks? Shouldn't they be kept in a cage? They were referring to the wild ducks swimming in the river!

During the working visit, the other participating water authorities of the Faso Koom project were also visited: Hunze en Aas, Drents Overijsselse Delta, Noorderzijlvest. So a relay tour through the Netherlands via Amsterdam, Zwolle, Eems and Groningen!

BF Eendjes.jpgDucks in the river Bullewijk near Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

Water in the desert, the Dutch water sector can learn a lot from that!

Not only does Burkina Faso learn from the Dutch water authorities, but we also learn from them! For example, their approach to drought and forest fires. The increasing risk of wildfires also requires greater efforts from water managers. The Dutch water authorities now focus mainly on flood risks. But the drought issues are much less on the radar. It is expected that increasing temperatures and climate change impact will lead to more droughts and wildfires in the Netherlands in the future.

How can the Netherlands better prepare for this, for example by retaining rainwater and water from the rivers for a longer period? Our Blue Deal partners in Burkina Faso are experts in this field. In the middle of the Sahel in West-Africa, they know better than anyone how to cope with droughts. All stakeholders are involved in this. Typically natural materials and processes are used; Nature Based solutions. Such as reforestation, enriching soil fertility, placing stone dams and biotransformation. Adapting to climate change has been tackled there for decades, so there is a lot to be learned for the Dutch water sector in becoming more climate-proof. In Burkina Faso there is not enough water, not even for drinking, livestock and agriculture. The food supply is also affected for this reason. And we have the luxury of wild ducks, because we have enough food and can buy it in the supermarket. We don’t have to breed ducks in pens to provide us with food. Such observations also provide a new awareness of how well-off we are here.

Ghislain Kabore, the local project leader of the ECDD project, returned to Burkina Faso with a good feeling: “We learned a lot, beyond the professional links, we created a friendship…. and I think that I got back with enough cold to freeze my room”