Clean Water for Rural Villagers in Burkina Faso

by BARKA Foundation
Students pose for photo in front of new latrines
Students pose for photo in front of new latrines

December 2015

Dear BARKA Friend and Supporter,

Our 84-year old advisor Bill is always telling us what we’re doing is extraordinary and asking us to bring more people around the table. We want you to know that you occupy a seat at BARKA’s table. You are here because you are part of The BARKA Foundation’s innermost circle of friends. 2015 has been a landmark year for BARKA and we could not have done it without you.

Here are some highlights:

  • Completion of the largest projects we’ve implemented to date, with a combined project budget of $250,000, including working in 5 villages on three different projects simultaneously. These included: Drilling 4 wells in 4 rural villages, constructing latrines for boys, girls and, teachers in 4 primary schools, and sensitizing 14 villages in basic hygiene practices
  • The Impact of BARKA’s water, sanitation and hygiene education projects in rural villages reached over 20,000 direct beneficiaries, and over 50,000 indirect beneficiaries
  • The year's work also included capacity building for 4 villages to be able to maintain and sustain the wells, latrines and hygiene education. Over the course of months of meetings with villagers, BARKA provided technical training to village primary school teachers, water point committees, hygienists (village change agents), and mechanics to maintain the wells for sustainability
  • BARKA launched a “Social Art” initiative designed to reinforce hygiene education through theatre sensitizement which proved highly effective
  • We formed a 10-person professional theatre troupe which received training from the most renowned performing art center in Burkina Faso; the creative team, of which we were an integral part, created the play which contained social messages about hygiene, the need for good governance, and the importance of the role of women in water resource management
  • The play was performed 32 times in 45 days at the hottest time of the year—often above 120F!
  • This was one of the most rewarding endeavors BARKA has done to date and we intend to integrate this kind of “sensibilization theatrale” in all our future work
  • For the first time in its history, BARKA established an office in Fada, ramped up from 4 to 24 employees at peak implementation, purchased a used 4x4 vehicle, and secured professional sound and light equipment and a platform stage for social art
  • At the same time, we’ve created efficiencies that allow us to run the entire BARKA operation on the ground for under $5000/month that includes a staff of 9 + 2 interns
  • BARKA had its largest operating budget ever: $150,000, a 40% increase from 2014

With such success comes an increased responsibility to be accountable, transparent and to measure the impact of our work in the field. This requires increased resources to achieve a new level of diligence we feel we must now meet.   We’re also interviewing new people to focus on program development and administration, however we can’t bring them on yet because we don’t have the funding. That’s right, we’ve been so focused on the work on the ground, we haven’t been able to concentrate on raising funds. As you know, we’re the ones doing the work ourselves with the BARKA staff, and our attention this year was needed on management and implementation. However our sole objective now is to share this incredible story and to secure operational funds for the coming year so that we have enough resources to continue growing and to attract talented people on to the team.

On a more personal note, we’d like to share with you a little of what the past year was like for us. In 2015 we will have spent 10 months on the ground in Burkina Faso. The majority of those days were above 100 degrees F. To be frank, this work is not easy. We both got malaria- thrice for Ina and twice for Esu-- and typhoid fever- once for Ina and twice for Esu. We witnessed floods, crop failures, and increased effects of climate change. We were on the ground during a coup d’etat and marched in the streets with the population that rose up and successfully overthrew first a dictator, and later an attempted coup by the old regime’s presidential guard. We bore witness to the revolutionary flame that burns within Burkinabe that is giving rise to true democracy and recently the nation succeeded in its first fair and free election in almost 30 years. We are holding the hands of the people and walking alongside them, listening to the drumbeat of the culture. In the process, BARKA has created a family of committed and dedicated individuals who are deeply committed to doing good work on the ground and making a difference.

We want to remind you that Burkina Faso is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet, that clean water is most often completely unavailable, and that children often go to bed hungry. The hospitals, schools and other services are severely lacking in the most basic amenities. In Fada N’Gourma, the city where we live, electricity and water sometimes shut off for days at a time. And when water again flows from the tap, it’s brown or black. Yet despite the difficult challenges and sacrifices involved in living and working here, we truly feel like the lucky ones. We feel blessed to be able to do this work, to enable BARKA to be a link between the indigenous and modern paradigms, connecting people, raising awareness, and enriching the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

We have a clear direction for 2016. BARKA is working deeper with the 9 villages with which we’ve already established relationships. With water and sanitation now secured in several communities, we are turning to other critical areas such as:

  • A reforestation project which empowers women through small sustainable businesses
  • A social enterprise to produce water filters to provide safe water and storage in the home
  • A collaboration with UNICEF to assist girls in school with menstrual hygiene management

We need your continued support to fuel and expand this work. Our year-end fundraising campaign is setting an ambitious goal to raise $60,000 which would enable us to cover our operational costs for all of 2016. Won’t you please help us meet or exceed this goal by making as generous a gift as possible to ensure the continued growth and success of BARKA’s work? Donations to BARKA are 100% tax-deductible. Please consider being a part of the extraordinary growth and impact on the ground that awaits us all in 2016. Thank you for your support and for sitting around the table with us.

‘Barka’ is an African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity. BARKA!

Four more positive borehole wells drilled in 2015!
Four more positive borehole wells drilled in 2015!
Latrine for Primary School Being Constructed
Latrine for Primary School Being Constructed

After 12 months, the Fada WASH project is coming to a close. We are currently in the final stages of building the last latrines and getting ready monitor and evaluate our work in order to gauge the impact and effectiveness of the project. None of this would have been possible with your support over the past year!

Once these results are compiled, we will be sharing them with you via Global Giving project updates. In the meantime, we are already beginning to set our sights on what’s next. The next few months will be a time for project development and further fundraising.

Here are the future projects BARKA is currently developing:

  • Continuing to work even deeper with the villages of the Fada WASH project in the domain of water, sanitation & hygiene and to use the results of the water accounting survey we conducted earlier this year to better serve the many more hamlets within these same villages that have desperate need for clean water and improved sanitation
  • To perform the play BARKA produced “Water for the Present and for the Future” to an even wider audience within the commune of Fada because it proved to be so effective at teaching how to properly manage water resources
  • To implement a market study for a social enterprise BARKA is getting off the ground which will manufacture, sell and distribute ceramic water filters. This would be the first of its kind in Burkina Faso.
  • And lastly, to venture into the domain of agriculture through a reforestation project which would also serve to empower women through sustainable business opportunities

We'd also like to point out that BARKA recently posted a micro-project on Global Giving.  We are seeking to raise $2000 to build a more permanent structure for the school of Dandantiri, one of the villages which received latrines and hygiene education as part of the Fada WASH project.  The village itself has raised funds among themselves and has already begun working on this project. They approached BARKA to ask us to complete the financing. You can visit the new Global Giving project page and find further information here. Thank you for your consideration of supporting this worthy project which will not only directly benefit 78 students, it will empower an entire community.

The next year will be an interesting one for BARKA as we close two of the largest projects of our organization’s history and get ready to set new goals and achievements by building on our success and stepping out into unchartered territory. As BARKA grows and develops new projects, we invite you to continue walking alongside us through this wonderful journey which is only feasible through your generous financial support.

On behalf of the villagers we have served through the past year, who are always telling us to bless those who have contributed to the project that has benefitted them, we say to you, barka!

The mason, doing his job.
The mason, doing his job.
Local Government visits site to oversee the work
Local Government visits site to oversee the work
Bricks made and ready for use...
Bricks made and ready for use...


The Drilling of a New Well
The Drilling of a New Well

Dear all,

My name is D.J. Brooks and I am currently a third year student at Harvard University and am interning with the BARKA Foundation this summer in Fada N’Gourma, Burkina Faso. I have been asked to give you all an update as to the work the Foundation has completed over the past several months with the FADA WASH project, and I would be remiss to think that I could include it all in detail in this update. In these few months past, the Foundation has been engaged in truly inspiring and impressive work here in Burkina Faso and we want to share it with all of you.

For this project, the Foundation has been working with five different communities: Koaré, Bouguy, Boungou, Kanougou, and Natiaboani. In each of the communities, BARKA is working to mobilize and engage the people around water, sanitation, and hygiene through sustainable community involvement. In four of the communities, BARKA is working directly with the local schools to promote sound sanitation and hygiene practices. Through the financial support of Rotary International, BARKA has given essential materials to each of the schools,, including hand-washing stations and soap, brooms and dust pans to clean classrooms, plastic water transport containers, fruits trees to be grown at the schools, and animation cards intended to reinforce good sanitation practices. Teachers from these schools, as well, have been trained in hygiene and sanitation techniques for the classroom, further encouraging the adoption of sound WASH practices. In these communities, gender-specific latrines are being installed at the schools by local, experienced masons to enable the villages to begin to manage their sanitation needs. Each of the villages will be facilitated in the coming months by an experienced BARKA staff member who will be able to aid the teachers in finding the best, most effective ways to maintain and promote good hygiene in the schools.

At the same time, BARKA is working with the BESER enterprise and the Regional Direction of Water and Sanitation to install four wells in four of these same communities. In each community, BARKA has helped to organize and train a Water Point Committee (WPC) to guarantee exemplary water service and to collect funds from the association of water users to allow for future well repairs. In addition to the WPC, BARKA has trained two women from each village as hygienists whose charge it will to be to teach and reinforce to the villagers the practices of proper sanitation and hygiene. In “teaching the teachers,” BARKA is able to maximize the number of people receiving this information. Currently in progress as I type this update is a workshop, also, to train a mechanic from each of the villages in how to repair the well when it malfunctions. In doing so, BARKA is able to help the community safeguard their access to this essential resource. Like with the hygiene and sanitation efforts in the schools, these WPC’s and hygienists will be guided by BARKA staffers who will aid them in the management and accounting of funds collected as well as in creation of a robust list of users of the water source.

Over the past few months, BARKA has engaged as well in a major Social Art collaboration with the OneDrop Foundation and the Espace Culturel Gambidi to reinforce the hygiene education component of the FADA WASH project.  In particular, this "spectacle" imparted effective social messages on the issues of improved sanitation, basic hygiene, the need for collecting funds for sustainability (future repairs), the importance of good governance of the water committee, and the key role women play in the management of water resources.  The diffusion of the theatrical performance has been realized in each village where the FADA WASH project is being implemented, as well as 14 other villages plus 13 high schools in the region. More than 10 000 people have been sensitized through this social art project.

I have come to work at BARKA during a period of explosive growth for the organization. I myself have been a BARKA supporter and fundraiser for many years. In 2010 as a student at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, ME, my close friend Christina Long and I organized the first annual Peace, Water, and Wisdom 5k Race to raise money for BARKA and to raise awareness about WASH issues plaguing many around the globe. This year’s race will be our fifth annual event and has been continued by the Student Environmental Action Committee at the school. Over the past five years, the event has raised thousands of dollars for BARKA and I now find myself in a unique position. I have fundraised for the foundation without seeing first hand the impact and the in-country work that has been happening. Here now, I am able to observe and contribute to the incredible and life-changing work in which they engage and from it have gained a new perspective that will most definitely fuel my support and love for this organization. It is a joy to share it with you and hopefully to provide a more tangible sense of the impact your support is having on the ground.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your financial support of The BARKA Foundation, without which this work would not be possible. On behalf of the thousands of rural Burkinabè who are gaining access to sustainable clean water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education through your personal involvement and generosity, I wish to say thank you. Barka!


Best wishes from Burkina,


A Scene from the Social Art Project
A Scene from the Social Art Project
Construction of New Latrines
Construction of New Latrines
A Hand-Washing Station Given to a School
A Hand-Washing Station Given to a School


Ina and Esu, the newlyweds leaving Town Hall.
Ina and Esu, the newlyweds leaving Town Hall.

Today marks the 22nd annual World Day of Water and regardless of the strides that have been made to make water accessible to everyone, 783 million people still do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. When the BARKA Foundation was established in 2006, founders Ina and Esu had one goal: to address the dire water crisis for the people of Burkina Faso. Today, in 2015, their hard work and vision has come a long way.

BARKA is currently implementing a holistic water, sanitation & hygiene education project in 5 villages simultanously.  In order to do this successfully, BARKA has established a system of "water accounting", a comprehensive and hi-tech methodology using smartphones and GPS to determine the place where a well is most needed within a community. Right now, BARKA is conducting in-depth surveys with each household in each hamlet, gaining valuable information about how the water needs for people, animals, and economic activities compete against each other. This method analyzes how best to deal with these competing factors and to determine how best to meet a community’s holistic water needs. The data BARKA collects is then uploaded to a cloud server where it can be filtered for specific results. Not only has BARKA’s work taken a quantum leap through the use of this tool, but this data and analysis has become accessible to the villagers, other NGOs, and the Burkinabe government, in an environment where accurate and up-to-date information is a rare and precious commodity.

Also in 2015, BARKA established a partnership with One Drop Foundation, an NGO founded by Guy Laliberte, the CEO of Cirque du Soleil. One Drop will enable BARKA to form a troupe of actors which will be trained by Burkina’s top theatre artists, Espace Cultural Gambidi. After five weeks of training and rehearsal, this troupe will take the show on the road and perform 35 times in 9 villages and 18 schools in just two months, teaching families and students about clean water and proper hygiene and sanitation techniques. BARKA will also be able to purchase professional light and sound equipment to strengthen its future social art efforts and coach the people on how they as a community can create change.

All of this work signifies how much BARKA has grown over the years. Its unique methodology creates a positive change in the lives of the Burkinabé while preserving their culture – something much easier said than done. Ina & Esu's patience, gratitude, and admiration of the people have allowed them to grow in a direction that many other organizations cannot. Not to mention that after 10 years of joyfully working side by side, they have chosen to marry in Fada N’Gourma! Their spirit and open-mindedness have given them the capabilities to mobilize and motivate the Burkinabe to work with them to create change – proof that BARKA will continue to grow.

In light of World Water Day, the large achievements BARKA has made and in joyous celebration of the union between the two people who have made all of this happen, I would like to invite you to join me in making a financial contribution in honor of Ina and Esu’s marriage. There is no better way to show our appreciation of their hard work than providing BARKA with the capability to take its projects to the next level. Together, we will be able to positively change the lives of the Burkinabe by providing them with the clean water and necessary knowledge of hygiene to help them increase their standard of living and live long, healthy lives.


Kim Abuelhaj

US Volunteer Fundraising Coordinator

Water Accounting: water points in Boungou village.
Water Accounting: water points in Boungou village.
The Social Art Troupe during training last week.
The Social Art Troupe during training last week.
The BARKA Team in the Field
The BARKA Team in the Field

Right now we are in Burkina with our brothers and sisters and you are here with us.

BARKA has begun implementing the largest and most complex project in our history- providing water, sanitation & hygiene in 5 villages which will benefit 30,000 people. You help make it happen. We can't do it without you. Thank you for all your support. Barka!


To give you an idea of how BARKA's work is changing people's lives for the better, you need look no further than Tantiaka, the very first village where BARKA drilled a well in 2012. When we arrived, the community grew crops individually and only during the short rainy season. Now, thanks to the new community well which nearly 1000 individual donors like you helped to manifest, Tantiaka grows fresh green vegetables all year long! This not only prevents hunger, it also reduces malnutrition which is rampant in rural villages of Burkina Faso, especially in children under age 5. Villagers of Tantiaka were able to do this only after months of working with Kadidiatou "Tanti" Thiombiano, BARKA's field worker who speaks the local language of Gulimanchema, and who motivated the village women to take their own initiative and work together. When we visit Tantiaka as part of BARKA's ongoing monitoring and evaluation plan, the women gather to greet us with song and dance and always ask us to thank and bless the people from far away who cared enough about them to help their situation.


As BARKA stretches and grows, Rotary clubs from 4 continents, USAID, Winrock International, and One Drop Foundation have joined with us for this next project. We are gathered here in BARKA's new office space in Fada and for the first time in our organization's history have hired fulltime staff-- Pauline Ducreux, Peace Sarambe and Yoni Idrissa to help BARKA succeed in achieving the project's goals and objectives. What all this means is that BARKA is on new ground. Thanks to you we are seeing what began as one well in one village become many many wells in several villages with more on the way. In the coming months, our staff will be trained in a wide range of technical areas including more comprehensive monitoring & evaluation and "water accounting", a holistic measure of a community's true water needs for drinking, agriculture and animals.


Our success to this point has been based solely on determination. Persistence pays off! We are now reaping the rewards of years of hard work and laying the groundwork for what lay ahead. It began with support of family and a few friends. Today, our family of supporters is worldwide and people we've met along the way who have been touched by this work have stepped in beside us.  


As BARKA grows and takes on more responsibilities, our financial needs grow. With 2014 at an end, let us come together, all of us to ensure continued growth in 2015. The impact we're able to have is directly proportional to the financial support we receive. Since its inception, BARKA's work has been almost entirely supported by donations from individual donors. Please give as generously as you can in order to help the rural population of Burkina, often referred to as "the poorest of the poor", have a chance to thrive like we all deserve. Help us continue to grow our impact with a financial contribution today. Barka!


To make a secure online donation visit the BARKA project page on GlobalGiving 

Or to mail a donation, write a check to BARKA Foundation

and mail to: P.O. Box 2, Burlington, ME 04417


With love and gratitude,

Ina, Esu and The BARKA Foundation team  

Fada N'Gourma, Burkina Faso



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Organization Information

BARKA Foundation

Location: Burlington, ME - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Esu Anahata
Founder of BARKA foundation
Burlington, ME United States
$31,404 raised of $49,000 goal
438 donations
$17,596 to go
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