Small rainwater catchment basins provide an innovative solution to water scarcity in rural Burkina Faso. Properly constructed, catchment basins assure that water is available throughout the year, providing opportunities to increase agricultural production, improve villagers' health, and create local employment.
The village of Ramongo has population of 2,500 that is almost entirely dependent upon agriculture. Subsistence production takes place during the 5-month rainy reason and is constrained by water shortages. Precipitation is highly variable from year to year, averaging less than 28 inches annually. Even during years of abundant rainfall, wells eventually dry up. Without water, there is little or no work. Young girls trek up to 3 hours each day to fetch water. They have no time to go to school.
The "Give Water, Give Life" (GWGL) initiative was recently launched to animate the local population. This initiative is directed by village leaders and is supported by Association Zod Noogo, a local NGO that supervised building a basin in Sisene. Student engineers and a cadre of external volunteers are committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise throughout the life of the GWGL project. Satellite imagery technology will be harnessed to pinpoint the optimal location for the catchment basin.
The basin will enable villagers to gain access to a ready-supply of water, both at the catchment area and in local wells because the basin raises the water table. The agricultural growing season will be lengthened and production diversified as more water becomes available and opportunities to irrigate arise. Locally grown produce and the emergence of fishing and livestock industries promise to improve nutritional intake of village residents, increase income, and opens up export opportunities.