Local water management of small reservoirs: Lessons from two case studies in Burkina Faso

Hilmy Sally
International Water Management Institute, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso; h.sally@cgiar.org
Hervé Lévite
International Water Management Institute, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso; herve.levite@gmail.com
Julien Cour
Independent consultant, Toulouse, France; julien.cour@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Burkina Faso is actively pursuing the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in its development plans. Several policy and institutional mechanisms have been put in place, including the adoption of a national IWRM action plan (PAGIRE) and the establishment so far of 30 local water management committees (Comités Locaux de l'€™Eau, or CLE). The stated purpose of the CLE is to take responsibility for managing water at sub-basin level. The two case studies discussed in this paper illustrate gaps between the policy objective of promoting IWRM on one hand, and the realities associated with its practical on-the-ground implementation on the other. A significant adjustment that occurred in practice is the fact that the two CLE studied have been set up as entities focused on reservoir management, whereas it is envisioned that a CLE would constitute a platform for sub-basin management. This reflects a concern to minimise conflict and optimally manage the country'€™s primary water resource and illustrates the type of pragmatic actions that have to be taken to make IWRM a reality. It is also observed that the local water management committees have not been able to satisfactorily address questions regarding access to and allocation of water though they are crucial for the satisfactory functioning of the reservoirs. Water resources in the reservoirs appear to be controlled by the dominant user. In order to correct this trend, measures to build mutual trust and confidence among water users 'condemned' to work together to manage their common resource are suggested, foremost of which is the need to collect and share reliable data. Awareness of power relationships among water-user groups and building on functioning, already existing formal or informal arrangements for water sharing are key determinants for successful implementation of the water reform process underway.