Water resources management constitutes a priority area in Burkina Faso’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in general, and food security and poverty reduction in particular.
In May 2011, during the Volta Basin Development Challenge (VBDC)’s inception workshop, stakeholder consultative meetings were conducted. The event provided the VBDC research team a window of opportunity to establish and strengthen links with relevant existing programs and initiatives, both in Burkina Faso and Ghana. As a follow up to last year’s meetings, the VBDC organized a National Consultative Forum on Agricultural Water Management in Burkina Faso on February 14th 2012. This meeting aimed at informing participants about the progress of VBDC research, sought feedback and explored the feasibility of the establishment of a multi-faceted permanent national consultative platform on agricultural water management (to address agriculture, animal husbandry, environment, funding, etc.). The VBDC views such a platform as an integral avenue for the uptake of the VBDC research results in the future.
Overall, the meeting lived up to our hopes. The initiative was fully backed up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources; hence, the meeting was convened by one of its agencies, the Directorate General for Water Resources (DGRE). All but one institution invited were represented at the meeting, which brought together 35 representatives from research, civil society, donor, and government organizations.
The introduction of and its ongoing research project activities triggered a lot of discussions but the key points raised and debated upon were related to (i) the use of local knowledge in the VBDC research process; (ii) the effective use of lessons learnt/outcomes from previous similar initiatives (iii) the coherence of VBDC research projects, given that most of them are working in different sites; and, (iv) the capitalization of the VBDC research results for purposes of uptake.
Conclusions and recommendations that emerged from this first National Consultative Forum on Agricultural Water Management in Burkina Faso are summarized below.
The participants were appreciative of the VBDC multi-stakeholder approach to small reservoirs and rainwater management. They commended the relevance of its research for addressing some challenges of agricultural water management in the Volta Basin, namely:
- consideration of farmers’ constraints (as evidenced in the participatory approach adopted by VBDC projects);
- the promotion of value chain innovation platforms of that contribute to increased stakeholder accountability and engagement;
- the promotion and up-scaling of good practices in agricultural water management;
- the adoption of a multi-scale approach for agricultural water management; and,
- the development of tools for implementing IWRM initiatives.
The participants suggested that the VBDC research should strengthen its links with existing initiatives in agricultural water management to avoid duplicates on the ground as well as to facilitate the uptake of its results. In addition, the program was encouraged to:
- establish a joint VBDC steering committee (including both Burkina Faso and Ghana);
- work in synergy with the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources to be well informed about ongoing programs and initiatives in agricultural water management at a national level;
- develop a strategy for the sustainability of its research results;
- contribute to build the capacities of water management institutions;
- strengthen communication with policy-makers;
- work more on the management of water use conflicts;
- further integrate women in the implementation of the CPWF; and,
- use the experiences of other basins (e.g. Ganges) to propose innovative techniques and solutions on agricultural water management.
Finally, the VBDC team has been tasked with helping to set up a permanent consultative platform on agricultural water in Burkina Faso that will include all competing users of water resources. We are currently working with the Directorate for Facilities and Irrigation Development (Direction des Aménagements et du Développement de l’Irrigation, DADI), another agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, to accomplish this task. Most of the other recommendations we received are relevant for improving rainwater and small reservoirs management for livelihoods in the Volta Basin (which echoes our development challenge), and we will look to integrate these suggestions where possible in the remaining period of the program.