In-depth: Food and nutrition crisis in Niger and the Western Sahel
BURKINA FASO: Boost for garden drip irrigation
Young man rinses his face from a pipe used to water onions in Bani, northern Burkina Faso (file photo). In many areas water shortages spoil home gardens
OUAGADOUGOU, 26 July 2010 (IRIN) - It is raining in Burkina Faso - flooding in some areas - but aid workers and rural families are preparing for the dry season, when water shortages tend to kill off home gardens.
Helen Keller International (HKI) is set to distribute household drip irrigation kits to some 300 families in eastern Burkina Faso who are planting gardens as part of an HKI programme to boost consumption of essential nutrients.
While drip irrigation is used increasingly in commercial farms it is not widely used in individual gardens. “But given the water shortages, to continue encouraging families to grow and eat nutritious foods we are introducing this technique for home gardens,” HKI’s Olivier Vebamba told IRIN.
“The production period is limited in some villages because water is inadequate to meet the populations’ needs,” HKI country director Ann Tarini-Hien told IRIN.
“Lack of water is a significant problem in Burkina,” she said. “Water points are few and distant, the water table is low - and lower in the dry season - and people’s needs increasingly compete with animals’ needs.”
When asked about health and nutrition in Burkina most aid workers and residents immediately point to the lack of water.
Residents of Louta, 50km from the border with Mali, told IRIN water shortages more than anything else were stifling the village’s development.
Across the Sahel lack of water - due to climate conditions as well as poor infrastructure - hits agriculture, hygiene and nutrition.
HKI did a trial of the household drip irrigation kits in Burkina in 2008. The trial showed that one of the method’s biggest advantages is water conservation, according to HKI’s Vebamba, who worked on the project.
For a garden of 20 square metres the drip irrigation used 40 litres of water per day, while 240 litres is needed with the watering cans villagers normally use, he said.
Hama Arba Diallo, mayor of Dori, Burkina Faso, and chairman of the West Africa branch of the Global Water Partnership
, said drip irrigation has promise “in these areas where there is less and less water”, but expanding the method will take time and resources.
“It is expensive to install the materials needed for drip irrigation, and most people do not have the means,” he told IRIN. “It is a question of making the materials and knowledge more widely accessible.”
Diallo spoke to IRIN during a meeting of West African water experts and educators aimed at reinforcing water management and engineering curriculums in the region’s universities.