Agriculture, Water, Climate and Migration in semi-arid lands in Burkina Faso


PRISE research area 7, on Water Governance in semi-arid lands in a changing climate, has studied how agricultural communities in the semi-arid central plateau of Burkina Faso – an area of high food insecurity – are managing available water and land resources in changing climatic conditions.

The study focused on eight villages in the zone around the Ziga dam and reservoir, some 50 kilometres north-east of the capital, Ouagadougou. The quantitative survey and focus group discussions conducted by the project reveal that these communities are managing by ‘exporting’ for six months of the year their prime male labour force to take part in agriculture elsewhere. This English-language report describes the nature of agriculture in the surveyed villages, the climatic and other conditions which community members are experiencing and the levels of migration and its drivers, including lack of water for irrigation.  The study considers the role and perspectives of women in the communities whose husbands, brothers and sons are away for many months of the year.

The report supports the case for investment by the government and donors in small dams/ponds to allow rural communities to supplement rain-fed with irrigated agriculture. That investment would be part of strengthening national capacity for water storage by mobilising a combination of small and larger reservoirs – a mix of complementary storage options. The study recommends that more such small-scale infrastructure is needed in Burkina Faso, where local conditions are suitable, accompanied by support to farmer organisations, including guidance on infrastructure maintenance as well as training on marketing.




Image: A woman drives a donkey cart loaded with firewood back to the village, Burkina Faso – by Ollivier Girard/CIFOR

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