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Published on: 27/02/2013

From 14 to 16 January 2013 a three day workshop was held in Ouagadougou with different WASH sector stakeholders to discuss the new methods and approaches of monitoring water supply and sanitation services and to identify ways to scale up the service delivery approach at the national level for better access to water and sanitation services.

IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre is more than ever focused on advocating the adoption of innovative and more effective approaches to promoting access to safe water services for rural populations. This article, as well as otherspublished in 2012 in the Burkinabé newspaper, encourages measures that will improve water and sanitation services in Burkina Faso.

In his opening speech, Alassoun Sori, director of Water Supply at the General Directorate for Water Resources (DGRE), praised IRC interventions aimed at strengthening performances of the National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (PN-AEPA). M. Sori stressed that the purpose of IRC's action research project WASHCost is perfectly in line with the goals of the reform of the rural and peri-urban water supply infrastructures management system. This reform aims to ensure that users are in charge of managing water supply infrastructures, now and in the long run.

Juste Hermann Nansi, national coordinator of IRC Burkina Faso and facilitator of the discussions, emphasized that the project wasn't just meant to raise more funds to achieve better results in the rural water supply sector; it also seeks to improve the effectiveness of investments. M. Nansi further tried to explain what was at stake and which major issues should be considered by all participants: 'We have to realise the limitations of current methods of measuring access to safe water and understand what the numbers or rates actually mean. For instance, statistics show that in 2011 58.5% of the rural population had access to adequate water services.

What underlying facts are reflected by this figure? What information does it convey? If we analyse the findings we recognize that they may be influenced by different factors and that these are difficult to verify in the field.'

The first and main point is to acknowledge the limitations of current monitoring systems which also affect planning and prioritisation.The second important discussion point of this meeting is how to share the proposed new approach to measuring levels of service provided with all actors. This issue is being discussed at national and international levels, and we at IRC consider that it is necessary to redefine targets and the indicators used to monitor them. This is extremely important because, as long as we have not identified indicators that accurately represent key aspects of services provided to rural populations, the requirements of these populations will not be taken into account, and the investments made will not be used to meet their needs, to fulfill their expectations of a decent service.

According to M. Nansi, the meeting was another step in the process of improving sector performances engaged by his organisation since 2008. 'It is one of the steps toward building awareness among stakeholders of the situation and encouraging them to approve the new approaches and methods, so that they can be integrated into national policies and strategies.'


At the end of the first day of discussions, participants agreed on the following:

Statistical findings produced by the sector do not always reflect the reality on the ground, nor do they give an accurate indication of the actual quality of services provided. The figures do not allow to assess if populations effectively have access to 20 litres of quality controlled safe water per person per day, that is at reasonable distance in accordance with national standards, and if the service is reliable and sustained, as required by national standards.By adopting a service delivery approach, it will be possible to monitor the quantity and the quality of water provided, the distance to the water source and the reliability of the service. This will give a better picture of the actual level of water services in rural areas.These consensual observations prompted various suggestions for improving access of rural populations to adequate water and sanitation services.

Source:, 18 January 2013

By Grégoire B. BAZIE

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