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Pauline steps out of her house and walks for less than a minute before reaching the well where she pumps water for her family of nine. Known for having a clean home, she was selected by the village committee to be responsible for keeping the well clean too.

However, three years ago, the picture was very different for Pauline.

Pauline cleaning the local well in Tibtenga
Water scarcity

At that time there was no well just outside her house. In fact, to get water would take her around half a day, travelling by bike or donkey and cart to then wait for hours before drawing water.

At the height of the dry season, when the weather was particularly hot and the well crowded with people desperate for water, the process could take a whole day. Sometimes she would leave at two in the morning to avoid the crowds and the inevitable arguments.

Sometimes she’d return without any water at all.

And that was just the dry season. In the rainy season, flooding would make the journey nearly impossible, so she resorted to collecting water directly from the river.


There were many diseases, we knew they were due to the water we were drinking.

- Pauline.

To make things more complicated, water was becoming more and more scarce, leaving less for irrigating fields, watering animals and for her family’s basic needs.

Perhaps least of all these problems, she didn’t have enough water to clean her home. Life was tough and dirty.

A growing population

Oussénni Kouraogo, who managed the BRACED programme for partner ATAD in the Sanmatenga and Namatenga provinces of the centre-north region of Burkina Faso, noted that the need for water in Tibtenga, Pauline’s village, was especially high thanks also to a rapidly growing population.

ATAD constructed eight wells in this region (a total of 34 wells were dug across the whole BRACED programme for over 3000 households) in order to reduce conflicts around water resources.

The value and success of water resources projects such as this is clear, but the demand for wells is even greater. And the cost of such projects is also significant. To ensure their longevity, each community collects a small maintenance fee from the well’s users, according to their means, for repairs and maintenance.

- Oussénni Kouraogo, Head of the BRACED programme, ATAD.

A man stands next to his livestock drinking from a water hole in Tiptenga, Burkina Faso
A new reason to stand tall

After the new well was built, the change in Pauline’s life was dramatic. Now that her family had a guaranteed supply of clean water and the time required to fetch it was much reduced, they began to thrive.

In the afternoons, Pauline was able to start making food and drink to sell. Despite the poor rainfall last season that affected their harvest, this extra income allowed her to comfortably buy the cereals needed to feed her family.

As the basic needs and security of her family began to improve, Pauline began to develop a new reputation and a new reason to stand tall.

Pauline in her village of Tibtenga surrounded by her children

Data snapshot

Pauline's access to water improved significantly with the introduction of a well in her village. However, most low-income women experienced a decrease in water access of 17% by the end of the BRACED programme. This may be attributable to the onset of severe drought in 2016 which put added pressure on water supplies.

In the past, I didn't have time to take care of my household because of fetching water far away from the village. Now that water is close to my house, my household is clean.

- Pauline.

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