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Burkina Faso: Turning the Water on in Burkina Faso's Capital

Last Updated: August 2009
Turning the Water on in Burkina Faso's Capital City


The supply of clean drinking water was quickly running out in Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou. The problem was that the public water service (The National Water and Sanitation Utility-ONEA), couldn’t keep up with the demands of a surging population. The city’s population had more than doubled between 1985 and 2000. With only 30 percent of the city’s population connected to the water system, the government knew it had to act fast. It had to make more water available to the city’s residents and strengthen the management of its urban water sector to ensure a stable and efficient supply.


- Develop new storage capacity to ensure a steady supply of water.
- Expand coverage by extending secondary and tertiary water distribution networks and by providing connections to low-income households.
- Promote efficiency by strengthening ONEA’s capacity while using a service contract with an international water operator to manage ONEA's commercial, financial, and accounting operations.


Thanks to the project, the number of Ouagadougou residents with household connections to piped water more than tripled in six years, from 300,000 in 2001 to 1,040,000 people in 2007. A full 94 percent of the city’s population1,480,000 peoplenow has access to safe water.

- Full-pressure water service is now ensured at all times. In 2001, it was chronically intermittent and weak.
- ONEA’s accounting is in order: the annual financial reports are on time and in accordance with international standards.
- The bill collection ratio has increased from 86 percent in 2001 to 95.4 percent in 2007; and unaccounted-for-water (UFW) was stabilized at 18 percent, which compares well to the best performing water utilities in SSA.
- The financial equilibrium of the urban water sector has been restored, and ONEA is able to recover its operating and maintenance costs, and its cash contribution to the capital expenditure program (Capex) from collected bills.- The cash flow of the sector doubled from CFAF3 billion (US$6 million) in 2001 to CFAF6 billion in 2006 (US$12 million, representing 30 percent of sales).
- There has been a jump in the staff productivity index, which far exceeded the target of 230 connections per employee initially set for 2007 (the figure now stands at 810 connections).
- A 2007 survey of ONEA customers found that 85 percent of them were highly satisfied with their water service.


Of the total project cost of US$269.37, IDA’s contribution was $85.97 million in the form of an IDA credit.

IDA partners in the project were the African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), OPEC Fund for International Development, ONEA: Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement, Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Kuwait Fund for Arab and Economic Development (KFAED), European Development Fund, French Development Agency (AFD), and the West African Development Bank (WADB).

- While assembling the technical and institutional features of the project, the IDA team addressed social and environmental aspects as well. Drawing on lessons from earlier projects in the region, they found the major risk factors then proposed ways to mitigate them.

- Because of IDA’s long experience in similar multi-donor sector reform operations, its role was critical for the implementation of the sector reform. IDA was able to convene other donors around project preparation and funding, and guarantee the operation’s technical soundness. IDA knowledge was also put to work to ensure that governance and fiduciary issues were addressed.

Next Steps

An IDA-financed $US80 million follow-up operation is under preparation and scheduled for Board approval in May 2009.

In addition, with the support of the international donor community, Burkina Faso has prepared a National Water Supply and Sanitation Program (PN-AEPA) for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Donors (including IDA) will finance the program up to US$240 million over the period 2009–2015. This program will support post-completion operation of this project since IDA and other donors will continue to assist the urban water sector and ONEA until 2015.

Learn More

The Ouagadougou Water Supply Project (2001–2007)
Project Documents

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