By C.N. Staff Writer
Food, lighting and water are all life necessities that people in developed countries take for granted. In Burkina Faso, a developing country in Sub-Saharan Africa, water is limited due to the limited amount of rainfall the country receives. However, a Tampa, FL based non-profit, Community Building Group, Ltd. (CBG) is working to bring water to the West Central African country through its Give Water Give Life program.
The program was created and is led by Burkinabe people in the Central West region of Burkina Faso, just south of the Sahara Desert. The program seeks to build rainwater catchment basins, which can collect rainfall to sustain villages for an entire year. Currently Burkina Faso receives less than 28 inches of rainfall each year, or roughly three months, making water a scarce commodity.
CBG, Chairman of the Board, Phinis Jones held a fundraiser at the Congress Heights Arts and Cultural Center to raise awareness about the developing country and to raise funds to support building a new rainwater catchment basin in the Kamsi region. CBG has already built a rainwater catchment basin in the Sisene region back in 2012. Jones said, “This is a necessity that we Americans take for granted and our brothers and sisters in Western Africa are living without water. This is an important issue that we need to address and I’m taking the first step by bringing it to the D.C. community.”
Each basin holds 1.5 million gallons of water and the building and construction of them takes nearly two years and are built by local residents. Since the Sisene construction, the village rainwater catchment basin has been used for irrigating farms & gardens, raising livestock, constructing bricks and buildings, fishing, reforestation, and business development.
Seydou Traore, PhD., is a Burkina Faso native who is a partner working with the program and CBG. He attended the fundraiser and gave the presentation about the project and spoke about the first basin’s success and why people should donate to help build the next basin in Kamsi. Traore is helping the program with its irrigation system of development and has served as a liaison with the Government of Burkina Faso to help the project move forward. He said, “Your contributions go a long way and the people of Burkina Faso will forever be grateful.”
Traore also shared how the basin is opening up new avenues for the village. Give Water Give Life has goals beyond village rainwater catchment basins. Female children are under enrolled in schools due to their need to go and fetch water for their families. Culturally, it is the women and girl children who are tasked with accessing water for daily household use. Most often it is the girls between 6 and 13 years old that spend hours with their mothers walking up to four or more miles a day to carry water from remote collection points to their homes. And no electricity exists, but because of the catchment basins now 600 girls are free to go to school. Since the construction of the basin in Sisene, the village has seen overall attendance grow from 300 children to now 750 students.
Through the Solar Powered Lights for Girls Program, CBG is helping to have 24 condensed solar energy panels that can provide electric light to support the girls’ continued education studies.
Burkina Faso, as all the West African area, is subject to a continuous rainfall deficit since the beginning of the 1970 decade (Landsberg 1975; Dai et al. 2004). An analysis of the rainfall data from 1896 to 2006 in West Africa shows that the mean annual rainfall amount during the last four decades (1970–2009) remained lower than the mean annual rainfall recorded during the period 1900–1970 (Mahe and Paturel 2009). This continuous rainfall deficit is detrimental to the socio-economic situation because the population’s main activities, agriculture and livestock, depend strongly on the rainfall amount fallen during the rainy season. Every rainfall deficit is synonymous with a drop in crop yields and a deficit of food.