Climate change and water security in West Africa - Niger and Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, Niger, Climate change
Image: WaterAid/Basile Ouedraogo

As part of a water and climate campaign, WaterAid West Africa has conducted two research studies on the impacts of climate change on water security in the region, focusing on Burkina Faso and Niger.

West Africa, particularly the Sahel, is a climate change hotspot. Temperatures have risen by 2°C since 1950, and annual rainfall has steadily decreased. In Niger, average temperatures are expected to increase by 2°C to 4.6°C by 2080.

Many people in West Africa still depend on surface water, such as rivers and ponds, for drinking, washing and cleaning, but these sources of water are often unreliable and easily contaminated. An evaluation of available water resources in Burkina Faso indicates that, with ever-increasing demands for water, the country is heading towards water scarcity. 

This situation affects key sectors that are important for development, such as agriculture, and endangers the wellbeing of more than 340 million people in the region. More than ever before, access to drinking water and sanitation remains a challenge for 40% and 60% of the population respectively. Meanwhile, a 3% growth in population in rural areas means that twice as much drinking water will be required in 25 years, and people who live in urban areas and rely on groundwater will become much more vulnerable due to rapid urbanisation.

However, governments and donors in West Africa do not recognise the crucial role that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) can play in adapting to climate change and making communities resilient to its impacts. This is why, as part of a water and climate campaign, WaterAid West Africa, has conducted two research studies of the impacts of climate change on water security in the region, focusing on Burkina Faso and Niger.

Through this report, WaterAid West Africa hopes to:

  • Encourage West African governments to include WASH in national climate adaptation plans and strategies as a critical line of defence against the impacts of climate change       
  • Provide key stakeholders and target groups with a clear understanding of the need to act on WASH and climate
  • Promote the allocation of climate finance towards programmes that ensure safe and sustainable water services
  • Receive commitments from member states, donor countries and development partners to include WASH in nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans
  • Position investment in WASH services as key to building resilience in communities affected by climate change.


Top image: Moustapha crouches on a sand dam, which has been constructed across the riverbed, in the village of Sablogo, Commune of Lalgaye, Koulpelogo, Burkina Faso. The sand dam is used to improve water retention and recharging of groundwater.