The water resources protection by delineating protection areas : the experience of the Water Agency Gourma


According to the report “State of Play (2001)”, the average annual potential of surface water resources in Burkina Faso is estimated at 8.6 billion m3, while the volume of groundwater reserves and infiltration is 32.43 billion m3. But we see that unlike groundwater resources, surface water resources are the best known, most accessible and widely used, but also the most exposed to pollution.

Since independence, Burkina Faso embarked on a major project to achieve mobilizing structures of these surface water to meet the water needs of populations.
According to “study the classification of dams in Burkina Faso” It now has about a thousand dams reservoirs with a water storage capacity of around 5.5 billion m3 per year equivalent to about 300 m3 per year per capita.
In the space of competence AEG, there are 137 dams of which 81 retained. But there is today a degradation of the infrastructure mainly due to human activities and to a lesser extent to the natural action.

Human actions are bad in the sense that :

  • The man, practicing agriculture on the banks and in the bed of dams, scours the land surfaces that are more compact because having been stirred ; pickled materials and compounds in their great majority of furniture elements, gravel, pebbles, etc., are carried by runoff and settle by gravity to the bottom of the reservoir, thus causing the phenomenon of silting. Thus, the more runoff is turbid, more siltation accelerated. This is seen for example in dams No. 1 and No. 2 of the city of Ouagadougou, where just invest season market garden beds of such dams are to practice their activities.
  • Moreover, some farmers use chemicals (pesticides) that are often not approved by the Sahelian Committee on Pesticides. This is the case of the Synexa and Phostaxin. These products are also carried along together soil particles moved and dumped in reservoirs of water runoff.
  • Another major source of pollution also, gold panning. Indeed the miners in their quest for gold, use of hazardous materials such as cyanide and mercury. These products are mishandled no to separate gold from ore, with abundant water use, very often even the adjacent river to operating areas. Direct discharges of mercury in liquid form in the amalgamation of gold operations concentrated in soils are subsequently leached by runoff. This promotes the mobilization and dispersion of heavy metals into the environment, especially in surface water (rivers, lakes, dams and reservoirs) and groundwater by infiltration.

Burkina Faso, in the need to preserve and sustain water resources in quantity and quality, adopted February 8, 2001 the Orientation Law on water management. The adoption of this law marks a watershed in the water management in Burkina because it comes through a set of application Decree (example : Decree No. 2005-193 PRES / PM / MAHRH / MFB with procedures determination of the limits of the public domain dependencies water, Decree No. 2006- 58 / PRES / PM / MAHRH / MECV / MATD / MFB / MS determination of bearing protection plans and river areas) supervise all actions that contribute to preserving the quantity and quality of water.
It is on the basis of these legal foundations in accordance with one of its missions is to fight against pollution and protection of aquatic environments that the Water Agency Gourma undertook the delineation of protection perimeters dams of Lorgho and Koaré.


The delimitation of a protection perimeter around is to define the chosen area identified a band or a distance of 100 meters beyond the edge of the shore party of the Plan of the High Water (PHE) and ban within this space all activities, installations and deposits may cause a type of pollution to make the water unfit. This well defined area is physically embodied by the firewall, hedges, tags, posts or any other appropriate means.

In practical terms, and in accordance with Chapter 2 of Decree No. 2005-193 PRES / PM / MAHRH / MFB concerning procedures for determining the limits of the public domain dependencies water, delineation of boundaries is done in steps following :
First, the proposed delimitation of dependencies is prepared by the limits of space management body in which is retained under the authority of the governor region coordinator of the procedure.
The space management organization is supported in this work by a boundary commission. This commission also includes the Regional Director in charge of water, regional directors responsible for the areas of health, environment, agriculture Maps, topography or their representatives.

  • The boundaries commission, supported by a consultant, performing the identification of the element
  • The identification of the nature and tenure status of the land affected by the delimitation
  • Proposals limit dependencies of this element are set after interpretation of hydrometric data, hydrogeological, hydrological and geomorphological.
  • For this purpose and establishes a report on the demarcation of the dependencies of the element concerned the public domain water.

The space management organization concerned once the draft report of the boundaries commission completed, submit it to the basin area of the opinion of the Committee. The project boundary possibly modified by the management body to reflect the Basin Committee’s view then the subject of a file submitted to a public inquiry.
At the end of the public inquiry, a draft order of delimitation is developed by the space management organization considered and forwarded to the governor who finally Coordinator submits to the Regional Council for its opinion.
The boundaries commission always with the support of the consultant then performs the physical materialization of restraint which consists firstly in identifying the major bed or lower limit of the dam during floods,
Then a distance of 100 meters is shifted from a point of the floodplain to mark the upper limit defined in the scope of protection.
Finally these two limits are materialized using objects or any signs marking followed by taking their geographic coordinates. A straight curve is then drawn from both sides and parallel to the lower limit or the flood plain during high water. The terminals or hedges or through the firewall are then placed throughout this straight curve to materialize although the scope of protection. In the case of dams and Kouaré Lorgho the matérailisation protection areas was made by reinforced concrete terminal (dosed at 350kg / m3) ; it is the total of fifty (50) terminals (spaced on average 100 meters) fifteen centimeters (15 cm) in diameter and two (02) meters in height and painted white and red that have been set.


The delineation of protection zones is a complex task since, firstly, it requires a lot of time (over 12 months) and, on the other hand, makes use of various expertises. But the major difficulty remains the skepticism of local populations, particularly landowners who see this delimitation, another form of expropriation of their land. They think that once the defined area, they will be prohibited from any activity or even to live there. Fear and rejection of these populations are rooted in the fact that they have surrendered much of their land for the realization of the work, and then they are asked to drop by one hundred to one hundred and fifty meters of the reservoir water. A sense of insecurity seems born land, land gold is the material basis of agricultural production for populations chiefly on agriculture.
Beyond these fears of the local population, there is the real problem of taking into account sufficient or not social aspects during feasibility studies. Thus, when the concerns of the population are not well identified and taken into account since the studies to implementation and maintenance of infrastructure, disputes and mistrust can arise at any stage whatsoever. It is therefore imperative to solve this problem at the project design to avoid anything that officers conduct outreach activities to the work of boundaries to work in difficult conditions. In addition, field agents will have access to documents including the feasibility study of dams subject to protection areas delimitations. Thus, the sensitization may be directed to the least discussed aspects and treated

In addition, delineation of protection perimeters around dams can not be limited to the physical location of terminals. In other words, the location of terminals is not an end in itself. Indeed, dams have been delineated and bounded without that objectives are achieved. It seems important to stress here the case of the Ziga dam which was the subject of a workshop on 11 and 12 April 2013 in Ziniaré. It is a vocation AEP dam and was bounded, bounded but unfortunately human activities including market gardening and grazing animals are sadly observed and recorded on the bank of the dam. This is also a very different questions on the issue of development actions where the only physical realization is not sufficient to achieve a goal that was assigned at the beginning of the project. There is always this awareness raising, population approach to better understand and identify their concerns so that they join voluntarily and consciously to action.
In the competence of the AEG space, difficulties in delineating protection perimeters are much more related to people. Indeed, the agents committed to this activity met with individuals who oppose categorically refused an agent traverses their lands for topographical surveys and pillar emplacement. At another site, the populations simmering latent conflict on fatherhood land to be give to delineation. All these difficulties are not part of a technical debate, but rather in Social poorly resolved at some level.

We are therefore faced with the problem of land tenure which happens to be at the heart of development activities for a mainly agricultural population. For the realization of this infrastructure, people must yield their land for the common cause. They are thus vulnerable in terms of land available for agriculture, their main activity. So give back part of their land for delimitation is not well received or understood and even if they do not doubt the validity of this measure of restraint protection.

That is why it is important for the realization of works of a certain size, the achievement of the protection areas is provided in the contract business for the phase of engineering design studies to carry out the work.
The delimitation of withholding water protections perimeters by the company AEG has had the desired effect in that no new occupation was found in the defined area. Better, some players confronted in recent years with floods request that their dam was demarcated. This is the case of the village of boudieri.
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Water Agency of Gourma
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Tel : 24 77 68 17 ; 24 77 07 38