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IWRM journey into Africa

Katie Spooner travels from the United Kingdom, via Australia's IWC Master of Integrated Water Management, to Burkina Faso, West Africa.

After a fantastic year in Australia learning the basics of integrated water management, I decided to undertake a research project that would allow me to use some of the skills I had learnt.

Having worked in the WASH sector previously I contacted the organisation I used to work for and asked if they had any projects relating to governance and policy as this was an area I was particularly interested in during the course.

They suggested a research project that would look at the capacity of local government in terms of implementing the national IWRM policy in Burkina Faso and tools that they as an NGO could use to support this program, ultimately the research would feed into a program for community based water research management.

Katie Spooner 3I had spent time in Burkina Faso before, but living there was a whole new challenge. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 177 out of 182 in the 2009 human development index. It has been challenging overcoming the language barrier (Burkina Faso is a French speaking country), the non-existent public transport, the informal structure of the rapidly growing city and adapting to day to day activities. However I have quickly learnt to love my temporary home of Ouagadougou, and in a country with so few resources it is clear that its greatest is the Burkinabe themselves. The city bustles with activity as people create livelihoods, share experiences through theatre, music and art, and face the challenges of regional instability, power cuts and poverty with humour, empathy and dignity.

While Burkina faces serious challenges for water in the future, the country is strategically addressing the problems through regional coordination, tactical partnerships, knowledge development and an enabling environment for learning. I have already learnt a great deal from my experiences here, and I hope that my research will, in some small way, contribute to resolving the water management challenges of this vibrant country.


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