The village of Kamsi, located in the Sahel Region in Burkina Faso, had approximately 4,600 people when we began our work there in 2014. Elders had noted that there had been less rain falling over the past decades resulting in greater crop loss and disputes over water. The community engaged CBG to help them figure out a solution.


We first gathered satellite image information to track the presence of water and determine the surface elevation and runoff courses. Information on the topography, slope and direction of the elevation are important for site selection and design, as the basin is designed to collect runoff inflow during the rainy season. This collected rainwater helps to raise the water table to help ensure that wells stay full year-round. This data helped us to determine the best possible locations for constructing a rainwater catchment basin, and we confirmed this with village leaders and elders who were knowledgeable about distance factors, environmental challenges, access and cost.

Using Ground GPS information, we mapped site boundaries and long-term meteorological data to project rainfaill and variable climate change emission scenarios to make sure that not only was our site the best for present day, but it would continue to serve the community for years to come.


The initial basin was designed by Burkinabe engineers, constructed by the villagers, and had a capacity of 3,000 cubic meters of water. We then configured a drip irrigation system that was fed from the basin and powered by solar panels. The project was so successful that as the community continued to grow, they had us help them add a second, larger basin with a 6,000 cubic meter capacity. Villagers were trained in how to care for the basin and solar panels in order to create a wholly sustainable product after CBG’s involvement had ended.


There have been several significant outcomes of this project. First, having reliable year-round water for irrigation has spurred agricultural activity and provided more jobs. Some produce is sold at market increasing the area’s economic activity. Additionally, because wells are full year-round, children—and in particular girls—whose job it is to collect water do not have to travel as far, allowing for more time to go to school. These three core impacts have helped to promote a greater sense of stability in the community.

“Before CBG came, it was hard. There was no water. I have four children. My teenage boys and husband lived in Ivory Coast where they had work. My two girls and me had to walk 3 hours every day to get water.” She continues: “Then Community Building Group came and showed us what to do.”


“I am the head of the women’s food cooperative. Haoua and Laeticia met with all of us. We talked about how to build a water basin, where to put it, how to use the water, what to plant, keeping the animals away, and talking and talking. We did everything. And together we finished this rainwater basin. As soon as the rains came, we had water – and we still have water!!”


“Look at our garden! We are growing onions, tomatoes, and bananas. We have a market three times each week. Our daughters are going to school. Having water makes us really happy.”


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