Aid organisations in Burkina Faso have denounced a new strategy adopted by terrorist insurgents. At least 32 water facilities in the country have been destroyed, leaving 300,000 without water.
These attacks have been intended to not just physically destroy water reservoirs, but also to sabotage water generators and to contaminate drinking water.
Civilians in the Sahel region of the country are left with a 3 litre daily average of water after these attacks, which as compared to Europeans’ 150 litre daily average. The UN considers a 15-20 litre average to be the minimum in emergency situations and a 7 litre absolute, temporary minimum for survival.
Hassane Hamadou, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Burkina Faso, said: ““Disrupting civilians' access to water is no longer a mere by-product of the conflict, it has become a weapon of war and marks a new, despicable turn in violence. For the sake, dignity and survival of an already exhausted population, this war on water must stop.”
These difficulties in accessing water force the local population to search for water points which are often quite far. These daily trips expose them to even more violence with reports of attacks being common.
Rebecca Bouchet-Petersen, Country Director for Solidarités International in Burkina Faso, says: “The conflict is now putting at risk the very thing no one can live without: clean water. Civilians in Djibo were already facing alarming shortages of food and medicine, now they are going thirsty too. Considering all the health risks associated with drinking unsanitary water, temperatures averaging 40C and challenging road access, Djibo sits on the brink of humanitarian disaster.”
Terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have killed thousands and caused the displacement of 1.5 million since the 2015 insurgency.