A study into the financing of water projects in the fragile Liptako-Gourma region of the Sahel has paved the way for a dialogue on responses to the security crises in the area.
The study, commissioned by the Geneva Water Hub, reveals how water projects are deployed in fragile areas such as the Liptako-Gourma region against the background of a deterioration in the security situation and the emergence of a humanitarian crisis.
Underlying the study was the idea that water is a priority need for conflict-affected communities as well as a key to the revival of the rural economy. There is clear evidence of a willingness of the international community both to support the development efforts of the states in the region and to respond to humanitarian needs.
However, one of the key objectives of the study was to provide a unified overview of all the water related initiatives that were underway in this fragile area in 2020. The study inventoried a total of 575 budgetary commitments in the area consisting of 218 development projects and 357 flows of humanitarian support. The inventory drew conclusions about financial strategies in the field of water services and productive water uses. Furthermore, the study incorporated views of community leaders and actors on the current crisis, the existing support being provided, and the role that water could play as part of the solution to the current situation.
The researchers note that for projects dedicated to water and sanitation, there are significant geographical disparities: some 60% of budget allocations are for urban projects whereas 80% of the population on the region is rural.
Similarly, the budgets allocated for water and sanitation for the part of the region located in Mali were significantly less than those allocated for neighbouring areas in Burkina Faso. It was also noted that the total volume of funds dedicated to humanitarian aid represented no more than 10% of the volume of funds allocated for development projects, and that in general only 55% of funds requested for humanitarian aid were met by donors.
The authors note that many local actors are of the opinion that water plays a strategic role as an instrument of peace and international cooperation in the region, which needs to take place in an integrated fashion at the transboundary level. They recommend that interventions should take account of the role of local actors, should serve to strengthen local institutions, and need to be coordinated both amongst the various donors and between development and humanitarian projects.