Pumped up: ORT breaks new ground with UNESCO water training in Burkina Faso


A team of ORT-backed trainees has for the first time taken part in a UNESCO-funded course on water provision in impoverished regions of Africa.

The six students joined the sessions in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, earlier this month to learn a range of hydrology skills.

The ORT group included three trainees from Burkina Faso and three from Senegal. The three-week course for 30 specialists was part of a UNESCO program dedicated to providing global access to water.

Avi Ganon, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “Our international co-operation projects have always been of great importance. We have believed in empowering people and strengthening communities since 1880, and this program was a clear example of how we do that.

“We are passionate about unleashing potential so people can lead fulfilling lives and have a positive impact on the world around them. We have seen this embodied over the past three weeks in Ouagadougou.

“This is the first time UNESCO has funded the training of ORT students and we hope the program will lead to many more collaborative projects between ORT and UNESCO in the future.”

A pumping test takes place in Kamboinsi as part of the course

The hydrology technicians were taught how to help those living in small towns and villages to take full advantage of wells and irrigation facilities. They also learned about hydraulics, how to dig and manage wells, how best to utilise them for drinking and irrigation, and how to build and manage latrines as well as keep them clean and provide proper sanitation.

Theory lessons were followed by practical work and field trips to cover physical and technical aspects of hydrology such as aquifers, pipe calculations and hygiene.

The ORT-backed trainees had previously taken part in our international programs, and now work for NGOs in Burkina Faso and Senegal. Following the course they have returned to their towns and villages to provide solutions to water needs.

UNESCO is encouraging more women to work in this field, and the ORT group was made up of three men and three women.

Henri Levy, ORT’s permanent representative to UNESCO, said: “A person dies every seven seconds due to water related diseases. This staggering statistic emphasizes the urgency for mobilization.

“This course will enable the ORT trainees to master access to water in Africa, which remains largely conditioned by the existence of know-how on the ground to create new facilities, and above all to maintain them in good working order, share them and preserve their hygiene conditions.

“Digging wells is not enough, but they also need to be managed and used to the best of their ability.”

The trainees visit Mogtedo to view water and sanitation services

UNESCO’s water project is built on three key aims – providing relevant advice on the science behind water provision; educating on the growing needs of sustainable development; and assessing and managing water resources to achieve environmental sustainability.

It is hoped the ORT’s co-operation with UNESCO can now be expanded to English-speaking countries across Africa later in the year.