, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 695-711

From Management to Negotiation: Technical and Institutional Innovations for Integrated Water Resource Management in the Upper Comoé River Basin, Burkina Faso

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Abstract

This study focuses on the potential role of technical and institutional innovations for improving water management in a multi-user context in Burkina Faso. We focus on a system centered on three reservoirs that capture the waters of the Upper Comoé River Basin and servicing a diversity of users, including a sugar manufacturing company, a urban water supply utility, a farmer cooperative, and other downstream users. Due to variable and declining rainfall and expanding users’ needs, drastic fluctuations in water supply and demand occur during each dry season. A decision support tool was developed through participatory research to enable users to assess the impact of alternative release and diversion schedules on deficits faced by each user. The tool is meant to be applied in the context of consultative planning by a local user committee that has been created by a new national integrated water management policy. We contend that both solid science and good governance are instrumental in realizing efficient and equitable water management and adaptation to climate variability and change. But, while modeling tools and negotiation platforms may assist users in managing climate risk, they also introduce additional uncertainties into the deliberative process. It is therefore imperative to understand how these technological and institutional innovations frame water use issues and decisions to ensure that such framing is consistent with the goals of integrated water resource management.