Environmental Management

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 695–711 | Cite as

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

  • Carla RoncoliEmail author
  • Paul Kirshen
  • Derek Etkin
  • Moussa Sanon
  • Léopold Somé
  • Youssouf Dembélé
  • Bienvenue J. Sanfo
  • Jacqueline Zoungrana
  • Gerrit Hoogenboom


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.


Irrigated agriculture Adaptive management Climate variability and change Decision support systems Water policy Participatory research Burkina Faso 



The authors acknowledge helpful input by Kate Dunbar, Carrie Furman, Richard Marcus, Don Nelson, Joel Paz, Ben Orlove, Michael Paolisso, and Renzo Taddei; and also the constructive comments of three anonymous reviewers. We thank Joel Paz, Latosha Clark, Patrick Florence and Michael Gove for help with the images. We are grateful to Thomas Painter and Saïdou Sanou who did the preliminary study on which this project was subsequently built. This study was supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sectoral Applications Research Program as a continuation of the Climate Forecasting and Agricultural Resources (CFAR) Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla Roncoli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul Kirshen
    • 2
  • Derek Etkin
    • 3
  • Moussa Sanon
    • 4
  • Léopold Somé
    • 4
  • Youssouf Dembélé
    • 4
  • Bienvenue J. Sanfo
    • 5
  • Jacqueline Zoungrana
    • 6
  • Gerrit Hoogenboom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Agricultural EngineeringUniversity of GeorgiaGriffinUSA
  2. 2.Battelle Memorial InstituteLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Camp Dresser McKee (CDM)CambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Institut de l’Environnement et des Recherches Agricoles 01OuagadougouBurkina Faso
  5. 5.Direction de la MétéorologieOuagadougouBurkina Faso
  6. 6.Direction Générale des Ressources en EauOuagadougouBurkina Faso

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