Advertisement

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 573–585 | Cite as

Enough is enough: how West African farmers judge water sufficiency

  • Carla RoncoliEmail author
  • Ben Orlove
  • Christoph Ungemach
  • Brian Dowd-Uribe
  • Colin Thor West
  • Kerry Milch
  • Moussa Sanon
Original Article

Abstract

This article engages the concept of water literacy, coupled with photo-elicitation methods and long-term ethnographic research, to explore how West African farmers judge water sufficiency. The study focuses on the Upper Comoé river basin in southwest Burkina Faso, an area known for conflict among multiple water users. Pictures of familiar river sites were shown to farmers to explore how they determine whether water suffice to meet their irrigation and livelihood needs. The likelihood of finding water to be sufficient was influenced by who the respondents were (gender) and by where (downstream/upstream) and when (early/late dry season) the picture was taken. Farmers’ sufficiency judgments were framed as a cognitive and linguistic dichotomy that posits water as being either enough or not enough. They drew upon a diversity of indicators in the natural and built environment and hinged on salient attributes, such as the “face” and the “flow” of the water. These two attributes enabled farmers to determine the water’s “force,” a foundational cultural notion that blends material and spiritual considerations. Farmers’ assessments engage multiple time horizons, from memories of the past, to current observations and anticipated future scenarios. By relying upon shared memories and meanings, farmers can compare judgments, analyze options, and collectively mobilize to counteract the dominance of techno-scientific knowledge in official water allocation decisions.

Keywords

Environmental change Indigenous knowledge Small-scale irrigation Water literacy Visual methods Burkina Faso 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We appreciate the collaboration of the Agence Nationale de la Météorologie, the Institut National de d’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles, of the Secrétariat Permanente de la Gestion Intégrée des Ressource en Eau, and of the many stakeholders we engaged during years of research in the Upper Comoé sub-basin. We thank the farmers who participated in this study and Hamadou Issa Diallo, our exceptionally talented research assistant. We are grateful for the contribution of climate data by Dr. Pinghouinde Michel Nikiema and of linguistic advice by Dr. Karim Traoré. We also benefited from GIS work by Dr. Elisabeth Kago Nebié and graphic design by Kristin Tanis. Two anonymous reviewers provided insightful and constructive feedback.

Funding information

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Decision-Making Under Uncertainty program through a cooperative agreement with the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (NSF SES-0951516).

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1426_Fig3_ESM.png (50.7 mb)
Online Resource 1

(PNG 51911 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM1_ESM.tif (27.8 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 28450 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig4_ESM.png (55.7 mb)
Online Resource 2

(PNG 57077 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM2_ESM.tif (28.8 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 29511 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig5_ESM.png (32.8 mb)
Online Resource 3

(PNG 33631 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM3_ESM.tif (17.3 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 17689 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig6_ESM.png (48.9 mb)
Online Resource 4

(PNG 50115 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM4_ESM.tif (26.8 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 27451 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig7_ESM.png (42.8 mb)
Online Resource 5

(PNG 43874 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM5_ESM.tif (22.3 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 22871 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig8_ESM.png (56 mb)
Online Resource 6

(PNG 57390 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM6_ESM.tif (28.6 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 29276 kb)
10113_2018_1426_Fig9_ESM.png (39.7 mb)
Online Resource 7

(PNG 40606 kb)

10113_2018_1426_MOESM7_ESM.tif (21 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 21497 kb)
10113_2018_1426_MOESM8_ESM.pdf (66 kb)
Online Resource 8 (PDF 66 kb)

References

  1. Apotsos M (2016) Architecture, Islam, and identity in West Africa: Lessons from Larabanga. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Bernard HR (2006) Research methods in anthropology: quantitative and qualitative approaches. Altamira, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  3. Bignante E (2010) The use of photo-elicitation in field research: exploring Maasai representations and use of natural resources. EchoGéo 10:1–20. https://journals.openedition.org/echogeo/11622. Accessed 1 March 2018
  4. Boillat S, Berkes F (2013) Perception and interpretation of climate change among Quechua farmers of Bolivia: indigenous nolwedge as a resource for adaptive capacity. Ecol Soc 18(4):21.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-05894-180421 Google Scholar
  5. Brokington D (2017) Introduction. Environ Soc: Adv Res 8:1–7.  https://doi.org/10.3167/ares.2017.080101 Google Scholar
  6. Cameron R, Katzschner T (2017) Every last drop: the role of spatial planning in enhancing integrated urban water management in the City of Cape Town. S Afr Geogr J 99(2):196–216.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03736245.2016.1231622 Google Scholar
  7. Cherlet J, Venot JP (2013) Structure and agency: understanding water policy changes in West Africa. Water Policy 15(3):479–495.  https://doi.org/10.2166/wp.2013.086 Google Scholar
  8. Cochran P, Huntington O, Pungowiyi C, Tom S, Chapin FS III, Huntington H, Maynard N, Trainor S (2013) Indigenous frameworks for observing and responding to climate change in Alaska. Clim Chang 120(3):557–567.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0735-2 Google Scholar
  9. Cook C, Bakker K (2012) Water security: debating an emerging paradigm. Glob Environ Chang 22:94–102.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.10.011 Google Scholar
  10. Cour J (2010) Water management of the upper Comoé River basin, Burkina Faso. West Africa Irrigation Project (WAIPRO), International Water Management Institute, Ouagadougou. http://waipro.iwmi.org/Data/Sites/21/userfiles/189/documents1/waipro_jcour_uppercomoeenglishversion.pdf. Accessed 22 Feb 2018
  11. Direction Générale des Ressources en Eau (DGRE) 2013 Évolution des écoulement de la Haute Comoé. Ministère de l’Eau, des Aménagements Hydrauliques et de l’Assainissement, Burkina Faso. RapportGoogle Scholar
  12. Dowd-Uribe B, Sanon M, Roncoli C, Orlove B (2018) Grounding the nexus: examining the integration of small-scale irrigators into a national food security programme in Burkina Faso. Water Altern 11(2):375–393. http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol11/v11issue2/442-a11-2-9. Accessed 30 Jul 2018
  13. Etkin D, Kirshen P, Watkins D, Roncoli C, Sanon M, Somé L, Dembelé Y, Sanfo J, Zoungrana J, Hoogenboom G (2015) Stochastic linear programming for improved reservoir operations for multiple objectives in Burkina Faso, West Africa. J Water Res Plan Man.  https://doi.org/10.1061/40976%28316%29549
  14. Falkenmark M, Jägerskog A, Schneider K (2014) Overcoming the land-water disconnect in water scarce regions: time for IWRM to go contemporary. Int J Water Resour Dev 30(3):391–408.  https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2014.897157 Google Scholar
  15. Fernandéz-Llamazares A, Garcia R, Díaz-Reviriego I, Cabeza M, Pyhälä A, Reyes-García V (2017) An empirically tested overlap between indigenous and scientific knowledge of a changing climate in Bolivia Amazonia. Reg Environ Chang 17(6):1673–1685.  https://doi.org/10.1007/%2Fs10113-017-1125-5 Google Scholar
  16. Willis JR (1979) Studies in West African Islamic history, volume 1: the cultivators of Islam. Library edition. Frank Cass, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Garfin G, Scott CA, Wilder M, Varady RG, Merideth R (2016) Metrics for assessing adaptive capacity and water security: common challenges, diverging contexts, emerging consensus. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:86–89.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.11.007 Google Scholar
  18. Garrick DE, Hall JW, Dobson A, Damania R, Grafton QR, Hope R, Hepburn C, Bark R, Boltz F, De Stefano L, O'Donnell E, Matthews N, Money A (2017) Valuing water for sustainable development: measurement and governance must advance together. Science 358(6366):1003–1005.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao4942 Google Scholar
  19. Gearheard S, Pocernich M, Stewart R, Sanguya J, Huntington H (2010) Linking Inuit knowledge and meteorological station observation to understand changing wind patterns at Clyde River, Nunavut. Clim Chang 100(2):267–294.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-009-9587-1 Google Scholar
  20. Gober P, Strickert G, Clark D, Chun K, Payton D, Bruce K (2015) Divergent perspectives on water security: bridging the policy debate. Prof Geogr 67(1):62–71.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00330124.2014.883960 Google Scholar
  21. Gray D, Sadoff C (2007) Sink or swim? Water security for growth and development. Water Policy 9(6):545–571.  https://doi.org/10.2166/wp.2007.021 Google Scholar
  22. Hastrup K, Hastrup K (2015) Introduction: waterworlds at large. In: Hastrup K, Hastrup F (eds) Waterworlds: anthropology in fluid environments, Berghahn Books, p 1–22Google Scholar
  23. Hooli LJ (2016) Resilience of the poorest: coping strategies and indigenous knowledge of living with the floods in northern Namibia. Reg Environ Chang 16(3):695–707.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0782-5 Google Scholar
  24. Huntington H, Gearheard S, Mahoney H, Salomon A (2011) Traditional and scientific knowledge through collaborative natural science field research: identifying elements for success. Arctic 64(4):437–445.  https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic4143 Google Scholar
  25. Jackson S, Douglas M, Kennard M, Pusey B, Huddleston J, Harney B, Liddy L, Liddy M, Liddy R, Sullivan L, Huddleston B, Banderson M, McMah A, Allsop Q (2014) “We like to listen to stories about fish”: integrating indigenous ecological and scientific knowledge to inform environmental flow assessments. Ecol Soc 19(1):43.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-05874-190143 Google Scholar
  26. Kirchhoff C, Lara-Valencia F, Brugger J, Mussetta P, Pineda-Pablos N (2016) Towards joint consideration of adaptive capacity and water security: lessons from the arid Americas. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:22–28.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.10.003 Google Scholar
  27. Laidler G (2006) Inuit and scientific perspectives on the relationship between sea ice and climate change: the ideal complement? Clim Chang 78:407–444.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-006-9064-z Google Scholar
  28. Lebel L (2013) Local knowledge and adaptation to climate change in natural resource-based societies of the Asia-Pacific. Mitig Adap Strateg Glob 18(7):1057–1076.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-012-9407-1 Google Scholar
  29. Lemos MC, Manuel-Navarrete D, Willems BL, Caravantes RD, Varady R (2016) Advancing metrics: models for understanding adaptive capacity and water security. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:52–57.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.11.004 Google Scholar
  30. Lorillard M (2005) Plantations sucrières chez les paysans sénoufo de la Côte-d'Ivoire et du Burkina Faso. Études Rurales, 2005/3 n° 175–176, p 167–182. https://journals.openedition.org/etudesrurales/8207. Accessed 1 March 2018
  31. Lynch A, Griggs D, Joachim L, Salminen E, Heider C, Kestin T, Zhu X, Veland S (2017) Challenges of diverse knowledge systems in landscape analysis of the Murray-Darlin Basin, Australia. Reg Environ Chang 17:767–776.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-1069-1 Google Scholar
  32. Marin A (2010) Riders under storms: contributions of nomadic herders’ observa tions to analysing climate change in Mongolia. Glob Environ Chang 20:162–176.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2009.10.004 Google Scholar
  33. MCA-BF (Millennium Challenge Account-Burkina Faso) (2012) Rapport de l’état des lieux des ressources en eau dans le bassin de la Comoé Government of Burkina Faso and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) RFP/ 15/QCBS/RN142/AD91 November 2012Google Scholar
  34. Niang I., Ruppel OC, Abdrabo MA, Essel A, Lennard C, Padgham J, Urquhart P (2014) Africa. In: Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Barros VR, Field CB, Dokken DJ, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Bilir TE, Chatterjee M, Ebi KL, Estrada YO, Genova RC, Girma B, Kissel ES, Levy, MacCracken S, Mastrandrea PR, White LL (eds) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, p 1199–1265Google Scholar
  35. Nkhata B, Breen C (2016) Assessing and measuring adaptive capacity: the experiences of African countries in developing meaningful metrics for water management. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:9–14.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.10.008 Google Scholar
  36. Opare S (2017) Practising the past in the present: using Ghanaian indigenous methods for water quality determination in the contemporary era. Environ Dev Sustain 19:2217–2236.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-016-9851-2 Google Scholar
  37. Orlove B, Caton S (2010) Water sustainability: anthropological approaches and prospects. Annu Rev Anthropol 39:401–415.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.105045 Google Scholar
  38. Orlove B, Roncoli C, Dowd-Uribe B (2015) Fluid entitlements: constructing and contesting water allocations in Burkina Faso, West Africa. In: Hastrup K, Hastrup F (eds) Waterworlds: anthropology in fluid environments, Berghahn Books, p 46–74Google Scholar
  39. Orlove B, Roncoli C, Kabugo M, Majugu A (2010) Indigenous climate knowledge in southern Uganda: the multiple components of a dynamic regional system. Clim Chang 100(2):243–265.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-009-9586-2 Google Scholar
  40. Osbahr H, Dorward P, Stern R, Cooper S (2011) Supporting agricultural innovation in Uganda to respond to climate risk: linking climate change and variability with farmer perceptions. Exp Agric 47(2):293–316.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0014479710000785 Google Scholar
  41. Östberg W, Slegers MFW (2010) Losing faith in the land: changing environmental perceptions in Burunge country, Tanzania. J East Afr Stud 4(2):247–265.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2010.487335 Google Scholar
  42. Oyerinde G, Hountoundji F, Wisser D, Diekkrüger B, Lawin A, Odofin A, Afouda A (2015) Hydro-climatic changes in the Niger basin and consistency of local perceptions. Reg Environ Chang 15(8):1627–1637.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-014-0716-7 Google Scholar
  43. Rapinski M, Payette F, Sonnentag O, Herrmann TM, Royer MJ, Cuerrier A, Collier L, Hermanutz L, Guanish G, Elders of Kawawachikamach, Elders of Kangiqsualujjuaq, Elders of Nain (2018) Listening to Inuit and Naskapi peoples in the eastern Canadian Subarctic: a quantitative comparison of local observations with gridded climatic data. Reg Environ Change 18(1):189–203.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1188-3 Google Scholar
  44. Reenberg A (2015) Water literacy in the Sahel: understanding rain and groundwater In: Hastrup K, Hastrup F (eds) Waterworlds: anthropology in fluid environments, Berghahn Books. p 184–202Google Scholar
  45. Reyes-Garcia V, Fernández-Llamazares GM, Garcés A, Mallo M, Vila-Gómez M, Vilaseca M (2016) Local indicators of climate change: the potential contribution of local knowledge to climate research. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Change 7(1):109–124.  https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.374 Google Scholar
  46. Roncoli C, Dowd-Uribe B, Orlove B, West C, Sanon M (2016) Representation and accountability in decentralized water governance: the case of the upper Comoé sub-basin, Burkina Faso. Nat Res Forum 40(1–2):6–20.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1477-8947.12095 Google Scholar
  47. Roncoli C, Ingram K, Kirshen P (2002) Reading the rains: local knowledge and rainfall forecasting among farmers of Burkina Faso. Soc Nat Resour 15(5):411–430.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920252866774 Google Scholar
  48. Roncoli C, Kirshen P, Etkin D, Sanon M, Somé L, Dembélé Y, Hoogenboom G (2009) From management to negotiation: technical and institutional innovations for integrated water resource management in the upper Comoé River basin, Burkina Faso. Environ Manag 44(4):695–711.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-009-9349-x Google Scholar
  49. Roncoli C, Sendze M (1997) Visions and voices of Donsin: how farmers participate as photographers. Pract Anthropol 19(3):26–30.  https://doi.org/10.17730/praa.19.3.54t371k06435xv12 Google Scholar
  50. Sally H, Lévite H, Cour J (2011) Local water management of small reservoirs: lessons from two case studies in Burkina Faso. Water Altern 4(3):365–382. http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/volume4/v4issue3/147-a4-3-6. Accessed 22 Feb 2018
  51. Serdeczny O, Adams S, Baarsch F, Coumou D, Robinson A, Hare W, Schaeffer M, Perrette M, Reinhardt J (2017) Climate change impacts in sub-Saharan Africa: from physical changes to their social repercussions. Reg Environ Chang 17(6):1585:1600–1585:1600.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0910-2 Google Scholar
  52. Slegers MF (2008) “If only it would rain”: farmers’ Perceptions of rainfall and drought in semi-arid Central Tanzania. J Arid Environ 72(11):2106–2123.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2008.06.011 Google Scholar
  53. Stone GD (2007) Agricultural deskilling and the spread of genetically modified cotton in Warangal. Curr Anthropol 48(10):67–103.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2010.09.008 Google Scholar
  54. Su HJ, Chen MJ, Wang JT (2011) Developing a water literacy. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 3(6):517–519.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2011.10.010 Google Scholar
  55. Suresh A, Raju S, Chauhan S, Chaudhary RK (2014) Rainfed agriculture in India: an analysis of performance and implications. Indian J Agric Sci 84(11):1415–1422. http://epubs.icar.org.in/ejournal/index.php/IJAgS/article/view/44653. Accessed 1 March 2018
  56. Thapa B, Scott C, Wester P, Varady R (2016) Towards characterizing the adaptive capacity of farmer-managed irrigation systems: learnings from Nepal. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:37–44.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.10.005 Google Scholar
  57. van Noordwijk M, Kim Y, Leimona B, Hairiah K, Fisher L (2016) Metrics of water security, adaptive capacity, and agroforestry in Indonesia. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:1–8.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.10.004 Google Scholar
  58. Varady RG, Zuniga-Teran A, Garfin G, Martín F, Vicuña S (2016) Adaptive management and water security in a global context: definitions, concepts, and examples. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:70–77.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.11.001 Google Scholar
  59. WaterAid (2013) Strengthening WASH services and community resilience through community-based water resource management. Briefing Note, WaterAid, Burkina Faso. https://washmatters.wateraid.org/publications/strengthening-wash-services-and-community-resilience-through-community-based-water. Accessed 10 Aug 2018
  60. West CT, Roncoli C, Ouattara F (2008) Local perceptions and regional rainfall trends in the central plateau, Burkina Faso. Land Degrad Dev 19(3):289–304.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.842 Google Scholar
  61. Wilder M (2016) Metrics: moving beyond the adaptation information gap—introduction to the special issue. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 21:90–95.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2016.11.008 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.School of International and Public AffairsColumbia UniversityNew York CityUSA
  3. 3.TUM School of ManagementTechnical University of MunichMunichGermany
  4. 4.Department of International StudiesUniversity of San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  6. 6.Center for Research on Environmental DecisionsColumbia UniversityNew York CityUSA
  7. 7.Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches AgricolesOuagadougouBurkina Faso

Personalised recommendations