‘Times are changing’ in Burkina Faso and local governments are realising their role in taking climate action

Posted on : 5 October 2019

In Burkina Faso, the local people are generally not familiar with the concept of climate change. But in a sense they’re more aware of its impact than elsewhere in the world. Here, people use the expression ‘times are changing’, to refer to the changing weather conditions, the increased unpredictability of precipitation and the intensity of droughts and rainfalls. They have first-hand knowledge of climate change and the need to take climate action regardless of its presence in their vocabulary.

In July this year, ICLEI Africa and GIZ spent a week unpacking these challenges and finding action points in Burkina Faso’s two largest cities: the capital of Ouagadougou and the second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso. This mission formed part of the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), which aims to support local authorities to fight against climate change and its impact, and to ensure their access to sustainable and clean energy by tackling three main pillars namely climate mitigation, climate adaptation and access to energy.

The main goals of this mission were to meet with local authorities and potential stakeholders to identify potential infrastructure projects, to gain a better understanding of the governance and financial landscape of the country and to meet with cities interested in developing their own Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plans (SEACAPs).

Fuelling the need for action in the capital

The mission started in the capital city, Ouagadougou, with a series of bilateral meetings with local and international stakeholders: from the finance sectors, such as private banks and development banks, to implementing agencies and academics. The team also had the pleasure to meet the Mayor of Ouagadougou, Hon. Armand Béouindé, to discuss the current and planned climate and energy actions for the city.

ICLEI and GIZ dove straight into the work done on the ground with an overview of the climate action challenges and opportunities in Burkina Faso. This process acknowledged the need to involve a diverse range of stakeholders (financiers, authorities, universities, international organisations, and civil society organisations) to find and implement solutions at local level.

Local authorities here are committed to taking climate action and improving energy access despite various challenges, for instance, the conflictual situation ongoing in the Sahel region in North Africa – which notably involves Burkina Faso, the lack of funding and autonomy (except for Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso), and a fast-growing population and urbanisation. Testament to this is the ongoing planning and implementation of energy projects such as solar plants and waste-to-energy initiatives through the use of biodigestors.

Raising climate change awareness in Bobo-Dioulasso

The mission continued further in the west of Burkina Faso in the second largest city, Bobo-Dioulasso. Here the team conducted an awareness-raising workshop on climate change in Burkina Faso specifically and explored the opportunities the CoM SSA initiative represents for cities in Africa. Six cities of the region, including representatives of the cities of Bobo and Banfora, participated in this discussion, exchanging knowledge and good practices around climate change and energy access.

The mayors and representatives of secondary cities located in rural areas, namely Diébougou, Dano, Houndé and Toma, pointed out their cities were experiencing similar challenges such as the lack of funding and autonomy from the government. The local responses implemented by the local authorities to promote sustainable development were mainly geared towards the sensitisation of the population especially in order to change their habits. Those changes include promoting clean cooking stoves or improving waste management and collection.

A fun, interactive session – Involving beans! – drove home the importance of planning climate action at local level. The participants made a number of fascinating observations, especially around energy poverty and energy efficiency, while illustrating with examples from their cities.

This mission in Burkina Faso provided useful insights on the country’s climate finance and governance. ICLEI Africa is delighted to be involved in Burkina Faso through CoM SSA and to work closely with the Burkinabe cities to make climate action tangible at the local level.

ICLEI Africa presents the different steps of a Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plan (SEACAP) as part of the CoM SSA initiative – 18 July 2019, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

Learning exercise Involving Beans !, facilitated by ICLEI Africa, to better understand the importance of planning climate actions at the local level – Climate awareness-raising workshop in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso – 18 July 2019