Basile Ouédraogo, WaterAid, Burkina Faso
Sign Basile's open letter to join #OurClimateFight
We’re calling on Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to listen to the people most affected by our changing climate, and ensure at least one third of the UK Government’s climate budget is invested directly in local projects. Basile has seen first-hand how communities in Burkina Faso are finding it even harder to get clean water due to extreme weather changes. With access to water that keeps flowing through cyclones, flood and drought, communities will be able to adapt to the unpredictability they’re experiencing right now. Add your voice to Basile’s. Sign his open letter today.
Read Basile’s open letter
I’m too young to have experienced the great droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, but my grandparents and parents frequently reminded my siblings and I what they’d had to endure, so that we never took food for granted just because we’d always had it.
It wasn’t until I was a student in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou that I had my own first encounter with extreme weather. It was a day I can’t forget. On 1 September 2009, 25% of the annual rainfall for the entire country fell on the city. By the time the rains finally relented, 46 people were dead, 42,000 houses destroyed.
Those rains washed away any doubts we may have had: our climate is changing.
Sometimes droughts, sometimes floods, sometimes unbearable heatwaves and violent winds – vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso live today, and every day, in permanent anxiety, constant fear of what tomorrow will bring. That’s not the kind of living human beings were made for.
Farmers like François Nikiema, who showed me his ruined crops, say things are getting worse every year. Francois told me “The worst time is in April, you have to juggle with the little water you have or simply give up certain needs due to lack of water.”
When I see the wells and rivers people rely on for water drying up, and the effort and energy farming communities put in day after day, only to feel that their destiny is at the mercy of weather and water, it breaks my heart. This is what it means to be a “vulnerable community” - it doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means despite your relentless hard work, you’re unable to take charge of your life.
It’s hard to put into words the deep pain and frustration I feel knowing that there are simple solutions that will help communities like Francois’ to build resilience against changing and extreme weather. Clean water that keeps flowing all year round would help communities thrive and take charge of their lives. I wish people in power could see what I see, hear what I hear. I just want governments to do what they need to do. This is our climate fight.
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