Right of reply by the MCA-BF to the Editing Director of abcburkina.net

class="grasrouge" style="text-align: center; color: #2f805e; font-weight: bold;">We are happy to publish this right of reply to our last newsletter “The producers of the Sourou Valley deprived of water, without prior information, for the construction by the MCA-BF of water management infrastructure on the new perimeter”

The reply is followed by a brief commentary on our part.

“To the Editing Director of the publication

Your web site publication of today, July 2nd, 2012, carries the headline « “The producers of the Sourou Valley unknowingly deprived of water for infrastructure work on hectares of new land” by » Father Maurice Oudet, , accusing the Millenium Challenge-Account-Burkina Faso (MCA-BF) of having caused the considerable lowering of water levels of the Sourou reservoir, generating a “dry season” in the Valley with deplorable consequences for agriculture and pastoralists.

May I remind you that within the framework of the cooperation with the United States of America, Burkina Faso is the beneficiary, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, MCC, of a contract called Compact, the global objective of which is the reduction of poverty through economic growth. The programme has a budget of 480.9 million dollars over a five year period of time and is directed to four major targets:

  • Land tenure security

  • Land management (désenclavement)

  • Agricultural Development Project

  • The BRIGHT II Project for the improvement of access to education for girls.

Under the Agricultural Development Project, infrastructure work for the irrigation of a perimeter of2033 hectaresof land at Di, was launched on December 17 2011 by the Head of State, His Excellency Blaise Compaoré, in the village of Di. The actual start of the work on site at Di was carried out in accordance with the current standards regarding such activities. A plan for the resettlement of persons concerned by the project (PAP) was worked out and performed in accordance with international criteria, in order to clear the land held by the PAP prior to the beginning of the work. The producers, all groups included (women, young persons and men) have received compensation according to the value assessment of their farms and will be beneficiaries of new irrigated plots of land at the termination of the infrastructure work.

To ensure a better result of the land irrigation project in the Sourou Valley, a dyke and water conduits are under construction on the perimeter. The infrastructure work must be performed in depth in the Sourou river and studies have been made in advance to ascertain the water levels that should be maintained in the Sourou reservoir during the work. As established by these studies , water will be gradually released, so that water levels will go from 51.80 m3 to 250,30m3 at the end of the dry season, thus permitting adduction pipes to be installed.

In addition as a safeguard against the impact of the infrastructure work, a meeting with the participation of the Sourou Valley Management Authority (Autorité de Mise en Valeur de la Vallée du Sourou), the engineer in charge of the supervision of the work, the Project Management Consultant for the Project for Agricultural Development (PDA/PMC) was organised on December 11th 2011, in order to determine the impact of the operation on ongoing agricultural activities in the irrigated perimeter in the Sourou Valley.

At the meeting, the Direction d’Appui à la Production et la Vulgarisation agricole/AMVS conveyed the forecasts, crop by crop, for the land areas to be cultivated, from January to May 2012, to the Consultant (the PDA/PMC), who after having processed these data ensured the AMVS that the proposed land areas could be sown without risks of subsequent water shortages.

Three (03) additional meetings were held with the PMC/PDA, the General Directorate of Water Resources (DGRE) and the AMVS for the follow up on the Sourou water reservoir, on January 27th, March 9th and April 13th, 2012.

For preventive action, the MCA-BF, in cooperation with the DGRE and the AMVS broadcast a communiqué during 2 weeks, starting on January 30, 2012, on the radio stations Sourou Nayala and CEDICOM SALAKI and also through the High Commissioner of Sourou, informing the population of the Sourou Valley that as of the first week of February 2012 the water gates of the Lery dam would be gradually opened, in order to lower the water levels of the Sourou reservoir. The inhabitants were however assured that the quantities of water required for their ongoing work in the area under irrigation would be supplied. The communiqué further invited the population, in particular those downstream of the Mouhoun river, to take precautions to avoid risks off flooding and loss of property.

The first water shortage alert from the producers, represented by the presidents of their cooperatives and the UCAVASO, came on March 20th 2012 and was followed by a coordination meeting of the cooperatives upon instruction of the Director General of the AMVS. The concern regarding the water shortage was shared at the monthly work site meeting at Di on March 29th 2012..

As a result of the repeated complaints received by the AMVS from the Sourou producers about the notable lowering of the water levels in the Sourou, a delegation was sent out led by the National Coordinator of the MCA-BF, accompanied by the AMVS and the President of the UCAVASO, on April 19th 2012 to Di, in order to get a clearer view of the fears expressed by the producers. A visit was made to the various incriminated sites and was followed by an open and frank discussion, with a view to finding a solution to the water crisis. It was noted that the complaints did not come from producers in the infrastructure work areas, and even less from the persons concerned by the project having received compensation in compliance with MCC criteria.

For your information and to send out a message of clarification, after the articles you have published, the various parties concerned , including the government’s technical agencies, were unanimous in observing the outdated state of the equipment, which is to be repaired, in particular by the AMVS, to face up to the noted lack of maintenance: channels blocked by weeds and thick and deep layers of sludge, gates that had remained closed stopping water from reaching the areas from where the complaints had originated. All these factors had resulted in scarce supplies of irrigation water at some sites.

In light of this state of affairs, tentative solutions were suggested by the various parties concerned. As a first step, producers were asked to contribute by removing weeds and grass from the water channels in order to facilitate the flow to the perimeter, assisting the AMVS in its duty to ensure the maintenance of the equipment. Sensitive to the discomfort that had occurred, the MCA-BF enlisted the participation of the company contracted for the infrastructure work for the cleansing of the channels, in preparation for the larger maintenance work on the pipes to be carried out by the AMVS.

As a follow up of the visits on site a documentary television programme was produced and broadcast by the TV channel RTB at 8.40 p.m. on Saturday 28th of April 2012, in order to explain to the population in general and to the producers in the Mohoun river area in particular, that the MCA-BF, following its criteria and those of its technical and financial partner company, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, MCC, could not be contributing to cause precarious living conditions for the beneficiaries of the projects, but was indeed, quite on the contrary, there to support the fight against poverty. It is in this sense that the MCA-BF, having noted the consequences, is acting to assist the producers concerned, true to its primary objective, bringing logistics and technical support to facilitate the supply of water to their land.

Since land tenure security and agriculture are highly sensitive issues in our country, it follows that you should take the maximum care in collecting, processing and checking information and facts before any publication.

The MCA-BF, as well as all other parties concerned share the desolation of the Sourou producers, but is not thereby responsible for the occurrence of the “dry season” in Sourou, as described in your news article.

All these actions and communications might have escaped your attention. However our staff remains open to an exchange of information, to enable you to better appreciate the contribution of the MCA-BF to the improvement of the living conditions of the population through sustainable economic growth.


Note by the Editor of abcburkina.net

We are pleased to publish this reaction from the MCA-BF, mainly for four reasons

  1. Our readers have the right to be informed of the stance taken by the various parties

  2. We do not dispute the goodwill of the MCA-BF, which might have felt abused by the conclusions of its consultant. It is precisely because the purpose of the MCA-BF is to contribute to the fight against poverty – as reiterated by its Communications Office in the reply – that we wrote: “Who will pay? Perhaps the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-BF)?”

  3. However, I doubt that at the time of sending this right of reply on line there is one single producer in the Sourou Valley who thinks that the MCA-BF is not the originator of the “dry season” as described in our news article.

  4. As long as the producers in the cooperatives have not received compensation, this debate can not be considered closed. I may add that if they are not paid compensation in the next few days, the producers will be unable to start the second cultivation of the year in time for the rainy season. From poverty they will sink into misery.

Koudougou, July 19th 2012
Maurice Oudet
Director SEDELAN

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