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Burkina Faso drought triggers water and power shortages

An intense dry season across the Sahel region leads to severe heat, causing water and power cuts for millions.

A strong drought has left many residents without drinking water in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

The capital Ouagadougou, which has been badly hit, is currently cutting off the city's water supply intermittently.

The city of two million residents has suffered shortages since April 27 and some of them lasted as long as a week.

Many in Ouagadougou now travel several kilometres, usually on motorbikes with large jerry cans, looking for drinking water.

Not surprisingly, the shortages are leading to a rising cost for the water available at pay-fountains, where some of the merchants have been quick to increase their prices.

Jeannine Ouedraogo, who owns a pay-fountain in Zone-1 of the city, said she had not experienced such a severe crisis since settling in the region more than 20 years ago.

Intense heat and ageing facilities

As far as Burkina citizens are concerned, intense heat, ageing facilities and a rising population are the main reasons why cuts last longer each year.

Consumers continue to pay their bills despite the shortages, and authorities are using tankers to distribute drinking water to vulnerable peripheral areas without electricity or running water.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country within the Sahel, and is one of the poorest in the region. The dry season runs from March to June, and inevitably brings water shortages and power cuts.

One project that will help the issue of shortages is the Ziga II dam project, 40km outside the capital. It is due to be completed in June 2017 and is set to double the nation's production capacity.

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