Supporting Enumerations in Burkina Faso

Kenya to Burkina Faso Exchange

Read the full report from this exchange here.

In early June teams from Kenya and Ghana traveled to Burkina Faso to support enumerations there. The exercise took place in the informal settlements of Tabtenga and Niko II in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The purpose of this exercise was to assist the mentioned settlements towards collecting data for their settlement as part of the Know Your City project partnership between SDI and United Cities & Local Governance Africa (UCLGA) (with funding from Cities Alliance), government and the five municipalities in five regions for a period of five years. 

Kenya to Burkina Faso


Kenya to Burkina Faso

The team from Kenya consisted of Edwin Simiyu, Emily Mwangi, Doris Museti (all from Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan Federation) and Jack Makau of SDI. 

Planning was done on the first morning. All the activities that needed to be carried out between the six days were identified and allocated the time frames. Some of the activities included drawing of the settlement boundaries, trainings on numbering and enumeration, saving schemes formation and follow-up, actual data collection, meeting the mayor and other local leaders, profiling of the settlements and process review. 

Later in the day the Kenyan team met with the team from Citizen’s Laboratory, the support NGO SDI has been working with in Burkina. Jack Makau expanded on the purpose of the exchange visit and the objectives of the team’s visit to Ouagadougou. This consisted of a general introduction to some of SDI’s methodologies and a discussion on the objectives of the visit with respect to the Know Your City project. Some of these include: community enumerations training, strengthening of savings schemes, establishment of committee of community leaders, mayor sensitization workshop, drafting of profile questionnaire, Google maps of informal settlements. 

Some of the issues that arose included the need for a translator and the challenge of political interference. The Kenyan team explained that the SDI processes are often political and that there is a need to take an approach that will minimize these politics. It was agreed that the team would first meet the Chief’s of the respective communities, as chiefs in Burkina Faso yiled immense powers and their consent alone can determine the success of the process. It was also agreed that the team would meet with the mayor and other local leaders to enlighten them on the process and the impact it will have on the communities of Nioko II and Tabtenga. 

To date, Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between SDI and local government in five of the cities where the Know Your City programme operates. Some of the opportunities that have arisen from these partnerships include: inclusion of communities in development plans, increased understanding of slum condition on the part of local politicians and government officials and opportunities for the community to collect information, share it with authorities and improve advocacy skills. 

The first step in the enumerations exercise in Burkina Faso was to craft a questionnaire. Simiyu from Kenya worked with the team from Burkina to develop a simple questionnaire which was later translated into French. Next the team proceeded to Nioko II settlement to meet the local chief and local enumerators and share the data collection programme with them. The team explained both the settlement profiling and household survey data collection processes and emphasized the importance of developing savings schemes as a means of consolidating the community and addressing their collective and individual livelihood issues. To that end, a community member from Nioko II who had previously visited Ghana on an SDI exchange spoke of the importance of savings and how her community is using savings as a tool to mobilize for a water connection. The next day the team made their second site visit, this time to Tabtenga community where they followed the same procedure as in Nioko II and were given the go-ahead by the chief of Tabtenga. 

Kenya to Burkina Faso

Following the meeting with the chief in Tabtenga the team proceeded to the enumerations training. The enumerators drew a map of their settlement and divided the settlement into six zones. Data collection began in zone 1, which was divided into four clusters. Each zone and cluster was then given a unique code for shack numbering, for example, the first household on the first plot in Tabtenga Zone 1, Cluster 1 would be numbered TAB/Z1/C1/001/A. A few days later a similar training was held in Nioko II. The unique numbers distinguish between residential structures, toilets, washrooms, kitchens, stores, businesses and other institutions or public amenities.

Kenya to Burkina Faso

Following the training in Tabtenga, the team returned to Nioko II to meet with the rest of the community and to provide a similar training on the enumeration and data collection process. A discussion of land tenure issues materialized, and the team from SDI encouraged community members to position themselves to advocate for the land rather than sit by and wait for government to formalize land tenure for them. The community was resistant to the idea of developing the land before tenure was formalized, but the Kenyan team shared their experience of influencing development in informal settlements and the formalization process itself through their community-led initiatives. This assisted in opening the minds of the local community towards the idea of organizing themselves.  

Also critical to the visit was a meeting with the local mayor. The Kenyan, Ghanaian and local delegations met with the Mayor of Ougadougou, explaining the objectives of their visit and of the data collection processes they were undertaking. They were well received and representatives of the ward and mayor’s office requested to participate on the ground to get a better idea of what the processes entailed. 

Kenya to Burkina Faso

The data collection process commenced on Monday at Tabtenga settlement Zone 1 cluster 1 and on Tuesday in Nioko II Zone Salga Cluster 1 it commenced on Tuesday. The team divided themselves into two, with Emily (from Kenya) and Fusein (from Ghana) managed the data collection in Tabtenga whereas Simiyu (from Kenya) and Naa (from Ghana). Simiyu assisted in monitoring and quality control of the process for the two areas as well as assisting the supervising team (Kenyans and Ghanaians) in handling any issues emerging during the process. Farouk continued with upward engagements with the city authorities and government representatives as well as working on the logistical issues with the Citizens Laboratory team. He had meetings with the Director of Housing, UN Habitat, Cities Alliance and Amnesty International. 

A team has been identified in both communities to assist in quality checking of the process. This will include checking the enumeration questionnaire once the enumerators have returned them and counter-signing them. This team was identified from the group of enumerators who had gone through all the stages of data collection and had a good grasp of the same. Four people were identified in Tabtenga (one per cluster) and three people were also identified in Nioko II (one per cluster). 

Kenya to Burkina Faso

The Ghanaian team was able to support the data collection process and assist the Citizens Laboratory to work out on issues of data entry, monitoring and evaluation of the process for the Zone 1 in Tabtenga and Zone Salga in Nioko II. Issues of GIS mapping also needs to discussed further so that once the social economic data collection for the two zones has been completed the team is equipped to translate the information onto GIS maps. This includes acquisition of satellite images / aerial photographs of the settlements, digitization of the aerial photographs, preparation of mapping sheets, mapping training, data collection and editing, anlaysis and report preparation of the spatial data.

As a result of the visit, the SDI team from Kenya and Ghana achieved a number of objectives in supporting the local process in Burkina Faso. The community enumerators training for both Tabtenga and Nioko II took place and a pool of 34 enumerators has been created (18 in Tabtenga and 16 in Nioko II). This team was taken through a process of drawing their settlement boundaries, developing the numbering code for their settlements, collecting structure details through the numbering sheet and collecting the household details through the enumeration questionnaire. The team also followed up on the saving scheme that had been established in Nioko II and assisted in forming a savings scheme in Tabtenga. 

The mayor sensitization workshop was also a success and the mayor’s representative participated in the data collection exercise that was going on in Nioko II. 

Kenya to Burkina Faso

Despite these successes, the team was not able to profile the two settlements due to a number of challenges. First was the fact that the questionnaire that the team had come with needed to be customized to capture the local context of the settlements in Burkina Faso. This did not take place because the questionnaire needed to be first translated to French. As only Florent was working with us and was responsible for the logistics and day to day translations, it became too overwhelming for him to create time for these extra translations to occur. Secondly the enumeration team we were working with was small and splitting the team to have some members to carry out the profiling process proved a challenge as first we needed to train them again on the profiling questionnaire. Getting other new members from the community to train on the profiling process required more time to orient them on the ongoing process. This needed a little bit more time and since the team had only five days in Burkina Faso, three of which had been lost through meetings and trainings, the two days remaining were insufficient to work on the questionnaire for the profiles as well as the actual data collection of the same. This can however be carried out by allowing the Ghanaians to coordinate with the Burkinabes to agree on the settlement profiling questionnaire and identify a team from the enumerators who can be trained on how to carry out these profiles. In fact, this can be done for all the settlements in Ouagadougou. Option two is to plan for the settlement profiles as the discussions for GIS mapping happens so that at least two days can be set apart from the mapping process for the settlement profile questionnaire harmonization, profile team identification and training for the same so that as the GIS mapping process begins there will be a team going on with the settlement profiles as well. 

The visit was notwithstanding the challenges a success and as the Kenyan team we are grateful to SDI for giving us an opportunity to assist the people of Burkina Faso to embrace the SDI rituals. During the course of working, three key slogans were developed and accepted to be used for the Francophone nations. These can further be customized into their local dialects.


Kenya to Burkina Faso

New Affiliate in Burkina Faso Inspired by Visit to Ghana

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Part I: A Testimony From Ouagadougou 

By Kotimi Kéré, resident of spontaneous zone “Taabtenga” in Ouagadougou (translation by Chantal Hildebrand, SDI Secretariat)

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Photo above: Kotimi Kéré, adjoining treasurer of the “Association ‘Id-rayim-taab yeele,” and community member of sector 45 “Taab-Tenga” (a spontaneous zone of in Ouagadougou).

Taking part in the study tour to Ghana from 21-26 January 2013, I got a better understanding of the SDI strategy. It is a matter of mobilizing poor communities to improve their living conditions and be able to influence the actions of decision-makers in the favor of these populations.

Aspects of SDI strategy that arouses the most interest during this exchange included:

  • Mobilising communities around a common project and/or idea;
  • The introduction of savings groups within urban poor communities. People living in slums are a the priority poor. Having faith in an individual project, each community member, to the best of their ability, will put aside a little bit of money everyday to add to their savings book (for example, 2 cedis, 5 cedis, etc.);
  • The possibility of savings group members being able to save enough to support individual projects;
  • The solidarity and team spirit found within the savings groups in terms of supporting each member even if they experience difficulties in repaying a loan;

The main lesson I learned from this trip is the following: 

The modernization of cities is often a process split into two speeds. On the one hand, the institutional principles set by national and local policy makers, and on the other side, the poor settlements in cities who have difficulty fitting into the formal principles. The inclusion and non-marginalization of the urban poor are esstential to the modernization of cities. 

The alternative is to make the urban poor aware of their own abilities to change their destinies. We do not always need to wait for others to do everything for us and lift us out of our misery. Overcoming poverty and improving our lives depend primarily on us. It is necessary to know our prioities to first realise our own progress with patience and self-confidence. Although poor, I can find ways to spare a little of what I earn each day to support projects that benefit my life. The battle for registering poor communities in urban development is based primarily on our abilities to improve our own living conditions. 

From what I have seen and learned, in my opinion it would be selfish to keep it to oneself. I come from a community living in a precarious neighborhood (slum) of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. In my opinion, I think  the first action to do on my return to my country is to mobilise my own community to change our current living conditions and our lives.  

To read Kotimi Kéré’s testimonial in French, please click here.

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

Photo above of Ouagadougou delegation that participated in the exchange to Ghana: Florent Y. Bakouan (representative from Laboratoire Citeyonnetés), Madeleine Bouda (community member from Taabtenga), Kotimi Kere (community member from Nioko 2) and Franck Kabore (representative from le Coalition Nationale pour L’Habitat). 

Part II: The Way Forward

By Chantal Hildebrand, using “Restitution Ghana report” by Florent Bakouan.

Upon their return to Burkina Faso, the Ouagadougou delegation who participated in the learning exchange to Ghana met to discuss how to implement some of the lessons and tools they learned in the spontaneous zones of Ouagadougou. It was agreed that they would begin by sharing the lessons learned in Ghana with their own communities specifically Nioko 2 and Taabtenga – the two spontaneous zones where Mrs. Bouda and Ms. Kéré live.

Beginning with Nioko 2, a presentation was conducted by Mrs. Bouda reporting her experience on the Ghana exchange and presenting the SDI approach and core rituals. Attended by 150 community members and members of a local women’s group called “Songr Nooma la Zamstaaba” (which Mrs. Bouda is a member), the presentation resulted in a collective interest in implementing some of the SDI approach in the Nioko 2 community. Identifying lack of access to safe drinking water in households as a key issue in the community, the interested residents decided to mobilise the rest of the Nioko 2 community around this priority. The community, with the help of Laboratoire Citeyonnetés and the other individuals who participated in the Ghana exchange, have begun mobilizing community members through the establishment of a savings scheme, with current membership totaling 130 people. Future plans include:

  • Conducting an enumeration of Nioko 2, identifying areas with available drinking water, the number of households without water, those who want water, etc;
  • Conducting a mapping exercise focusing on the current water situation in the community.

Burkina Faso & Ghana Exchange

A meeting in Taabtenga is scheduled for Sunday 10 March 2013. As explained by Mr. Florent Bakouan, a representative from the Laboratoire Citeyonnetés who participated in the Ghana exchange, in Taabtenga, like Nioko 2, “Nous allons partager ce que nous avons appris au Ghana, susciter l’adhésion des habitants à l’approche SDI et envisager avec eux un projet commun pour le réaliser par eux et pour eux.” – English translation: “We will share what we have learned in Ghana, build support from the residents around the SDI approach and consider a joint project with the residents to help facilitate community-run upgrading and work with them on a communal project to realize by them for them.”

He ends by saying, “En conclusion…Nous avons mis l’accent d’abord sur l’adhésion des populations à l’approche SDI, ensuite à leur mobilisation autour d’un projet commun. Nous allons progressivement étape par étape pour avoir plus de chances de réussite.” – English translation: “In conclusion… we focus first on public support around the SDI approach, then their mobilisation around a common project. We are progressing gradually, step by step, to have a better chance of success.”

Urban Upgrading in the Spontaneous Zones Of Ouagadougou


By Chantal Hildebrand, SDI Secretariat

Sustainability is the anthem of the generation. NGO’s have moved from projects formulated a decade ago, where a building was built or a bag of rice given with few programs informing locals on how to maintain said building or plant rice in order to feed themselves in seasons to come, to programs which try to address the question of what will happen when said program ends. Although this is a step in the right direction, it may be wise to re-evaluate the programs we are currently implementing and ask ourselves a question we should have been asking all along: “Are we any closer to a day when programs like this one will no longer be needed?” Questions like this should be forefront of all programs, especially in terms of urban development, if we intend to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goal.

Urban upgrading programs are not a new phenomenon in Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou. Its history goes all the way back to 1974 when the UNDP implemented the Cissin Slum Upgrading Program. Since this project, various NGOs and foreign governments, including France and the Netherlands, have built upon the Cissin Slum Upgrading Program or have implemented their own urban upgrading project, often times with the support of the government.  Although these programs successfully decreased irregular and informal settlements in the city up until the late 1990s, they have been unable to manage the increase in urban populations that have taken place in the past decade and have rarely addressed service provisions or facilities in these once informal areas. Due to these flaws, Ouagadougou has continued to struggle with the management and inclusion of “spontaneous zones” (preferred term for the informal settlements of Ouagadougou) in their urban development plans.

Ouagadougou has a population of 1,475,223 inhabitants; about half of the total urban population, but it is unclear whether or not this number includes the inhabitants of the spontaneous zones surrounding the city limits. According to the residents of these zones, housing is still a struggle in Ouagadougou. Walking through the spontaneous zones, you are met with simple mud brick houses (often constructed by the slum dwellers themselves) often separated by slim dirt pathways leading to either the community water pump, the occasional school, or to a main road entering Ouagadougou city (there are wider unpaved roads where cars can access these spontaneous zones more easily). The homes often are two rooms, holding families averaging 7 people. The majority of these households have access to traditional pit latrines, since the community is rarely connected to the water supply system. Although the majority of the population have roofs over their heads, these zones face vast inadequacies in service provision, a very low level of sanitation, and insufficient road networks.



However, despite these challenges, a significant characteristic of these spontaneous zones is that they do posses regular plots. Burkina’s urban planning relies heavily on the 1984 Land Tenure Reform Act, where the land is nationalized and the government sells land by lotissement (subdivision). Between the years of 1983 and 1990, the government implemented a national urban upgrading program in both Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, where more the 125,000 plots were regularized and as a direct result the amount of unplanned areas of these cities were rapidly reduced. Today this lotissement policy is difficult to implement due to market liberalization which has led to an increase in land speculation. Despite the government’s interventions in slum upgrading, the city’s population continues to grow and spontaneous zones are consistently expanding, and due to the lack of investment in infrastructure and service provisions, the zones’ populations continue to live in poor living conditions.

In August 2012, Ouagadougou finished phase two of UN Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Program (PSUP), one of the newest slum upgrading programs in Burkina Faso. According to the UN Habitat website, “[t]he programme’s purpose is to strengthen capacity of local, central and regional institutions and key stakeholders’ in settlement and slum improvement through the use of good governance and management approaches, pilot projects and contributing, where needed, to the policy development, and the implementation of institutional, legislative, financial, and normative and implementation frameworks” ( Using enumeration and profiling techniques conducted by a team made up of urban planners, representatives of the municipality of Ouagadougou, the national government, and key stakeholders(including the participation of community members), PSUP has profiled and mapped three spontaneous zones to provide a better understanding of the organization of the settlements. Presented with this information, the community then chose the projects they feel are most needed in their communities. Implementation of these projects will take place during Phase 3 of PSUP, which is scheduled to begin in January 2013 after the parliamentary elections in Ouagadougou in December.

Although not a new concept, the PSUP’s approach to engaging government institutions in slum upgrading is taking a step in the right direction. Furthermore, as a large project, smaller organizations are able to play a supporting role in the implementation of more grass-root projects which can help sustain the work the PSUP has done in these informal zones. SDI and UCLGA’s Know Your City project is a perfect fit for this role. Similar to the PSUP, the Know Your City project relies on enumerations and mapping as a means of community upgrading; however, our approach is completely community driven, providing a means of mobilising the population to begin upgrading on their own terms. As the PSUP focuses more of its attention on the capacity building of local and national authorities and collaboration between all institutions, Know Your City uses a bottom-up approach empowering the community and its members to take a more active role in their settlement upgrading. Together these programs will enable the empowerment of both groups allowing for a plethora of ideas to be exchanged and the creation of a strong bond and understanding between the national and local government, along with city planners and other key stakeholders’, and the slum populations.

Many factors need to be aligned for a project to endure long after its original architects and designers have left it to its own devices. More than sustainable, projects need to be able to evolve and shift to better fit the world’s ever-changing state. Under this understanding, the overall goal is that current upgrading projects will address the problems of today’s developing world so that future projects focusing on this same issue are unnecessary. So the question remains, will the collaborative programs of SDI and UN Habitat lead to less of a need for slum upgrading projects or will we both merely be adding to the plethora of attempted programs that have yet to make a significant impact? Only time will tell but as slum populations take hold of their own upgrading and begin collaborating with local authorities to plan more inclusive cities, the need for external interference in urban development will likely decrease.