Extending sanitation services to informal settlements in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

by Harinaivo Anderson Andrianisa, Asengo Gerardin Mabia, Mahugnon Samuel Ahossouhe and Seyram Kossi Sossou (2ie), Tontama Sanou, Soumaila Sodre (ONEA), Sam Drabble (WSUP) and Dewi Rimayani Hanoum (UN Habitat)

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Informal settlements in the context of Ouagadougou are human settlements that are not structured (not shown in the cadastral plan) and occupied outside the official rules for acquiring housing land and in the absence of official land tenure. Access to land is achieved through negotiations with customary owners, but this procedure is not formally recognized by the urban authorities. The proliferation of informal settlements in Ouagadougou is the result of a housing crisis and rapid population growth.

The political will to improve living conditions in the informal settlements of Ouagadougou is increasing. A national strategy for upgrading informal settlements has been developed, as part of the review of the national urban policy. The review was prompted by the Saaba informal settlement upgrading project, which led to the provision of integrated basic services such as running water, sanitation, electricity and passable roads.

This case study draws lessons from the Saaba pilot project for clarifying responsibilities and improving wastewater and faecal sludge services at citywide scale, including in informal settlements.

Geographic information


Burkina Faso

City and population:

Ouagadougou: 2,453,496


  • Until recently, informal settlements have not been recognized by urban authorities. As a result, there are no formal connections, and the provision of basic services is lacking. There is no specific strategy to address sanitation in informal settlements.
  • Construction and operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities are provided by limited skills labour that are not contracted and supervised by a mandated authority. Specific standards for faecal sludge treatment are not included in regulations related to sanitation and wastewater discharge.


  • The accountability framework for containment is strong, with designated institutions responsible for monitoring (Ministry of Environment, Water and Sanitation (MEEA) and Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene (MSHP).
  • A pilot project has been launched to develop informal settlements under the Ministry of Urban Planning, Land Affairs and Housing. Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement (ONEA) has adopted responsibility for the development of water and sanitation services in ‘urban agglomerations’, through which ONEA is clearly mandated to coordinate sanitation services to informal and spontaneous settlements, supported by a wide range of private sector and civil society organizations.