Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Stephen Siebert

Commitee Members

Jeffrey Gritzner, Sarah Halvorson


Africa, conservation, decentralization, international development, natural resource management, Senegal, water, West Africa


University of Montana


Throughout the developing world, countries face a number of issues regarding the health and welfare of their populations. One issue that stands out with critical and growing importance is the availability-and accessibility-of water. Across the Sahel, access to potable water for domestic use, as well as contaminant-free water for agricultural and animal husbandry purposes is of growing concern. This study evaluates Government of Senegal efforts at improving rural water access through public-private operation contracts to manage deep groundwater resources. In West Africa, Senegal currently counts itself among the few Sahelian countries having sufficient freshwater supplies to support its population’s growing domestic and industrial needs, though this is threatened by global climate change, and the Sahel’s natural ecological variability. Surface water supplies the majority of urban areas in the country, while rural regions commonly draw water from groundwater systems. From 2002-2009, the Senegalese government, in cooperation with external partners, launched the Projet d’Organisation et de Gestion Villageoise (Village Organization and Management Project) which aimed to reduce poverty and improve quality-of-life at the village level. In 2007, the village of Tawa Fall received the technology necessary to access deep groundwater resources through this project. In a unique public-private system, the government of Senegal engaged Associations d’Usagers de Forages (Drilling User Associations, ASUFOR) to manage operation and maintenance contracts for these boreholes. Proceeds from the sale of water is managed by ASUFOR associations, and used both for borehole maintenance and to further village development. This study explores the effectiveness of deep borehole wells at reducing women’s workload, evaluating the wells’ effects on communities from the perspective of women as primary domestic water drawers and users. The study also examines the efficiency of the ASUFOR system at maintaining decentralized management of natural resources. It examines how Tawa Fall’s ASUFOR committee has used proceeds from the sale of groundwater to bring electricity to the village, and also explores how village women manage their household water needs through a combination of purchased, and well-drawn water. The data collection methods utilized include spot observation, site visits, semi-structured and unstructured interviews with key informants, and a survey of female heads of household to determine domestic water use patterns. The results suggest that, while deep borehole wells provide a fairly reliable source of water for villagers and reduce women’s labor burden, the cost of water is often prohibitive, and the majority of residents continue to regularly use open wells in addition to public taps. This suggests that Senegal’s management of rural water systems is still at an emerging stage, and would benefit from increased financial investment to maintain continuous access and expand the existing rural water provision network.



© Copyright 2013 Tenly Elizabeth Snow