Remote data collection in conflict locations

Burkina Faso is undergoing a major crisis due to the intensification of armed groups' activities, inter-community tensions, food and nutrition insecurity, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The security crisis has led to the displacement of more than one million people since 2017, with more than two million people becoming increasingly dependent on humanitarian assistance. Together with UNICEF and Akvo, the WASH cluster of Burkina Faso developed a plan to identify WASH needs so that they could allocate resources and improve service delivery for those who needed it most.

Above: A map of the remote survey locations.


Unicef Burkina Faso
Ministry of Water and Sanitation
Municipalities of Burkina Faso


Burkina Faso


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)


Remote data collection



Akvo Flow


The challenge

In order to provide assistance to displaced and host communities in Burkina Faso, the WASH cluster needed to have an update on WASH needs for 2020 in 20 communes. Given the unstable security situation and the COVID-19 pandemic, data collection in the field presented a number of serious challenges.

The solution

Akvo developed a remote data collection approach to gather information on WASH needs from key informants in the five regions of Burkina Faso with the largest number of displaced people. Key informants consisted of NGO workers, Internally Displaced Persons, school teachers, WASH focal points at the commune mayor's office, host community resource persons, and health workers. Akvo staff interviewed 93 key informants by telephone and collected their knowledge about the use of and access to water, sanitation and hygiene of the populations they represented.


of host population informants reported that they were unable to reach their preferred waterpoint due to safety.


of displaced population informants reported that they they were unable to reach their preferred waterpoint due to safety. 


of host population informants reported recent breakdowns of water points.


of displaced population informants reported recent breakdowns of water points.

The impact

Through this remote survey, the team was able to safely collect important information representing key affected populations. For example, the data revealed that the majority of people in the communities, including the internally displaced, have boreholes with a human powered pump (HPP) as their main source of water. Additionally, the data showed that it generally takes more than 1h 30 min to fetch water and return home (including the waiting time). This means that most people need to go outdoors in order to get drinking water even though conflict may be in their path. This information, along with much more, allowed for a number of analyses to be conducted on access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. The analyses led to action points for improving WASH services for displaced people and host communities in the 20 target communes in Burkina Faso.