The area north of Côte d’Ivoire and east of Mali has been settled for thousands of years. The Mossi, who were masters of the horse, established their kingdom in Wagadogo in the 15th century. Their kingdom was powerful and prosperous for hundreds of years until the era of colonialism.
After considerable competition involving battles and treaties with the English, the French eventually gained control of the region, defeating the Mossi and occupying Wagadogo in 1896.
Today, the city is comprised of seventeen villages, has a population of 1.5 million, and is one of the poorest and most polluted cities in the world. As the population grows and resources dwindle, access to clean water becomes increasingly difficult. Wells are polluted and scattered about the countryside. Potable water sellers cart rusty barrels along the unpaved city streets. Their water is expensive, hot, and unclean.
Eighty percent of childhood diarrhea in the area can be traced to polluted water. One in five children doesn’t live past the age of five. International aid organizations have combined to work toward the goal of bringing clean water to 80% of the population by the year 2015.