In 2008 Raymond Ouedraogo came to Vienna to pursue his doctoral studies at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), where he met his supervisor Andreas Melcher for the first time. Raymond and Andreas did not only become friends but continued their scientific cooperation beyond the scholarship. They had the idea to develop a project on Sustainable Management of Water and Fish Resources in Burkina Faso (SUSFISH) that is built on the PhD results. Fortunately the Academic Partnership, aiming at developing standardized assessment methods of water bodies and tools to measure the environmental impacts on riverside society, was selected for funding by APPEAR.
During the project period from 2011 to 2014 stress factors on aquatic ecosystems were classified and recorded in a database. More than 75 fish species and 61 families of macro-invertebrates were identified and their spatial distribution was described in a first national list. The research showed that biological assessment of water bodies in Burkina Faso is feasible. Furthermore a standardized monitoring system to protect waters and the environment was developed and implemented. Due to the good results and the innovative approach APPEAR accepted to fund an Advanced Academic Partnership (SUSFISH-plus) that is implemented until the end of 2019. Raymond’s long lasting working experiences as a senior officer of fisheries and aquaculture at the Ministry of Environment provided the opportunity to include relevant experts from different institutions such as universities, ministries and NGOs. Over the last years within the frame of the project a good and multidisciplinary network was established.
Another crucial outcome of this cooperation is the capacity building that took place at higher education and research institutions in Burkina Faso. During the first SUSFISH phase, two Burkinabe students completed their PhD studies at BOKU. Idrissa Kaboré focused on macro-invertebrates, while Komandan Mano studies were related to fish ecology. Their research increased the availability of reliable information on fish and aquatic ecosystems. Both are now working as post-docs in the follow up project SUSFISH-plus. Idrissa Kaboré is author of several publications on aquatic ecology and is lecturer and researcher at University Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo of Ouagadougou. Komandan Mano works as well as researcher and lecturer at the University of Dédougou and the University Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo of Ouagadougou.
As the previous doctoral students were concentrating on natural sciences, the social scientist Vincent-Paul Sanon was nominated for a PhD scholarship at BOKU. His research focuses on the transition of fisheries governance from the traditional to the republican approaches.
Many more students at different levels have been and are still supervised at BOKU and the partner institutions - University Pr Joseph Ki-Zerbo of Ouagadougou, University Nazi Boni of Bobo-Dioulasso, Institute for Environment and Agricultural Research and International Union for Conservation of Nature - and generate relevant knowledge for sustainable management of water and fish resources for Burkina Faso.