Info4Dourou 2.0

Innovative Environmental Measurement Stations for Developing Countries

In a context of climate change and growing pressure over water resources, North and South partners from the private and academic sectors are working together to develop an assisted irrigation system in Burkina Faso, in collaboration with local micro-irrigation farmer associations.

The project received the 2012 Dalle Molle Award !

→ Technology

Robust, autonomous wireless sensor technology adapted to extreme climatic conditions allows for automatic collection of eco-hydrological data and its use via a soil-water-plant-atmosphere model. This newly developed technology uses the mobile phone network (GPRS) to send data to a server via the Internet. The system makes the information available to the local community using a simple technique:  when the soil becomes too dry, producers receive a text message alerting them that the plants need water and that irrigation should be triggered. The data is also available on the web for remote users (e.g. researchers). Alternatively, the technology can also be used to acquire other hydro-meteorological data needed for sustainable water resource management. The technology has been tested across Burkina Faso since 2012, and has received positive critiques from growers. Results show that the stations allow for significant water savings (up to 37%) while increasing crop production (up to 20%). Experiments are still underway to consolidate data on the irrigation management system as a mean for improving food security, contributing to sustainable management of groundwater resources and adapting to climate change scenarios.

→ Prospects

– Transfer of “Swiss made” technology to a solution tailored to the specific needs of users and designed locally for affordability
– Creation of a local company to disseminate the technology and promote its use by local actors for long term sustainability
– Replication of research sites in other developing countries with similar climatic conditions (Tests in Palestine)

View and download the flyer

→ Highlights

– Successful, private-academic, North-South  research and development partnerships
– Development of a low-cost, sustainable environmental data platform adapted
to conditions in Africa

“Info4Dourou 2.0 is one of the projects launched by the UNESCO Chair in Technologies for Development in the ‘ICT for Development’ sector.”


J.-C. Bolay : Urban Planning Against Poverty. How to Think and Do Better Cities in the Global South ; Springer International Publishing.
J.-C. Bolay : When inclusion means smart city: Urban planning against poverty. 2019-11-01. p. 283-299. DOI : 10.1007/978-3-030-32520-6_23.
J.-C. Bolay; E. Labattut : Sustainable Development, Planning and Poverty Alleviation; ISOCARP REVIEW. 2019-09-09.
G. Tejada Guerrero; M. Cracco; C. Bouleau; J.-C. Bolay; S. Hostettler : Testing Analytical Frameworks in Transdisciplinary Research for Sustainable Development; Sustainability. 2019-08-11. DOI : 10.3390/su11164343.
G. Tejada Guerrero : Skilled Indians in Switzerland: Mobility paths and transnational connections; Indian Migration Report 2019: Diaspora in Europe; New Delhi: Routledge, 2019-01-01. p. 376.
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J.-C. Bolay : Alternative Urban Planning for Poor Cities in Africa ; ICUDP 2018 : 20th International Conference on Urban Development and Planning, New York City, USA, 08 October 2018.
J.-C. Bolay : Planificación urbana . Para todos ? ; Seminario CIUDAD MEDIANA PAMPANEA, Nueve de Julio, Argentina, 12-13 de Marzo de 2018.
L. Donnet; J.-E. Perez : Réminiscences. Promenade muséale dans les ruines de Chan Chan (Pérou) ; 2018.
C. Vieillecroze : Un téléphérique pour Valparaiso (Chili). Entre opportunité de réconciliation avec la mer et développement urbain ; 2018.
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M. Cvetinovic; Z. Nedovic-Budic; J.-C. Bolay : Decoding urban development dynamics through actor-network methodological approach; Geoforum. 2017. DOI : 10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.03.010.
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T. Müller : Optimization of drip irrigation using a sensor network in Sahel Region (Burkina Faso) - Analysis of soil water and plant dynamics in the framework of project Info4Dourou 2.0 ; 2015.
Z. Fan : Rénovation du village Changqing à Hangzhou, Chine ; 2015.
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J.-C. Bolay : Africa's challenge with regard to housing - Introductory remarks ; 4th Swiss- African business exchange. the annual gathering for business between Switzerland and Africa, Geneva, March 16-17, 2011.
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M. Fritsch; A. Repetti; C.-A. Vuillerat; G. Schmid : Integrated and Participatiory land management. 2008. 11th Interpraevent Conference, Dornbirn, 2008.
B. Michelon : L'urbanisation de Kigali : La (re)construction d'une capitale après le génocide. 2008. International Research Conference, Tutsi Genocide and reconstruction of Knowledge, Kigali, July 22- 25, 2008.
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J.-C. Bolay; S. Wust : A Hô Chi Minh-Ville, les habitants aménagent leurs bidonvilles grâce aux microcrédits; La revue durable. 2005.
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J.-C. Bolay; A. Rabinovich; Y. Cabannes; A. Carrion : Intermediación urbana: Ciudades de América Latina en su entorno. 2003.
J.-C. Bolay; Y. Pedrazzini; A. Rabinovich : Quel sens au développement durable dans l’urbanisation du tiers-monde; Les Annales de la Recherche Urbaine. 2000.
J.-C. Bolay : Ho Chi Minh Ville, sous la pression du réel; Polyrama. 2000.
J.-C. Bolay; Y. Pedrazzini : Villes intermédiaires, environnement et développement durable. 1999.
J.-C. Bolay : Planifier autrement: Habitat urbain et Participation populaire en Amérique latine Un exemple de coopération scientifique au développement urbain entre partenaires suisses et latino-américains Argentine, Bolivie, Brésil, Venezuela. 1996-06-03. Habitat II (World Conference of United Nations on Habitat), Istanbul, June 3-14, 1996.
J.-C. Bolay; D. Kullock; M. Cruz; M. E. Meira; T. Bolivar et al. : New oportunities: Participating and Planning ; Caracas, Venezuela: IREC-EPFL, FPH, Universidad Central de Venezuela.
Habitat créatif, éloge des faiseurs de ville: habitants et architectes d'Amérique latine et d'Europe ; Paris: Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le progrès de l'homme (FPH).
J.-C. Bolay : Urbanization and environment: which sustainable housing for the poors of Latin America? ; 2nd symposium housing for the urban poor "Housing, poverty and developing countries", ENHR, Birmingham, UK, 11-14 avril 1994.
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J.-C. Bolay; A. Cunha : Habitat précaire et politique publique en Bolivie, comment appuyer une population marginalisée; Polyrama. 1993.
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J.-C. Bolay : La question du développement urbain: structuration des secteurs dits formel et informel. L'exemple de la Zone Nylon à Douala, Cameroun. 1989. 10th Bartlett International Summer School Mexico 1988 - Proceedings - Continuity and Rupture in the Production of the Built Environment, Mexico City, Mexico, August 9-11, 1988. p. 107-111.