One Cash For Assets participant shows off what she has grown. WFP/Celestine Ouedraogo
As the harvest begins in Burkina Faso, beneficiaries of WFP's Cash for Assets activities are reaping the benefits of work done earlier in the year to improve rice production. New agricultural techniques and better roads are helping to increase what farmers can grow and sell, as well as improving livelihoods in a region where malnutrition and food insecurity rates are high.
In the village of Bibiou in the North region, eight participants constructed half-moons in the soil across ten hectares of land. These unusually-shaped plots significantly increase crop yields by trapping moisture and preventing erosion.
"It was a great help to learn the half-moon technique", says René Djibila, WFP beneficiary and father of seven children. "It's much more efficient than traditional techniques and the results are visible when compared to the neighboring fields. Next year, I'll expand my field and start work earlier in the season". "We're very happy with the results because when there is no food, women and children suffer more than men", says a woman. "We and our children are no longer hungry".
Increasing rice production
Through Cash for Assets, 15 hectares of lowland in Bagaré were divided into individual plots. In total, 92 beneficiaries - including 57 women - built low, earthen walls that retain moisture when it rains.
"We're very grateful for this support, says the head of Village Development Committee. "When we see this green expanse of rice fields, we're very happy. Not only does this mean that we have more food at home but we can also sell part of our harvest at the market to earn some money".
Expanding production areas
Not all Cash for Assets projects focus on increasing crop yields, other activities involve repairing roads. During the rainy season, the people of Korro, Souri and Bassantinga are often unable cross the swamps to reach the neighboring villages of Bagaré. With WFP's assistance, 110 participants, including 70 women, rehabilitated seven kilometers of rural road in Bagaré, including a 400-metre elevated road through a wetland built with stones. To complete the project, men dug stones while women oversaw their collection and transport.
"During the rainy season, no vehicle or motorcycle could pass here", says Weninkonte Pagbelguem, the head of the group. "Now we can easily reach the health centre and also the market in Bagaré to buy or sell products. We now want to build a reservoir so that we can carry out market gardening and provide water for our livestock in the dry season".
On a recent mission to Burkina Faso, WFP West Africa Deputy Regional Director Felix Gomez visited several Cash for Assets projects in the North with Pastor Stephen Bazié, coordinator for WFP's implementing partner, the Protestant Churches Office for Development in the North.
"Today I saw how WFP's Cash for Asset activities increase sorghum and rice yields through the use of improved agricultural techniques", said Felix Gomez during the visit. "These are real and lasting results - exactly what WFP means when we talk about resilience. From these activities, households have learned how to improve their yields, their food stocks and their general food security".
These activities were made possible thanks to contributions from donors including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland and Germany.
Celestine Ouedraogo is the Programme Assistant for Basic Education activities in Burkina Faso, as well as the Public Information focal point and the Walk the World focal point. Before joining WFP in 1998, Celestine worked for CEAO (West African Economic Organisation, currently UEMOA) and UNHCR.