In Burkina Faso we see how, even when crisis is at its peak, communities are still focussing on building a sustainable future.
Since moving to Nongferi in Burkina Faso five years ago, Bintu Nyampa has worked hard to provide food for her young family.
Doing so has not been easy. With few jobs available, her husband Larba Koarkra spends his days raking through dirt looking for flakes of gold: he rarely finds any.
The couple supplement Larba’s income growing vegetables on a small plot of land for the family to eat. But this year, after several seasons of poor and erratic rain, their crops failed leaving nothing to harvest.
This followed hard on the heels of floods in 2010 which devastated Samentenga province where Nongferi is located, wiping out crops and food stores.
Families like Bintu’s who have faced these successive emergencies have little or nothing stored to see them through yet another poor harvest. And with food prices having risen by as much as 40% in a year, few can afford to buy additional food.
Emergency food packages supplied by Christian Aid partner ATAD have provided a lifeline for these families. But with months to go to the next harvest, support remains vital for families across Burkina Faso and West Africa.
‘Thanks to the assistance we have received, our family will have enough food for two or three weeks,’ says Bintu, who received 100kg of grain. ‘After this we have no other source of food.’
While emergency support is urgently needed, longer term work to ensure people are not left without anything after future bad seasons remains critical.
ATAD is working with 52 of Nongferi’s most vulnerable families, and many more across Samentenga, to help them grow more. They have received land for a market garden and training in farming methods including planting different varieties of crops and using seeds which need less water. This means that even in bad years they are more likely to have a harvest.
Madiaga Lemani has been an energetic member of this group, helping prepare the field by carrying water to the site and bringing firewood to prepare meals for the workers.
Now that this preparation work is complete, the families are forming a cooperative so they can work together to increase the amount they are able to grow.
An ambitious woman, Madiaga hopes her hard work will be recognised and that she will be elected president of the group.
And so while ATAD’s emergency support remains critical in the short term, Nogferi’s farming group now has hope that a similar crisis can be avoided in the future.
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