Introducing Gender Equality Consultant, Mme Lydia Tapsoba


Lydia Tapsoba

Photo and article by Judy Gray

We would like to introduce Mme. Lydia TAPSOBA who is currently supporting our partner NGO, in Burkina Faso (APDC) with Gender and Gender Equality activities. Lydia is a sociologist and holds a professional degree in Social Statistics and a Master’s degree in project management. She has over 15 years of experience in community development, communication for behavioral change and gender mainstreaming in development programs. Lydia has worked with the following NGOs: Medicus Mundi, World Neighbors Oklahoma, Save the Children, and the Catholic Relief Services in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo.

Recently, Lydia was hired by APDC as a Gender Equity consultant.  As part of the current grant from Global Affairs Canada, greater emphasis is being placed on gender and gender equality and although this has long been part of APDC’s activities,  they sought to add to their knowledge of topics in this domain.  Lydia supported the development of the APDC Gender Action Plan, the training of 4 APDC field workers on gender and food and nutrition security, and rural entrepreneurship. She is also in charge of monitoring the implementation of the gender action plan. She has also trained 72 women leaders from the project villages on gender and gender-based violence.

Lydia is currently Gender and Nutrition Specialist for the Sahel Resilience to Food and Nutrition Insecurity Program. She is vice-chair of the board of directors of Mwangaza Action, an international NGO specializing in social mobilization issues.

Lydia is married and has a 3 year old daughter. Judy Gray had the pleasure of meeting Lydia last February while in Burkina Faso and hopes to spend a short while with her again this year, in the project area, during an upcoming mission to Fada.

A Visitor from Burkina Faso

Charles Tankoano

World Neighbours Canada is very excited to announce that Charles Tankoano, Executive Director of the NGO APDC (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés) – our partner NGO in Burkina Faso, will be in British Columbia this March and available to talk to schools, donors, and community groups about their work.

This will be the first time that World Neighbours has hosted a project partner from Burkina Faso. Mr. Tankoano speaks French but WNC members Judy and Peter Gray will be attending to assist with translation.

Mr. Tankoano will be traveling from Kamloops to Osoyoos and then on to Vancouver between March 12-17. This will be a great opportunity to hear about the successes and challenges of community development in rural Eastern Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, north of Ghana.  Called “Upper Volta” in colonial times, the country lies in the savanna and Sahel zones, the wide band of semi-arid grasslands with scattered trees that separates the Sahara from the forested areas to the south. World Neighbours Canada supports the burkinabé NGO, APDC, and it is this organization that organizes and implements the project activities.

APDC Staff

APDC has experienced great success by using the empowerment of women as a starting point for community development.  This begins with motivation and training of women in maternal health and child nutrition.  In addition, APDC encourages the women to participate in State organized training sessions in literacy and numeracy.  Women are encouraged to form savings and credit groups, and use or borrow from these funds to engage in income generation activities. Villagers are now growing more vegetables and learning how to care for livestock such as goats and sheep. Since 2008, the program has slowly expanded and now includes 18 villages in the Fada region.

Currently, funding for the activities is being provided, in large part, by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as part of the Canadian government’s initiatives for improved Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in developing countries. These initiatives will contribute to the reduction of mortality and morbidity, especially in mothers and infants, and also to improving nutrition and development of young children. The current funding grant from GAC covers the period March 2016 to the end of March 2020.

To arrange for Mr. Tankoano to talk to your organization please contact Judy Gray by email at

Building Earthquake Resistant Homes in Nepal

The new approved, earthquake resistant designed house, completed.

Photos and article by Dale Dodge

One of the delays to our toilet projects in Nepal was that the 2015 earthquake had destroyed numerous homes and there was no point in building toilets if the homes had not been rebuilt yet. Due to international generosity there was money to rebuild, however, that was severely delayed as the Nepalese government wanted to ensure the new homes could withstand another earthquake, so they put out a call for earthquake resistant designs for the new homes. Traditionally, homes are built of brick and mud which is inexpensive, but not earthquake resistant.

New house construction started in Jyamirbote. Note cement footings, and temporary living quarters.

Building is now underway. The government has a plan in which villagers will get an initial amount of money to start building a government certified, earthquake resistant structure.  If the villager plans to simply build another brick and mud structure, there is no funding.

There are two types of structures allowed which qualify for funding.  If the structure is one story, then there will be a cement floor and foundation, followed by walls that can be made of brick and mud to a height of about 24 inches.  This short wall is then covered either with a layer of wood or a layer of concrete about 3 inches thick – a slip layer.  The wall is then built another 24 inches with brick and another slip panel is added.  The walls look to be about 6 feet high in total, with another slip panel on the top of the wall.  And the roof is corrugated, usually blue, metal – much lighter than the slate that was used before.

Two feet of stone and mud walls topped by a cement slip layer = earthquake resistance.

If the planned building is more than one storey, then the whole building must be built of cement or cement block, with rebar on the corners and in the walls.

After a certain amount of construction, an inspector will give the ok for the villager to then get another installment of his funding, and a final installment is given upon completion.

When one sees the extent of the damage due to the earthquake, it is safe to assume that the rebuilding will take years.  But is has started, and there is a plan, and the end result looks to be much better than what was there before.


Honduras Political Situation Still of Concern

By Gabriel Newman

This is what we know about what is happening in Honduras so far:

On November 26, 2017 Honduras held national elections and the region is still in a state of political tension. The Organization of American States has called for a re-election, and opposition parties are citing election fraud, but the Honduran election commission has declared the re-election of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández.

The resulting protests and violence resulted in at least 31 people dead.

The US State Department has recognized the re-election of Mr. Hernandez despite opposition from US politicians. Canada has not officially endorsed or condemned the elections.

Protests are continuing, and state police are visible in all major centers and along roads,  making it difficult to move around the country.

Our partners at Vecinos Honduras are safe and, unfortunately, used to political unrest.

Below are more in-depth articles which get into the history of the region, the accusations and some of the politics.

A great article from the Independent written before the election giving background into the political situation in Honduras

From the New York Times January 6, 2018

The Guardian December 18 and 22, 2017

Last chance for 2017 tax receipts!

World Neighbours Online Donations

If you had been meaning to donate to World Neighbours Canada this year, but haven’t gotten around to it, this is a gentle reminder that there are only a couple days left to get your tax receipt issued for the 2017 tax year.

If you are like me and can’t remember when you donated last, may I point out that on our website ( you can sign up for monthly donations to be withdrawn so you no longer need to keep track.

Right now your donations are matched 6 to 1 by the Canadian government so even a little goes along way.

We are a small grass roots organization made up a small group of volunteers, and a small, but dedicated, group of donors, but we have been able to facilitate international projects that focus on education, locals teaching locals, and sustainable methodology since 1989.

Thank you for your support and we hope you have a wonderful 2018!

Election Results in Nepal Promise Stability

By Dale Dodge

Nepal has just finished having both federal and provincial elections.  The results were surprising, but hopefully will result in a more stable government for the country going forward.

Nepali Election – phase 1

The Nepali Congress party has been in charge of government for the past 5 years, but always as part of a shaky coalition with other parties.  In this election just completed, the other two major parties – both ‘communist’ – agreed to not split votes.  The two parties are the UML (United Marxist Leninist) and the UMP (United Maoist Party).  If the UML ran a candidate in a riding, then the UMP agreed to not run a candidate in opposition, and vice versa.  The result was that there was no vote splitting amongst left leaning voters, and the two parties handily won the most seats in the parliament – 117 of the 165 seats available.  Another 110 seats will be filled using a proportional voting system, but it will not change the result – the leftist coalition will govern for the next 5 years.  The Nepali Congress party received only 21 seats.

Nepali Election – Phase 2

Despite there being a minimum number of female candidates mandated, there were very few who ran for election.  Roughly 5% of candidates were female, and at this time, I have not heard how many were elected.

Nepali people are hoping that the stable government will speed up the reconstruction of houses and buildings damaged by the earthquakes 2 ½ years ago.  To date, only about 4% of the houses have been rebuilt.

What does Canada’s new International Feminist Policy mean to World Neighbours?

By Gabriel Newman

The Canadian Government has recently changed its international aid policy to focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In fact, it is the first country in the world to come out with a Feminist International Aid Policy. Previously, the focus was directed to specific countries but now with a new government there is a change of direction. The Executive Summary for the Policy states:

“The last three decades have seen dramatic reductions in global poverty, but not everyone has benefited equally. Hundreds of millions of people, especially women and girls, are still poor, have unequal access to resources and opportunities, and face major risks of violent conflict, climate and environmental hazards, and/or economic and political insecurity. By eliminating barriers to equality and helping to create better opportunities, women and girls can be powerful agents of change and improve their own lives and those of their families, communities and countries. This is a powerful way to reduce poverty for everyone.”

We, at World Neighbours, applaud these efforts as we have seen first hand the effect of systemic sexism on communities. These funding policies mean that should we wish to qualify for funding from Global Affairs Canada we need to make sure we meet all the criteria laid out in the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is easier said than done. While we have always endeavoured to encourage projects that promote gender equality within communities there are many barriers to meet these new criteria.  Some of these barriers are internal, as they will force us on the Board to rethink how we approach each project. But perhaps the largest barrier lies within our partnering organizations because this is a dramatic shift of thinking and at odds with some traditional cultural norms. Supporting and empowering women in communities is certainly supported by our partner organizations but the process and expectations may not align as closely as we would like. The Policy not only wants to see certain results, it wants the entire process of aid to embody the policy objectives.

Luckily, we have some time to work with our partner organizations and provide training, if needed, to bring them up to speed before we need to apply for project funding. There are also numerous opportunities, such as webinars and training sessions, to help bring us, on the Board, up to speed on these expectations.

Admittedly, this author is definitely trying to figure out what all of this means. I will let you know as things progress. If you want to read the entire policy, check out Canada’s Feminist International Aid Policy.

Bathing in Private is a Luxury

By Gabriel Newman based on information from Suresh Shrestha

In the small villages of Nepal almost all women, except for the few who have private baths or toilets at their house, must bath outside openly at the public tap or traditional sources, such as rivers, wearing their clothes (just opening the area up to the bra). Obviously, this is not ideal from a hygienic perspective or from the perspective of personal freedom and privacy.

Where there are outside toilets/baths with enough space, women may be able to bath their entire body, but this practice is very rare.  Whereas, women who have private bath/toilet at their homes, especially in town with concrete houses, can remove all outer clothes before bathing.

World Neighbours is currently working with TTS to build toilets in Ramechhap but the current design is small and cannot be adapted at this stage of the project to include bathing space. When the design was chosen the issue of women’s bathing was unknown to us and had not been factored in with most projects in the region.

We will however, look at adapting the design for future projects as we think this is an important issue. This would also require incentives to convince villagers to adapt to the idea of a bathing and toilet room.

Introducing our Newest Board Member

Gabriel Newman

World Neighbours Canada would like to welcome and introduce Gabriel Newman, the newest member of our Board of Directors. Gabriel is not new to World Neighbours as his father, Michael Newman, was a long time member. “My father got involved in World Neighbours after I left home and now as my children are preparing to depart I saw this as a perfect time to increase my involvement. From many conversations with my father over the years I have a decent understanding of the methodology, and the history of World Neighbours, and I believe in the work that is done, so it was only a matter of time before I became more involved.” says Newman.

Gabriel is already helping with managing the World Neighbours Facebook page as well as the website and will be posting articles regularly. “My focus for the articles and updates will lean towards profiles of interesting people or situations that are encountered in Honduras, Burkina Faso, and Nepal. I am already learning so much and I want to share that with our members.” Gabriel encourages members to contact him if they have an idea for a story or want to learn more about a certain topic.

Gabriel lives with his wife and two children in Vernon, BC where he is the Educational Coordinator at the Vernon Museum, is a sessional instructor at Thompson Rivers University, and manages a small hobby farm.


Feeding a village -visiting Burkina Faso

The following is an account by Judy Gray following her visit of APDC projects in Burkino Faso. APDC is funded by World Neighbours Canada.

It’s 8AM and we are underway – off this morning, first to Gbersaaga, to view the rice fields being prepared so they can be planted this June and then on to Ganyhela – a new village where we’ll observe an information session on nutrition, in concert with a cooking demonstration and meal sharing. We are familiar with the road that eventually will reach Niger:  the potholes, the donkey carts, the apparently dead but really just dormant trees lining the highway, the villagers on bicycles, the goats crossing the road and more – all magically misty due to the dust in the air – and know that we’ll reach Gbersaaga in about thirty minutes. Time to reflect on what we’re seeing, but not relax totally – who can do that when the chauffeur must slow and swerve dramatically every few minutes to avoid those deep pits! And then – suddenly we’ve arrived: off in the distance through the ghostly trees, we spy the furrows in the flat landscape and we are driving across red dirt to the “lowland” – though it looks just as flat as the land around it to me – to the fields being prepared for rice planting.

            We arrived before 9AM and already there were about 25 villagers hard at work; really, not surprising as the sun’s heat was evident the moment we stepped from the truck. Hard, rock hard “soil” is slowly and mercilessly being chipped into smaller chunks in order to prepare partitions – or small “walls” that will keep the water inside the enclosure once the rice is planted. To begin with, the entire area of 3 hectares is being “fenced in” with these walls or “diguettes” as they are called; and after that, the bas-fond rice field will be divided into much smaller individualized plots, with a wall between each section. Sweat pours off the villagers as they swing a pick axe high into the air, before bringing it down into this parched and hardened “soil”. As the pick meets the soil, the dust floats up and the land is broken into a few chunks. Repeat, repeat, repeat – same spot – several times, in order to break the ground into small enough chunks that can then be bashed with a shovel and the chunks piled by hand to create an 18 inch high, 20 inch wide wall – the work reminds me of my childhood when I’d build a moat around a sand castle! More than twice that energy is required to achieve this result! .The villagers have split up into small groups of about 8 and each group is working on one of the individual diguettes. And it is certainly not just men who are out toiling in the heat of sun: young women, women with babes on their back, and elders – as one person tires, another takes over; while still others work behind placing the chunks into the correct spots to produce a wall that will trap that water once the rains begin. A sense of urgency is present – the walls must be built before the rainy season which will arrive, hopefully by late May; and between early March and May, the days will get hotter and hotter as the temperatures will rise eventually to near 50C!

We learned that the three hectare bas-fond belongs to one family of Gbersaaga, and while that family will be given several of the individual parcels, the remainder will be allocated to 100 families – all of whom will help, and have helped with this back-breaking preparatory work. Once the work is completed and all the diguettes have been constructed, someone from State agriculture department will come to the village and assign the parcels – the village leadership committee will provide information about those who should receive a parcel with priority given to the poorest households in the community and often women, with no husband, but women who are able to work that land. We also learned that one parcel of land ( about 20 metres square) will yield about 100 kg of rice. A small start, but one more way to increase food security and diversify a family’s diet.

            The rice field observation completed, we were back in the truck and on the highway for another 15 minutes to reach the village of Ganyhela. This village joined the project just over a year ago, and in spite of limited duration of this village’s involvement, the villagers seem to have wholeheartedly embraced their inclusion in the APDC project. About 80 women, young children and babes were already gathered under the ubiquitous “big shade tree” – we always meet under a tree, as the temperature is probably almost ten degrees lower than the mad dogs and Englishmen full sun temperature. Food preparations had begun  around 7AM, with the guidance of the two APDC field workers, Hortense and Diaboado. It takes time to gather enough wood, set a fire, and get the enormous cauldron and the required quantity of water heated Two “dishes”  are being prepared today, as usual – one, a bouillie or porridge for children between the ages of 6 and 11 months – their introduction to “solid” food and then a “repas solide” or stew, for everyone else: toddlers and young children, pregnant and nursing mothers ( virtually every female in the group! ). Emphasis is placed on including a food from each of the important food groups: a cereal, a protein, and a fruit or vegetable – and explained to the villagers as “an element for energy, an element for growth, and one to provide needed vitamins”. Once the preparation of the two meals is well underway, and the grain ingredient needs time to simmer, the women gather to listen to the instructional part of the demonstration: Diaboado explains the reason and importance for each food group and , with the aid of very primitive visuals, shows examples of which local foods are part of each food group and may be used in a “meal” preparation. One must remember that at least 80% of these women are illiterate, and must absorb and retain this information orally; no mean feat for women who have never had any formal schooling and another reason for repeating the sessions more than once. Today’s bouillie includes rice (the cereal), ground nuts (ground peanuts), dried powdered fish, and niebe ( navy beans ) – (the protein), and tamarind (the fruit ) while the “repas solide” or stew includes tomatoes, onions, chopped cabbage and eggplant (vitamins), powdered dried fish and niebe (protein) and rice (grain) along with a handful of salt. This meal’s preparation was multi- stepped: first the chopped tomatoes, onions, and cabbage were gently fried and put aside;  then water was added along with big chunks of aubergine and cabbage – these were cooked until soft and removed also; next the chopped fried vegetables and uncooked rice and navy beans along with lots of water were cooked and simmered until the rice and beans softened. During the cooking time, the information session with questions took place. Finally it’s time to eat: more women and children drift in and the bowls are placed on the ground. The bouillie for the very young served is served first and time allowed for mothers to help the babes mouth the thick soup – time needed for the bouillie to cool as it’s still very hot and a few cries escape in the beginning! Fingers dipped in our communal bowl as we must try everything too, and after I’ve sampled the soup, I’m off to grab photos of the babes – many licking the soup from their mum’s fingers. I noticed a number of children older than 11 months who are also sampling the bouillie; seated on the ground, finger  dipped repeatedly into a small plastic bowl and then licked with gusto as the soup is enjoyed.

I forgot to say that handwashing hygiene is also part of the session and large pans of water with plenty of soap are available and children and mums are wash hands well before eating.

The bouillie largely finished, it’s time for the repas solide to be served. A flurry of activity as each woman places her bowl on the ground beside the huge cauldron: one woman serves the rice-niebe mixture and then places a couple of chunks of the cooked cabbage and aubergine into the bowl. It’s suddenly quiet under the big tree as all are sampling and enjoying the food. WE eat from the large bowl provided – one bowl for the six of us – hoping and praying as I eat that any vicious bugs will have been killed during the cooking and acknowledging that this is, indeed, very tasty!!! Time is taken to enjoy the food – no-one rushes off back home; bellies replete the women continue to chat, help a toddler eat or nurse a baby once again. As I again wander around the assembled groups, I notice that the huge cauldron of stew and the one of bouillie are being scarped within an inch of their lives – not a scrap of food remains, and one woman is watching carefully to make sure no-one returns for a second serving! There is really just enough for each person to have only one!

We witnessed this instructional session and accompanying food preparation in three different villages over the course of our visit: each time different foods were used, but always attention paid to the inclusion of a food from each group, with emphasis on the use of locally available items! Probably the most interesting and inspiring sessions we witnessed during our stay in Fada.