Empowering rural women in Burkina Faso – Video

We are very proud of a recent project that was completed in Burkina Faso by our partner APDC. The project was funded by a grant World Neighbours Canada obtained from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT). FIT is a program funded by Global Affairs Canada. After project completion, FIT provided additional funding to provide training and support for APDC to produce a video about the project to allow World Neighbours Canada to share the results of the project with Canadians, and also with other villages in Burkina Faso.

Rather than tell you about the project in detail, we thought we would share the video instead so you can hear the process and results from the participants themselves.

The video is from on our Youtube channel. You can see it here:

About the project briefly:

Following discussions with women in the rural Eastern region of Burkina Faso, APDC implemented activities with 110 women to allow each woman to set up and manage a household sheep-fattening enterprise. APDC provided training in basic bookkeeping, techniques in the care of the animals, how to choose an animal at the local livestock market, and entrepreneurial training – the traits of a successful business person. A key element of the project was engaging family members, and their embrace of the project was one of the highlights.

About APDC:

The full name of the partner organization is Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés défavorisés. It is a small rural development organization in eastern Burkina Faso that World Neighbours Canada has supported, in a variety of ways, since 2009.

New research reveals extreme fluctuations between drought and flooding

By Bruce Petch, Volunteer Executive Director, World Neighbours Canada

Research findings released by the UK charity WaterAid describe how some dry regions of the world, including parts of Burkina Faso, are subject to a “whiplash” of extreme climate pressures. Periods of drought are followed by devastating floods. The research was done in partnership with the University of Bristol and Cardiff University (https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2023/november/flooding-and-drought.html).

The research is consistent with the experience of people living in the Eastern Region of Burkina Faso. World Neighbours Canada’s partner in the country, APDC, has often reported the seemingly contradictory observations that crops suffered from drought during the growing season, but severe flooding damaged the bunds in rice fields. APDC has been working with farmers to adapt to the changing climate. One strategy is to build more rice fields in slightly low-lying areas (the terrain is quite flat). If floodwaters can be controlled, rainfed rice production has the advantage of being less reliant on the distribution of rainfall over the growing season. Another strategy is to reduce reliance on field crops by supporting livestock production, market vegetables (where wells can provide water) and processing of agricultural products such as sesame.

Unfortunately, APDC’s work is hampered by a violent insurgency in the country that has caused many rural people to leave their homes and farms and seek refuge in towns where the army is better able to maintain security.

Thank you Lydia

Lydia presenting to Canadian students.WNC recently welcomed to B.C.: Lydia Tapsoba, a Gender Consultant from Burkino Faso .  Lydia has worked extensively with our local burkinabe partner, APDC.

In one day, Lydia completed 3 presentations to high school students and the general public; and travelled from Kamloops, to Oliver and on to Osoyoos, B.C. In between the presentations, Lydia found time to touch snow ( for the first time ever!), make a snowball, putt a few golf balls and dip her toes in Osoyoos Lake.

WNC welcomes Burkina Faso partner Lydia Tapsoba

World Neighbours Canada is very pleased to welcome Lydia Tapsoba, who will be visiting BC to present information about an innovative project done by APDC, the local partner of World Neighbours Canada in Burkina Faso. Judy Gray, a director with World Neighbours Canada, will travel with Lydia and assist with translation when necessary. 

We are excited about a number of presentations during Lydia’s visit, some open to the public:

Kamloops: Monday, September 25:

  • Private presentation: International Politics class at Thompson Rivers University
  • Public presentation: Plura Hills United Church
    • 7:00 pm
    • 2090 Pacific Way, Kamloops

Kamloops: Tuesday, September 26: 

  • Private presentation: SKSS French Immersion classes
  • Private presentation: McGowan Park Elementary
  • Private presentation: WNC donors / interested community members

Kamloops/Vernon: Wednesday, September 27:

  • Private presentation: Probus group (Kamloops)
  • Private presentation: Okanagan University College International Development class
  • Public presentation:
    • 6:30 pm at the Vernon Library
    • 2800 30th Ave, Vernon

Oliver: Friday, September 29:

  • Public presentation: Oliver Curling Club
    • 10:00 am
    • Oliver Curling Club Lounge
  • Private presentation: SOSS Social Justice class.
Abbotsford: Sunday, October 1:
  • Private presentation: World Neighbours Canada AGM in Abbotsford

Gibsons: Monday, October 2:

  • Public presentation: Gibsons Public Market
    • 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
    • Coastal Room
  • Private presentation: Gibsons Conversational French group

Vancouver: Tuesday, October 3: 

  • Private presentation: Virtual lecture at UCFV
  • Private presentation: Donor’s home

Vancouver: Wednesday, October 4:

  • Public presentation: British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) event

Abbotsford: Friday, October 6:

  • Private presentation: Aldergrove Rotary meeting

WHAT IS APDC?

The full name of the partner organization is Association d’Appui à la Promotion du  Développement durable des Communautés défavorisés. It is a small rural development organization in eastern  Burkina Faso that World Neighbours Canada has supported, in a variety of ways, since 2009.  

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PRESENTATION?

Lydia will be presenting information and results of a 15-month experimental project that APDC undertook in 2021- 2022. The project was funded by a grant World  Neighbours Canada obtained from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT). FIT is a program funded by Global Affairs Canada. After project completion, FIT provided additional funding to allow World Neighbours  Canada to share the results of the project with Canadians, and also with other villages in Burkina Faso. We are thrilled that Lydia is able to come to Canada to speak about the project and introduce a video created by APDC. 

WHO IS LYDIA TAPSOBA?

Lydia has worked with APDC when needed since 2007, as their Gender  Consultant. For the FIT project, she supported APDC and provided the staff with information to lead gender training workshops for the beneficiary women and their families. She led focus groups and designed surveys during the project to help better understand the gender equality situation in the area. Lydia lives in the capital, Ouagadougou, but has visited the project area many times and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by rural women in the area and throughout Burkina  Faso.  

WHAT WAS THE EXPERIMENTAL PROJECT?

Following discussions with women in the rural Eastern region of Burkina Faso, APDC implemented activities with 110 women to allow each woman to set up and manage a  household sheep-fattening enterprise. APDC provided training in basic bookkeeping, techniques in the care of the animals, how to choose an animal at the local livestock market, and entrepreneurial training – the traits of a  successful businessperson.

A key element of the project was engaging family members, and their embrace of the project was one of the highlights. Following the short video, Lydia will participate in a facilitated discussion about the challenges and potential of economic empowerment of women farmers in a region affected by an increasingly unpredictable climate and frequent attacks by terrorists. Discussion after the video can focus on any of the following topics: 

  • empowering women to lead small family-run businesses
  • how men and youth are being included in projects that focus on women
  • why sheep fattening activities are important in the rural economy
  • approaches to alleviation of poverty in rural Burkina Faso
  • the effects of climate change in this region of the Sahel
  • the challenges of working in a region with a severe risk of terrorist attacks

For more information, contact Judy Gray at judyworldneighbours@gmail.com.

Impact Story – Burkina Faso

Suzane and Blandine with Rebeka, APDC coordinator – 2 women who purchased the sheep entirely on their own.

The impact of poverty is complex. Local and international politics, climate change, food insecurity, and culture are just a few of the influencing factors. This makes implementing development projects difficult as there are many factors creating the situation. Secondly, it is almost impossible to anticipate all the outcomes of these projects. That is why the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT) was created. It allowed organizations to study innovative approaches. World Neighbours Canada was lucky enough to receive funding for their partner in Burkina Faso, Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement Durable des Communautés (APDC), to test an innovative solution aimed at increasing women’s full and equitable economic participation and empowerment in both household and the livestock smallholder sector.

The following impact story, posted on the FIT website, gives a sample of the different ways the program impacted the community, and one couple in particular. Some of the ways were expected, while some were pleasantly unexpected.

To read the article please visit: Impact Story

Updated Burkina Faso page with videos

World Neighbours Canada has updated the information on the Burkina Faso page of their website as our partner, APDC, has been very busy with a number of new projects. We encourage you to visit and see what has been happening.

Visit the Burkino Faso Page.

We especially encourage you to check out the slideshows on the left hand side of the page. These photos have been taken by one of our directors, Judy Gray, and the APDC staff.

Here is a taste of what they look like. This is titled “Activities.”

Perceptions of climate change in Burkina Faso

By Bruce Petch, Executive Director (volunteer) with World Neighbours Canada

World Neighbours Canada is actively engaged with our local partner organization in Burkina Faso to help adapt their farming and other economic activities to cope with a changing climate. Thus, we were interested to learn about work done by Farm Radio International to hear directly from people in the country how they are affected by climate change and what ideas they have for adaptation.

Farm Radio International received input from thousands of people who called into local radio stations in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. The slides below summarize what was heard. Although the area where we work in Burkina Faso was not included, the information seems relevant to us. We were pleased to see that the situation and potential solutions described by callers are similar to what we described in our recent proposal submitted to Global Affairs Canada on the theme of adaptation to climate change.

(These slides are from a webinar delivered by Farm Radio International. You can watch the full webinar on YouTube at https://youtu.be/iQlpZQstPjA).

A first for women farmers – participation in the livestock market!

Suzane and Blandine with Rebeka, APDC coordinator – 2 women who purchased the sheep entirely on their own.

By Judy Gray,

Together with APDC, our partner organization in Burkina Faso, World Neighbours Canada recently completed a 15 month experimental project with funding from FIT (Fund for Innovation and Transformation), an initiative based in Manitoba that is funded, in turn, by Global Affairs Canada.

Over the 15 month term, 110 women from our project villages participated in family based sheep fattening enterprises, in which the women were the leaders of their business, but were supported by other household members. One of the most interesting and innovative aspects of the project, was the women’s participation in the purchase and sale of the sheep.

Although APDC had supported women in the past in sheep-fattening, prior to this project the women had never been involved in the purchase or sale of the animals. In fact, through focus group discussions that were held midway through the project, a number of both women and men mentioned that women who participated in such activities were viewed quite negatively. One person remarked that, “A woman who does this (attends the cattle market) should be banished from the family, she is a rebellious, wicked, witchy, independent woman. She is a woman who has no respect for her husband, who has social difficulties.” On the other hand, some rare men positively appreciate a woman who sells and buys animals on her own and describe her as ‘courageous and a fighter’.”

Fada cattle market.

However, with the extensive training that the women received from the veterinarian, these women felt they had the knowledge and skills to participate in the purchase and sale of their animals. Here is a sample of the women’s comments:

Vet checking the health of newly purchased sheep; and giving vaccinations; village of Tambiga.

Kayaba: “I learned the process, I can’t pay alone but with my son I can. We were very, very tired, very, very tired. I know how expensive animals are, so I was very tired of walking around the market to find the right animals.”

Blandine – “It’s very very tiring, I even have headaches, it’s hard because the sun has hit us a lot, also the animals are very expensive. I chose my animals and negotiated the prices alone.”

Taking the animals home.

Choosing good healthy animals is something the women are now confident with, but negotiating with marketers for a fair price continues to be challenging: “When customers see the women, they raise the price of the animals… When they see the women selling, they lower the prices too much, thinking that the women know nothing about animal prices” (woman from Gnianmanga). The women of Tambiga confirm this by suggesting that they get help from a man because “The traders at the market are thieves, swindlers. They lower the prices of the animals sold by the women too much.”

Rebeka recording the amount paid for the sheep.

Despite these issues, men’s and women’s attitudes changed dramatically over the course of the project and by the end, the men were much more positive about their wives attending the cattle market, thanks in part to the gender sessions offered to the men, women and adolescents. “We appreciate all the women who are able to buy or sell their own animals because it is a proof that they are enlightened. This means that these women get along well with their husbands, these kinds of women are to be encouraged and congratulated because they will help their husbands a lot” (women from Tambiga village).

For the men, the support of APDC has been very beneficial. One man said, “Before, I could not consult my wife for decisions because she could not say anything good to me, but now we do everything together. The woman was like a slave in our families, but today everything has changed”. Another added that “I exchange with my wife before taking a decision. Today, we are aware that women have good ideas that can help in the family and even in the village.” According to the men, the situation has changed in favour of women partly because of their increased financial power. “If the woman has the financial means, her husband listens to her”.

@ women at home with their newly purchased sheep.

The women have suggested further information sessions about how to conduct negotiations to buy and sell sheep. It is challenging for them, especially in light of the male-dominated process and the low literacy and numeracy skills of most women. Despite all the challenges, all of the 110 women who participated in the initiative continue to operate their sheep-fattening businesses.

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Security situation in Burkina Faso worsens – APDC staff encounter terrorist groups

Diaboado on the motorcycle that was taken

By Judy Gray

We have received some disconcerting news recently from our partner in Burkina Faso – APDC.

Last Saturday, in two separate locations, APDC staff encountered terrorists while travelling on local roads.

Diaboado, one of the APDC staff field workers was on his way to a training session with a consultant when they were stopped by a group of terrorists, likely armed. The two were not harmed, fortunately, but the terrorists took Diaboado’s motorcycle.

In another incident, while travelling to Bogande (to the north, another town where APDC has projects) the driver encountered another group of terrorists and was forced to give up the 4×4 he was driving – the only vehicle that APDc owns. Luckily he was not harmed either.

We have continued to hear of the growing number of terrorist attacks in Eastern Burkina Faso and according to Charles Tankoano, the Executive Director of APDC, these attacks have reduced the number and scope of community development organizations operating in the region. It seems that APDC is one of the few groups continuing with programming.

Despite these attacks, APDC is currently in the process of gathering data for the final report on the women’s sheep fattening enterprise project. Extra safety precautions are being put in place and extra days have been allotted for the data collection so that the interviewers can carefully plan when it is safe to visit the women.

We continue to receive communication on an almost daily basis and hope that the data gathering and other project activities will proceed without harm to those involved.

Charles’ final comment in his WhatsApp message, “There is no improvement in security in Burkina Faso. But, to date, they (the terrorists) have not done anything to our personnel. Only, our already insufficient means of travel are suddenly reduced. But we are grateful to God for having preserved our 2 colleagues”

FIT Program in Burkina Faso progressing well

By Gurleen Grewal

“I will stop neglecting myself. I will work well to succeed in my sheep-fattening and have a lot of profit.” These goals were expressed by a woman from a village in rural Burkina Faso after she had participated in an innovative project set in motion by World Neighbours Canada and our local partner organization, APDC, with funding from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT). It is one of the many inspiring testimonies we have read as our FIT-funded project recently reached its halfway point! All FIT-funded projects test innovative solutions for advancing gender equality, and empowering women and girls. These projects also have the benefit of FIT’s ongoing support as they adapt to on-the-ground challenges.

The goal of our FIT-funded innovative project is to test a novel approach to strengthening rural women’s economic participation by helping them develop the ability to manage and maintain informal sheep-fattening businesses. Sheep-fattening is a relatively low risk way to earn income. It involves purchasing sheep, caring for them and feeding them to ensure they remain healthy and gain weight, and then later selling them for a higher price.

There are a series of barriers that prevent poor women in rural Burkina Faso from being able to manage and maintain a sheep-fattening business. For one, women often lack access to funds for purchasing sheep, and to the professional skills that are needed to organize their sheep-fattening activities as businesses that can generate profit in a sustainable way. They also struggle to balance competing household responsibilities with their sheep-fattening activities, and wonder how to go about enlisting their family’s support in that process. WNC’s FIT-funded project addresses all of these barriers. It provides rural women with the funds for the initial purchase of sheep, professional training sessions in topics like financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and the support women need to be able to go to the animal market.

Though our project has only reached its halfway point, we have already seen encouraging progress that points towards the success of the novel approach we are testing! Among the highlights of the project so far is the number of women who can identify the features of a healthy sheep to purchase, and who have the support of their household members in caring for their animals. This project has allowed many women to experience a number of firsts: for the first time in their lives thirty women were able to participate in the purchase of sheep at the local cattle market. Having never before observed this process they enjoyed learning how one negotiates the terms of a purchase, or identifies a desirable sheep.

Before our project began, few people in rural villages thought it was possible for women to improve their social status or to contribute to village development through their economic empowerment. But, at the midpoint of our project’s implementation, the majority of people now see both of these benefits –women’s improved social status, and women’s contribution to village development –as being tied to women’s economic empowerment! As we move towards the final stretch of our innovative project, we will continue to share the stories of rural women as they meet the challenges of learning and applying new professional skills and becoming active and insightful managers of small animal-fattening businesses.

To learn more about the Fund for Innovation and Transformation, please have a look at their website.