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).
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’.”
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:
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.”
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.”
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”.
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.
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”
“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.
There have been dramatic political changes in Honduras and Burkina Faso. Honduras has elected its first woman president, Xiomara Castro with the centre-left Libre Party. In Burkina Faso, the elected president was forced out by the military last weekend. World Neighbours Canada supports rural development programs in both countries – we are watching closely to see how these changes could affect the people we work with.
Honduras is facing multiple crises, with one of the highest murder rates in the world and huge numbers of people attempting to migrate to the United States. Gangs associated with drugs are pervasive. According to news reports, the outgoing president is expected to be indicted by US prosecutors on drug trafficking conspiracy charges. Supporters hope that President Castro will lead positive changes in the country, including less crime, less poverty, and more rights for women. However, the challenges she faces are immense. Before her government was even in place, several newly elected members of Congress defected from Castro’s party and elected their own congressional leader.
The people of Burkina Faso have faced increased attacks from terrorist groups believed to be associated with al-Qaeda and ISIS, a spillover from a conflict that started in Mali more than ten years ago. Recently there have been public protests, expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s inability to restore security in the country. Then on 24 January 2022, the military forced the president to resign, citing the same concerns as expressed by protesters.
The local organizations that partner with World Neighbours Canada in Honduras and Burkina Faso are still functioning normally, and they are experienced in managing through crises, whether political turmoil or natural disasters. We are hoping that the changes in government in both countries will lead to better governance eventually, but at present there is much uncertainty.
World Neighbours Canada is pleased to share some great news! We have been selected as one of 13 organizations in Canada to receive funding from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT) in its third round of projects.
Our project is in Burkina Faso, working with our longstanding partner organization in the eastern region. All FIT projects have a “testing” or research focus. In our case, we are testing a new approach to supporting women to be entrepreneurs in the fattening of sheep. This involves buying young sheep, raising them well with good care and feeding, and then selling them for a higher price. Compared to breeding and raising sheep, fattening entails lower risks and produces quicker income. Including other family members in the venture is a key part of the project.
The list of projects supported by FIT across Canada is interesting and impressive, and we are pleased to be part of this important initiative. See the full press release and complete list of funded projects here: FIT-Intake-3-Press-Release-.
World Neighbours Canada takes a practical approach – we want to help people achieve tangible improvements in their lives. Nonetheless it is useful to keep track of trends in international development from a wider perspective. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of attention paid to the “Sustainable Development Goals”. These goals were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015. There are 17 goals. Goal 1 is no poverty, Goal 2 is zero hunger, Goal 10 is reduced inequality and Goal 13 is climate action, to name a few. They are intended to apply to all countries, not just developing countries. And a key part of the concept is that all the goals are interconnected. The goals (often referred to as the “SDGs”) seem to be mentioned in just about every meeting and document that touches on international development. The high profile of the sustainable development goals has helped to draw attention to the struggles faced by people around the world who are trying to grow enough food for their needs, find enough water, and survive drought and other natural disasters.
World Neighbours Canada supports the goals, especially the ones central to our mission like no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and climate action. But we look at the goals from a “results on the ground” perspective. If our programs can be stronger by taking a more integrated approach – for example, the gender equality implications of increasing food crop production – we embrace the concept of the “SDGs.” Our partner organizations have a deep understanding of the connections between the different goals. For example, in Nepal our partner organization has been focusing on goal 6 – clean water and sanitation – but the outcomes they are aiming for are goals 3 (good health and well-being) and 6 (gender equality; women and girls do most of the water-carrying). In Burkina Faso, food security and child malnutrition are critical issues. Our partner organization works in an integrated way towards zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality and no poverty. In Honduras, our partner is embarking on a new initiative to provide entrepreneurial training and support for young people in rural areas, touching on goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and goal 4 (quality education). In every country, we have a long history of ecological approaches to agriculture, which fits with the environmental goal called life on land (number 15).
The Sustainable Development Goals provide a useful framework for a coordinated approach to the alleviation of poverty and better management of finite resources. World Neighbours Canada is inspired by these goals to support our partners in ensuring that people’s lives are impacted in meaningful ways, rather than focusing narrowly on specific outcomes.
We at World Neighbours Canada feel blessed and this New Years we wanted to share 20 reasons we feel so lucky. These are the reasons as submitted by our board members and volunteers.
I am grateful to all the people in Canada who support World Neighbours Canada year after year. Every donation, large and small, is appreciated and the moral support means as much to us as the financial support.
I am grateful to the staff and volunteers associated with our partner organizations in Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso for their tireless dedication to the alleviation of poverty. They are remarkable people who deeply understand the communities where they work and know how to help villagers achieve self-reliance and avoid dependency.
I’m grateful that the staff of our partner organization in Burkina Faso, (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés – APDC) AND those of our project villages have, to date, escaped being targeted by the Islamist insurgents in the Eastern region of the country. This is a huge concern for all living there and demonstrates the commitment of staff and villagers to implement changes that will improve their lives.
When our younger daughter died in 2006 she had said that she wanted some of her money to go to Nepal. We were thankful at that time and still are thankful to find World Neighbours. We knew right away we had found the right place to donate Rachel’s money. Water systems seemed so basic and the idea that all the money went to the people and the projects was very satisfying for us. It gave us a purpose and made us see some good coming out of the death of someone in the prime of her life.
I’m grateful for the opportunities my husband and I have had in the past to visit the Fada region of Burkina Faso to see firsthand the work this small local NGO is doing, teaching new skills to the villagers and sharing new ideas so that the beneficiaries are able to become more independent and improve the quality of their lives.
I’m grateful to be a part of World Neighbours Canada as I truly believe that the philosophy of “neighbour helping neighbour”, “a hand up not a hand out” is how lasting change can be achieved.
I’m grateful that World Neighbours Canada’s philosophy includes the notion that change occurs slowly, over generations, and as such we are committed to support our partner NGOs for the long haul.
I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve developed with the staff of APDC and admire and respect the commitment they all demonstrate in continuing to support the villagers during these turbulent and difficult times.
I’m grateful for the support I receive from the other directors of WNC, as this support enables me to complete the necessary reports that need to be submitted.
I’m grateful that Excel spreadsheet is still an acceptable form for accountants and government officials for tracking donations and expenses.
It is wonderful to have different directors responsible for each country project to liaise with and to solve any money transfer issues within their assigned country.
I am grateful I got to visit the projects in Honduras and meet the staff of Vecinos Honduras, who my father had worked with, admired, and told me so much about over the years.
I am grateful for the many service groups, and schools who have allowed us to come in and talk about our organization and the work of our partners.
I am grateful Suresh Shrestha, Executive Director of TSS, and Govinda Ghimire, Director on the TSS Board, were able to visit BC in 2019 and give presentations.
I am grateful for our member organization BCCIC (BC Council of International Cooperation) for the training sessions and other educational opportunities they offer. I have learned a lot.
I am grateful for those who read the articles (print or online), and click on the social media posts.
I am grateful for a federal government that understands that small NGO’s are some of the most effective groups in the world to affect positive change in the world, and continues to fund us. As with all funding, it could be greater and it could come with a little less paper work, but I am very grateful for what we get.
I am grateful for groups like Rotary in Oliver, Kamloops and Aldergrove who have been supportive and generous for many years.
I am grateful for my wife who lets me go traipsing through the mountains of Nepal on bad roads and in suspect vehicles.
I am grateful to know that the future can include positive change and I look to the upcoming year with hope.
With a donation to us you know that 100% of your donations will go to our projects run by our partners in Nepal, Honduras or Burkina Faso as we have no paid Canadian staff and our limited overhead is covered by the directors and GAC. Also , we will send out a personalized hand made card to the person of your choice!
The Canadian dollar goes a long way in our program areas. So, for the price of some chocolates you help someone build a smokeless stove. It is important to note that we do not just give items, our partners teach communities how to build and repair their own stoves and water systems as well as work to build capacity, gender equality, micro-lending opportunities, and improve maternal and child health.
An example of Material Costs:
$10 – Stovepipe for a smokeless stove (Honduras)
$25 – Materials for a family toilet (Nepal)
$50 – Treatment for one severely malnourished child (Burkina Faso)
$100 – Materials for one community market garden (Burkina Faso)
$100- One community faucet (Nepal)
$100 – Screening children in one village for malnutrition (Burkina Faso)
$300 – Training for a volunteer health monitor or mother guide (Honduras)
Despite the insecurity in Burkina Faso a great deal was accomplished by our partner organization APDC and the communities they work with. At a glance, here are just some of the activities and sessions that have taken place during the past year:
The development (adding stone bunds to undeveloped land) and planting of 186 hectares of land by 72 people including 16 women and 56 men. In this activity, women’s participation has increased significantly compared to previous years.
The development and planting of 3 hectares of lowland terrain with rice, in the village of Kpentouangou. 74 people including 67 women participated in this activity.
This result of the above is a big step forward in terms of access to resources (land) by women and a significant improvement in the gender equality domain.
The functioning of 6 vegetable gardens, including 2 new ones, which produced fresh vegetables, allowing for improved nutrition of children aged 6-59 months and pregnant and nursing women in those villages. Furthermore, the women have increased and diversified their income through the sale of excess vegetables grown.
23 women’s groups planted sweet potato and moringa cuttings in order to minimize malnutrition. Both of these plants are rich in vitamins and grow well in the Sahel, with limited water supply.
The dynamisation and functioning of 27 savings and credit groups which include 702 women. This enabled these women to mobilize a total of 5,436,850 West African francs (about $12,000 or approximately $17 per participant) to grant small loans to those in need and provide a means for the women to solve problems. (This seemingly small amount of money is critical to giving a woman some independence and the opportunity to solve a problem herself without needing her husband’s aid or permission.)
33 outdoor video projection sessions on gender and rights, gender and nutrition, gender and family planning strengthened the knowledge of 3,741 people in the 18 villages covered by the project. This will undoubtedly contribute to increased gender equity in the villages.
The training and retraining of 75 leaders (40 women and 35 men) on gender and women’s rights in 14 villages to continue to strengthen and improve gender equity.