Burkina Faso 3-year action plan under development
During the last week of February, Groundswell’s Co-coordinators for West Africa, Fatou Batta and Peter Gubbels, facilitated a workshop with local organizations in eastern Burkina Faso to develop a three-year action plan. The plan focuses on working with peasant associations and women’s groups to promote and expand agroecological production, improve food security and strengthen local food systems. In addition Groundswell hopes to strengthen a network of local organizations to advocate for agroecology as an effective model to overcome poverty and as an alternative to approaches that promote costly dependence on high levels of external inputs (fertilizers, genetically modified seeds) and that focus on exports instead of local needs.
Eastern Burkina Faso has three distinct agroecological zones defined by INERA (Institut de l’Environnement et Recherches Agricoles), an agricultural research institute, based on rainfall, dominant crops, soil and farming systems. Over the years, Fatou has worked extensively in Gnagna Province, which is in the first and northern most agro ecological zone, characterized by lower rainfall, higher rates of erosion and desertification, and lower levels of vegetative cover. Our program will likely be sited in the second agroecological zone between the much drier north and the more forested third agroecological zone in the south. Within this second agroecological zone we have identified a number of provinces and departments in which our potential partners have existing programs that merit documentation and expansion.
During Fatou’s and Peter’s village visits they learned that many families have migrated from the north (Gnagna Province) because of desertification and environmental degradation. As a result, we are confident that the agroecological innovations already being developed in the northern most agroecological zone can be adapted to the second agroecological zone, complementing the effective innovations already developed there by villagers and potential partner organizations. Similarly, there are more agroforestry and forest protection related innovations in the southern (third agro ecological zone), where some of our potential partners also work, that could be applied in the second zone.
Though we are still in a process of dialogue and planning, outlines of a program strategy are emerging. We will likely collaborate with three local NGOs, a number of peasant associations, and INERA. Successful but small-scale examples of agroecological production currently exist in eastern Burkina Faso, but their adoption is limited. Groundswell hopes to support partners to spread these approaches widely across families and communities by providing support and strengthening a local network for learning and coordination. Look for more details soon as we work to launch this program in 2010.