Fatou Batta: African women promoting ecological agriculture and local food alternatives

Fatou Batta holding baby in Burkina Faso village.

Fatou Batta, Groundswell Co-Coordinator for West Africa.

Today, the 100th International Women’s Day, is the perfect time to honor Fatoumata Batta, Groundswell’s Co-Coordinator for West Africa. Fatou has made immeasurable contributions to the health and wellbeing of women in her native Burkina Faso as well as women-led initiatives across West Africa.

Fatou is presently leading a Groundswell program in eastern Burkina Faso that aims to strengthen a nascent network of local community based organizations and local non-governmental organizations in order that they might scale out proven agroecological practices and improve the food security of 29,500 rural families. This work focuses on improving the capacities of women farmers and strengthening women’s organizations to work collectively to improve income generation, food security, nutrition and gender equity.

At the same time, Fatou represents Groundswell on the steering committee of the “We are the Solution! Celebrating African Family Farming” campaign of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). Fatou and representatives of 15 organizations and networks of organizations of rural women recently met in Dakar, Senegal, where they worked to finalize and validate a strategic and effective framework for a three-year campaign on food sovereignty, organic agriculture in Africa and the role of women farmers. This campaign will help ensure that rural women’s associations in five West African countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Republic of Guinea, and Senegal) have the tools they need to preserve, improve, promote, and share their traditional agricultural knowledge and position it as a viable alternative to the “new green revolution” interventions, such as AGRA, that African farmers’ organizations are concerned will have similar long-term negative effects in Africa as they have in Asia and Latin America.

Women program participants watering their crops.

During a field visit in February, Fatou took this photo of women program participants watering their crops.

Finally, on April 1 and 2, as a panelist at a session on Food Solutions at the Pacific Northwest Funders Conference in Seattle, Fatou will share her experience with the “We are the Solution!” campaign as well as the major issues and challenges facing small-scale farmers in West Africa. Fatou’s voice at events like this one provides donors and participants with a well informed, African perspective on a proven, people-centered approach that enables rural women farmers and their families to improve their wellbeing as they regenerate their natural resources base and build a sustainable future.

After the conference, Fatou will stay in Seattle for two days (April 3 and 4) to meet with local groups interested in local food systems, agroecology, and sustainable development in West Africa. If you want to invite Fatou to speak to your group or attend a meeting that is already planned, please write us at info@groundswellinternational.org.

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