Burkina Faso: when the harvest is not sufficient to feed the children
In Burkina Faso, climate change has led to drought and flooding and crops are attacked by plagues such as locusts. These crises affect the poorest people’s already scarce resources. Children under five are especially hit by malnutrition. Terre des hommes (Tdh), in a consortium with other organisations, promotes the best use of resources by helping the people with tools and training so they can build up a more promising future.
“There are many high winds, it hardly ever rains and our soil isn’t fertile anymore”, says Noufou, a farmer in the Boucle du Mouhoun in the North-West of Burkina Faso, as he looks at the dry plains. Such situations lead to a lack of harvest which can easily cause malnutrition in children under five.
In our fight against food insecurity, Tdh carries out malnutrition screenings to prevent and identify malnutrition in children. Barakissa has brought her baby to be weighed. She says: “Compared to before, the situation really has changed. Some illnesses have declined, especially those affecting our children. They used to lose weight and were malnourished, but that’s over now, thanks to the gruel we have been taught to prepare for them. Now they can eat their fill.”
Barakissa and the other mothers take part in the training courses run by Tdh health workers on cooking practices and on the specific need for feeding babies suitably according to their age. This all contributes to reducing all forms of malnutrition. The project benefited more than 6000 children in a year.
Improving the families’ wellbeing
Besides the climate vagaries that jeopardise their crops and livestock, the families in the Boucle du Mouhoun are also faced with difficult access to healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation, which can cause the vectors of disease.
In the villages, we installed eight community vegetable gardens with irrigation wells in 2018 to improve nutrition and handed out small animals to regenerate the livestock. In addition, we helped the farmers to install natural water storage places for watering the livestock in several communes. Around 2000 poor people could improve their situation within a year: they diversified the nutrition of their families, used the wells only for humans and therefore reduced the spread of disease. They were even able to use a part of the harvest for the schooling and health of their children. By composting the soil, better crops were generated.
The idea of the project is to give the people the tools and skills to escape poverty by themselves. “When someone gives you help, it’s important that you make an effort to succeed. With this support, we’ll work hard that the hens will multiply and like that we’ll eat better and can sell some products to meet our needs”, says one of the inhabitants.
By the end of this year, 65,000 children will have benefitted from this project, which was launched in 2017. In order to strengthen the long-term stability, we encourage the development of policies at a local level.
Climate crises are steadily increasing and affect the poorest people most. Let us now rally to help them!
Photo credit : © Tdh/Ollivier Girard