UNICEF PROGRAM AIMS TO PROTECT BURKINABES FROM DROUGHT
Project stresses farming techniques, varied diets
Courtesy of UNifeed
As drought continues to ravage the Sahel in West Africa, farmers in the arid rural hinterlands of Burkina Faso are faced with the grim realities of a poor crop yield. Despair, however, has been giving way to hope, as a new UNICEF supported program has helped farmers maximize their output and provide their communities with healthy food.
“The benefits are huge for us and the community in general, it allows us to feed our families better,” claims Kientego Sierotta, a mother who is participating in this program. “It also allows us to be a breadwinner for the family, we can help with our children's school fees, their health and also assist friends and family.”
Through this four year program, UNICEF is training farmers, mostly women, on how to grow fruits and vegetables that are essential for a healthy diet. While not an emergency measure, this program is insulating Burkinabes from the ongoing drought, and giving them more stability and predictability – a benefit not lost on program participants.
This program offers an important ray of hope in a Burkina Faso. To the north of the country lies Mali, a country engaged in a small scale civil war that has seen al-Qaeda linked militants take control of half the country. To Burkina Faso’s east, in Niger and Northern Nigeria, the Sahel drought has taken a devastating toll, leading to a flood of refugees taking shelter in less arid land.
UNICEF hopes that this program will relieve some of the tension of living in such difficult circumstances.
To some extent this appears to be working. “The nutritional situation of children before the setting up of the project was severe,” Kientego reports. “The children were falling sick regularly. But since we started to work here and the garden started producing vegetables, the children have been less sick and we have changed our diets."