It has been a very busy week with visits to 3 villages and one meeting of women in Bobo.
Women in the villages have 2 main picking activities: karité (Shea) nuts and Néré fruits. Shea nuts are mainly picked up between July and August. For the Néré it is April / May. Néré trees are hugged trees and women are going to the fields with a long stick in order to collect the bean type fruits. Néré fruit contains a yellow powder and black seeds. The seeds are prepared to make a type of paste (very smelly) called Sumbala which is used to make sauces. Sumbala has a lot of proteins. The yellow powder can be used to feed pigs for example, but when the food is missing, people are eating it mixed in water. Right now, there is little food and the Néré output is very welcome.
We will try to extend the picking activities to the Nem trees. The seeds of this tree can give a very good biological insecticide. We have asked some villages to collect some for us so that we can do some tests.
Tuesday we went to discuss with the members of Opurkina (cereal cooperative we have helped to start in 2008) in the village of Sokourani. Because of many problems between members and also with the environment in the village, Opurkina is slowly but surely stopping. A large silo which was built for them is their only asset and its sale will enable them to pay back part of the debt they have with ASAP and with other private investors. Working together is not a sure thing for men. Lack of transparency with money is one of the major problems. However, women and land rights are also very important.
Some members of Opurkina:
Wednesday we went to the village of Mogobasso. We have a farm there of 6 Ha. Since the beginning we have had problem to run it properly. What was supposed to be an example to other farmers became a farm to produce certified seeds. The village environment is not helping. Since we are cultivating earlier than the other farmers, their animals are not attached and they have come to eat the plant coming out of the ground. We have tried everything to make them control their animals without success. So this year we have adopted a new strategy. Since we cannot take advantage on our own of the farm, we have proposed to offer (against a small fee) part of the fields to the associations of the village. For example the parents association of the school could get some revenue for the school from cultivating a certain surface , women association of the nursery school could get some food (mil or beans) for the kids of the nursery school. We would keep only a couple of hectare to pay for the guard / farmer we would have to put there. Since the villagers are involved in the culture of the farm, we would expect that they will keep the animals under control. Between all the animals, goats are the worse. I am trying very hard to find a project where all goats would be or under control or eliminated. At the end of the talk with the villagers, an old man stood up and start to talk to me in local language. He was telling me that he knew that this idea was from me and that I wanted to see if when the villagers were involved if they could do something about the animals. I could only say that he was right. Let ‘see what will happen.
Thursday we were in the village of Kofila and in the nearby LAP (secondary school we have opened in October 2011)
In Kofila we had to position a new house for the second primary school of this village and to look at some preparation work needed before we do some upgrading at the first school of this village.
At the same time, Désiré was with a journalist / cameraman / sound man… also in Kofila. We have started a project of latrines and thanks to AKVO (www.akvo.org), a film is being made on this project. It is funny how the activity around the latrines in the village made a lot of men wanting to have one. All the talk we had before on latrines did not mean much to them, but the fact that a film was made, made them want one!!!!!! May be we have to use the film trick for other projects?
The visit at the LAP was to discuss various issues with the director. One of them is the lack of enthusiasm of the villagers to provide manpower for the construction as we are coming to the rainy season. Since the project calls for construction each year until 2017, it might be difficult to motivate them for so long. We will offer them the possibility or to work on the site or to pay a fee instead. This fee will enable the contractor to hire personnel. It will also be easier for him to plan the work force.
Friday we had a meeting with 30 women from the 10 villages where we are active. It was to discuss the role of MKYS (Musso Ka Yiriwali So = house of development of the women). With a French pronunciation MKYS = « aime kiss », nice for women, no? It was the first meeting of this kind for Bakary Traoré who is the new head of this social economical project. Not easy to be able to give a lot of information in a rather short time with 30 women and 15 young kids in the room.
Along the way to the villages we could see some of the houses with a stripe of grey (ashes with water). It is to prevent diseases to come into the house. Very often it is done when meningitis epidemic is in the village. In this case it was only in one of the quarters of the village and we could not find out its objective.
Mangos do not cost much here. For villagers (kids in particular)they are free and it is a feast: something to eat. Price of goods in Burkina are going up and up. Price of 20 litres vegetable oil was 16.000 cfa two weeks ago. It went up to 17.500 today. It is the same for rice. Price of gasoline has also increased a lot. It is now 1,12 euro per litre. When you know that the minimum salary is 50 euro per month, gasoline is really expensive in comparison. Mainly for people in town, the crisis has a lot of impact, much greater than what we can feel in Europe.
Proverb of the week:
The foolish bird builds a nest in a dead tree and does not know it will be cut down. L’oiseau bête construit son nid dans un arbre mort sans savoir que cet arbre sera coupé.
Only one more week and we will be on our way home.
Each day is a new life, make the most of it.