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Young men from Oualana.

Rains are still coming once a week which is rather late for where we are. This is good for some farmers who have seeded late but bad for others who have harvested and do not have  a proper place to store their products.

In Europe we throw away more than 30% of the food we buy even though we have the means to store it. On this side of the world, people lose more than 30% of their crops for the lack of means they have to store it. In Europe it is an excess of food, here it is something the villagers will sorely miss…

On Tuesday Emmanuel, Louis (my brother in law), and I  drove to the capital city Ouagadougou. Louis was going back to The Netherlands and we had several appointments.

One of the appointments was with the Dutch Ambassador in Burkina.  In July 2011 he came to our office in Bobo and we had a nice exchange, this meeting in Ouagadougou was a follow-up visit. The Dutch embassy is going to close in June 2013. The main activity of the embassy is to manage bilateral help (donations from the Dutch government to the Burkinabe Government). The Netherlands are (or were) the second largest donor of Burkina. The main reason of the closing of the embassy  is the lack of transparency in financial transactions and thus the difficulty to report on the usage of the funds and the results linked to the donation. The ambassador is not shy to say this in public and this is very refreshing.

During the meeting we have presented the new projects of ASAP: the Lycée Agricole Privé and the support to social businesses. The ambassador expressed his concerns about the young population of Burkina: 60% of the population is under 16 years old. He called it a time bomb.

The other concern he had was regarding ownership of the land in the country side. Today there is no simple way for a farmer to get a title for his land. First he does not know exactly the limits of his land and then the process to get the title is so complex and expensive that nobody tries to get it. A farmer today cannot go to the bank to borrow with his land title as a collateral. This is not good, but on the other hand if the titles where available, the danger that the banks become land owner is also another concern.

Last Christmas Emmanuel was in the bus going to Ouagadougou and he sat beside a white lady. While talking to her he found out that she was the wife of the ambassador coming back from a visit in Bobo. The French ambassador’s wife would have travelled by car with chauffeur. Another good example of the Dutch simplicity.

Another objective of our trip was to meet with a consulting firm to help us find a replacement for Désiré (an assistant to Emmanuel). We had a good exchange with 2 ladies from this company, but we were a bit surprised by the director(French). In 30 minutes we knew everything of his life, the problem of cash flow he had, the big projects he had been doing, some study for the government…. As Emmanuel said, we can now write a book on this person.

On our way back to Bobo we stopped at a shop where we bought 2 drip irrigation systems. One will be for the LAP and the other one for a garden in Bobo. The purpose of this purchase is to evaluate how difficult (or easy) it is to work with the drip irrigation and depending on the results to promote it or not.

On Friday was “Tabaski” or the sheep feast. Thousands and thousands of sheep are killed for this Muslim feast. Price of sheep goes way up as you get close to the time of Tabaski. It was a free day in Burkina. This allowed us to catch up with things.

Saturday we visited Oualana. One of the smallest villages in term of habitants, around 600. They have normally a rather good cohesion, but we could feel during this visit that something was not ok. It was only when we were eating lunch that we found out that the coming election was part of the problem.

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Sisters??

Early December there will be the election of representatives for the parliament and also the election for the mayor counsels. Every village has 2 representatives elected for this counsel, then the mayor is elected between the representatives. The candidates have to belong to a political party, they cannot be independent. On top of the village difficulties to work together, now politics are also introduced. You can imagine that this does not help. Representatives receive some money each time they get together, one of the current representative still wants to be elected when the others want him to quit. In Oualana there are 3 political parties represented. Hopefully this election will not bring additional division.

In 2012 we have conducted some sensing in the villages and of our 10 villages, Oualana is the village with the highest mortality rate of children under 5 years old.

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In the graph above it is clear that Sokourani and Kofila did not give us the right information.

The main reasons for death of young children are malaria, diarrhea and snake bites. Very often parents take too long before going to the medical dispensary which is only 3 km away from Oualana. They will first try with traditional medicine (no cost) before going to the dispensary. Often it is too late.

Mosquito nets can help for the malaria, better hygiene for the diarrhea and to have the surrounding of the houses clean of high grass for the snake. All the villagers know that, but now they have to apply themselves to it. This is another story.

The graph of the various villages kind  of gave a shock to the population. Hopefully some competitive spirit will help reduce the death of the children in Oualana.

Thanks to the sales of the book “bewogen voor Burkina” we are gathering funds for the mosquito nets project. We have funds to buy 900 today. They are distributed only to the women They have to pay 1.000 cfa per net (1,5 euro) the remaining 5 euro is paid by ASAP.

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Above a graph with the percentage of families missing mosquito nets.

Answer of the last week’s question: the picture was the flower of a teak tree.

Question of the week: what plant is this?

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In Oualana there are many different hats for the men, below a selection of them.

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With holes for cooling Simple baseball hat French “casquette”
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Traditional black Traditional white “let’s keep the brain warm” hat
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Cool baseball hat  Trendy hat

With the young girls there are also many way of doing their hair:

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Or wearing a scarf!

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Proverb of the week:

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.  Nigerian proverb

En cas de crise, les sages construisent des ponts et les idiots des barrages. Proverbe du Nigéria.

Until next week, à la semaine prochaine, tot volgende week.

Hervé

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