Like so many of its West African neighbors, Burkina Faso must constantly negotiate the needs of the agricultural activity which occupies nearly 80 percent of the population with a climate which provides insufficient rainfall, the need to produce commodity crops with the nutritional demands of its citizens.
An Africare study found that in Karangasso-Vigue- both one of Burkina’s best performing departments agriculturally, and the department with the highest rate of malnutrition in children, 95.7 percent of farmers raised cotton or maize. This lack of crop diversity led to the neglect of other crops such as sesame, cowpea, and garden vegetables which enhance food security and lead to better nutritional outcomes. In the department 42 percent of children under the age of five were underweight, and 40.7 percent were stunted.
The same study found that the 70,441 inhabitants of Karangasso-Vigue were served by only 119 wells. Each well had to serve 591 inhabitants rather than the 250 it was designed for, and many simply could not take the strain, with water-points often drying up during the dry season.
In 2007, The African Well Fund teamed up with Africare to construct seven wells between three villages. The purpose of the wells would be two-fold – they would provide much-needed water to the inhabitants of the three chosen villages, but they would also allow irrigated gardens to be constructed, giving villagers an opportunity to grow a more diverse range of crops for everyday consumption, even in the dry season. The sites chosen took women into special consideration, as the construction of new water-points would allow them to walk a shorter distance for water, and also to help with raising crops that would improve the health of their children.
In each of the villages – Karangasso-Vigue, Kouremagafesso, and Diosso- the community worked with Africare to dig the wells and build up the gardens. New irrigated canals controlled by pedal pumps replaced the inefficient watering of the gardens by ladle, and manure pits were established to provide organic fertilizer for the crops.
As the work progressed, Africare conducted educational outreach as well as monitoring the health of children of the affected villages. Over 1400 villagers benefited from the new sources of water, nearly 80 percent of children gained weight, and 90 percent of children had increased vitamin A levels after the introduction of the new crops.
Work Completed August 21st, 2009
People Served 1,400
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