Located in the interior of West Africa, Burkina Faso covers an area of 272 967 km² and has a population of approximately 23.3 mil people (UNDP 2023), 43% of whom are between 0 and 14 years old. Once considered a relatively stable country, it has been going through a series of institutional and social crises in recent years that have profoundly changed its political landscape. Moreover, being in the orbit of Islamic terrorism, it is affected by infiltrations by extremists who destabilise mainly the regions bordering Mali and Niger, but also the capital Ouagadougou, which was hit by a serious attack in January 2016.
The humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso in 2023 is more worrying than ever. One in 5 Burkinabè, or 4.7 million people, is in need of humanitarian aid and about one in 10 Burkinabè, or 1.9 million people, are internally displaced due to natural disasters or lack of food. The needs of the affected people have increased in terms of severity and geographical extent since 2022. National plans to strengthen food and nutrition security and reduce poverty aim to address key elements affecting many families and children under five :
- The poor agricultural production due to land degradation combined with the lack of awareness and adoption of improved agricultural practices and soil fertilisation ;
- The poor nutritional status of the population (children under the age of 5 and pregnant and lactating women), which is explained by the high number of children aged 6-59 months suffering from acute malnutrition, about 10% more cases than in the last analysis (Oct 2020-Jul 2021) and an increase in Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases by more than 18% since last year;
- The lack of training to support the development of income-generating activities (IGAs), which are virtually non-existent. These factors are leading to a deterioration of livelihoods and social cohesion. Low household incomes can be partly explained by low productivity combined with post-harvest losses, instability in the market for agricultural products, selling at low prices and poor diversification of income sources.
NutriAid has been active in Burkina Faso since 2016 where it implements programmes to fight child malnutrition in particular in support of farmers in Ziniarè and Zitenga, two communities located in a satellite area of the capital Ougadougou. In the identified cultivation sites entrusted by the regional development plans to farmers' cooperatives, crops were put into production using traditional agricultural techniques, improving their performance through technical training and the distribution of improved seeds.
The choice is guided by the fact that these techniques have evolved in the local context and are therefore already part of the collective cultural heritage. They are also based on simple, easily applicable technologies that do not require the introduction of external elements. They also have the advantage of being characterised by low running costs and reduced environmental impact. The project, financed by the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, has produced results with respect to objectives related to food security, strengthening the productive capacities of small-scale farmers, recovering degraded land and promoting good food practices and sustainable development dynamics.