Hands, Dams and Watering Cans: Overcoming Drought in Burkina Faso

‘There are days when you have nothing in the stomach but you muddle through. You are drowning but you struggle hard to survive’— Sawadogo Alizeta

Louda Dam lies almost empty. Families in this area are struggling to cope with the adverse effects of climate change. During the dry season, around 250,000 people rely on water from the dam for their daily needs. According to Christian Aid partner, ATAD, there has been very little water in the dam for the last three years.

In the semi-arid areas of Burkina Faso, climate change is making farming even more difficult and unpredictable. Hence Christian Aid partners are working with communities so that they can tackle the challenges that they face, like uncertain rain patterns and lack of water. One part of the solution is a market garden —where women in particular learn new farming techniques to cope with the changing environment.

Sawadogo Alizeta, whose quote above describes the hunger she used to experience, explains the difference the project has made:

‘Nowadays with this activity even if we don’t have meal at home, I can sell the produce from my garden to buy food for my family, but before I had no source of income to buy cereal. Now we don’t have food problems.’

We think that’s fantastic.

Alizeta and her daughter now look after 113 rows in the market garden. The food they grow gives them a fuller, more varied diet, and they can also sell the surplus to earn a little extra money.

As a result, they’re tackling more than just hunger.

Creating her own income also gives Alizeta a stronger voice and means her husband respects her opinions more — she has the power to make decisions on how the money is spent. Now, she says that if she chooses to buy medicine or send her daughters to school, her husband respects that.

Alizeta’s daughter draws water from the well.
Women work at another market garden near Gourcy, supported by Christian Aid Partner Reseau MARP.

This blog was written for World Food Day, which focuses the world’s attention on hunger every 16th October. Find out more about the work that Christian Aid does every day to tackle hunger and poverty.

All images Christian Aid/Andrew Testa