FIU offers hope for Burkina Faso’s abandoned crop fields

FIU’s Global Waters for Sustainability Program (GLOWS) is bringing life to unhealthy and abandoned crop fields in Burkina Faso.

Loss of topsoil, soil erosion, lack of fertility and sloppy land topography had caused many rural farmers to abandon these fields nearly 10 years ago. They had lost hope of growing the major food staples their communities rely on, including pearl millet, sorghum and corn.

With traditionally unproductive subsistence agriculture, extreme climatic events, and labor-intensive production techniques, Burkina Faso is struggling to meet the food needs of its most vulnerable and quickly growing rural population.

“In Burkina Faso, as is the case in many African countries, food security is linked to agricultural and rural development,” said Lakhdar Boukerrou, regional director of the FIU/USAID West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Program  (WA-WASH) program. “Ninety percent of the rural population derives their livelihood from rain-fed agriculture. Their population is expected to double by 2050, further exacerbating food shortages for the most vulnerable of the rural people.”

In collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), GLOWS has provided Climate Smart Agriculture training to 900 farmers from 10 rural communities on how to integrate climate information in their farming activities. Climate Smart Agriculture is an approach to developing the technical, policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agriculture development for food security under climate change. Some farmers have also received additional training on how to better manage rainwater, control soil erosion and increase soil fertility in their fields. In eight months, 62 fields are already showing signs of good yields.

Nikiema Moustapha has successfully implemented Climate Smart Agriculture techniques in his corn field in the village of Tama, Burkina Faso.

Nikiema Moustapha has successfully implemented Climate Smart Agriculture techniques in his corn field in the village of Tama, Burkina Faso.

According to Boukerrou, the excess agricultural production is helping local farmers obtain better nutrition and generate income to support their families, send their children to school and obtain access to better health care.

“The way I am witnessing the growth of my corn, I think in the future I will no longer have to buy corn again,” said Nikiema Moustapha, a farmer from the village of Tama in Burkina Faso, who participated in Climate Smart Agriculture training.

GLOWS is a consortium of international organizations led by FIU, working to increase social, economic and environmental benefits to people of the developing world. It provides expertise across the policy, governance, educational and technical dimensions of integrated water resources management. GLOWS is an integral component of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society in the College of Arts & Sciences. It has conducted projects in Peru, Ecuador, India, Morocco, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Georgia in the Caucasus. Its WA-WASH program implements technologies and procedures to help increase access to safe water; enhance sanitation; improve hygiene; and assist in policy-making in Ghana, Niger and Burkina Faso.