From internally displaced person to independent market gardener, the example of Kadi and her friends
For several years, recurrent attacks in several areas of Burkina Faso have claimed many lives, both military and civilian. The Sahel region, located in the far north of the country and bordering Mali and Niger, is one of the areas where residents are bearing the brunt of insecurity. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes towards urban centers considered more secure. As a result, the North Center region, currently hosts 414,651 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) out of 1,121,960 recorded across the country.
After yet another deadly raid by armed groups against her village, Guiré Kadi, in her 30s, originally from Arbinda, fled to Kaya with her four children and other members of her community. They found hospitality within a welcoming population, but in such circumstances, the meager resources the community lives on evaporate very quickly and many have fallen into precarity. Fortunately, Kadi received food assistance (albeit insufficient) from aid workers there. The case of Kadi’s family is not isolated, as the town of Kaya, North Center Province capital, hosts many IDPs, most of them staying with host families.
Aware of the urgency of the situation, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which operates in the North Center region since 2019 as part of the strengthening of the integrated presence of the United Nations System in the field, initiated a project to support Income Generating Activities (IGA) of vulnerable populations in order to strengthen their resilience and ensure their rapid recovery in the face of this crisis. The project is implemented in partnership with a local NGO: the Association for the Promotion of Local Initiatives (APIL). Support is extended both to women like Kadi, but also women in host communities who have shared their meager resources with those who fled the violence.
Thanks to the funds granted in December 2019, Kadi and about thirty other women chose, among the various income generating activities, to farm a plot of land of about 0.5 hectares for market gardening. This space was entrusted to them by Ouédraogo Inoussa, a generous landowner sensitive to the situation of IDPs. With support from a UNDP grant, Kadi and her friends, acquired a motor pump to facilitate the irrigation of their land and other work tools such as shovels, watering cans and wheelbarrows as well as wire mesh to fence the field.
Four months later, results were visible. The arid land has become a garden site where salads, eggplants, corn, onions, chillis, tomatoes, cucumbers and sorrel are growing well and now supply the markets of Kaya. The farmers achieve a turnover of 68 million XOF and each market gardener pocketed 485,000 XOF (USD 900) in net profit. The garden field has grown from 0.5 to 2.5 hectares, around twenty other women have joined the group and the gardening activity supports more than fifty households. Kadi has started renting a decent house for her family and her little girl now goes to school and is well integrated with other children in her class.
“With the support I received from UNDP, my life has changed. Our first harvests helped us pay for basic necessities like oil, soap, firewood and children’s clothes. Now I can pay my rent and my daughter goes to school. We can even consume some of our products! We continue to produce enough and plan to soon transform our products,” Kadi explains with a smile.
The positive experience gained from Kadi’s group amongst growing needs in the area have encouraged UNDP to pursue other resilience and social cohesion strengthening projects in North Center Province.
The story of Kadi and her friends shows that, with a minimum of support, women are able to transform their lives and to become economically independent. It also shows how these women have become ambassadors of peace and social cohesion through union and solidarity.
The efforts deployed on the ground by UNDP and partners have an impact on the lives of those receiving support. From a distressing situation at the outset, these displaced women were able to develop their resilience capacities and become autonomous: they now represent models for communities in Burkina Faso and the Sahel.