Diakonia - People change the world
Abdoulaye Barry (in blue) lives in the village Tanguiema with his 7 children. He is a small scale farmer, but the drought in Sahel has caused severe problems: "It becomes harder and harder for us to survive" he says. Photo: Ollivier Girard

Burkina Faso: Humanitarian relief to people affected by drought and hunger

Over 18 million people are estimated to be affected by the drought in the Sahel. In Burkina Faso Diakonia has taken the lead in a large ACT appeal. In our humanitarian relief effort we assist 56 600 people to get food and survive until the next harvest. Other ACT-members are also present and the coorination with them is making work more efficient.

10/8/2012 Publisher: Ingela Karlsson

No harvests and rising food prices

It was clear several months ago that the hunger would come and affect the already very vulnerable population in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world.

The unusually severe drought caused crop yields failed to materialize and now almost all in rural areas depend on being able to buy food from the local market. But the food prices are constantly raising and the situation of already poor families are now extremely tight.

What is the Sahel?: Food insecurity is large throughout the Sahel region, that includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Chad and Mauritania. In these already in poor countries many men and women are entirely dependent on their small farms and cattle. Naturally they are thus hit hard when the rains fail.

Hot water instead of food

Many families have reduced the number of meals per day from three to one. The quality of food has also gone down.

In some areas, such as Nasséré and Ganyela our mapping tells that 15 percent of the households no longer eat even one meal a day. Some people report that they drink hot water to suppress the hunger.

In the eastern parts of the country, partners are reciving reports about poor families trying to marry off their young daughters to wealthy men.

The families who have livestock or property to sell are trying to do it to get money for food.

The work of Diakonia and partners in Burkina Faso

The humanitarian relief effort is targeting approximately 56 600 people. It is part of the ACT Alliance appeal for Burkina Faso. The work on the ground is done by our local and well established partner organizations:

APME 2A: A national organization that normally works to help small farmers increase their harvests. They especially support women and young people in rural areas. For example, they are selling cereal to half the market price to 5000 people in Sanmatenga, Namentenga and Bam.

Tin Tua: Started as an organization for literacy, but has been working for several years with a broader approach and helps people achieve better living conditions. Tin Tua works primarily in eastern and central parts of Burkina Faso. As part of the current humanitarian effort TinTua distributes free food to 500 people in the eastern parts of the country and sells grain at reduced prices to 2500 people.

Rapped: A national children's rights organization that provides education and offer protection for vulnerable children. The organization's role now is to give children in camps with refugees from Mali support and protection. Food distribution to 3500 people in the provinces Kadiogo and Oudalan.

AEERB: Now working with food security in the province of Bam. Hands out 16 691 special nutritional kits for children under five years of age and provide 17 500 people with food. Works in most cases with health, education and food safety. Has experience in humanitarian efforts in the past.

AEERB is not a partner organization to Diakonia in the past, but has chosen to join Diakonia's work in this humanitarian effort as being a member of the ACT alliance.

Long-term work: Diakonia's normal long-term development work is an integral part of all our humanitarian efforts. In the case of Burkina Faso, this includes helping small farmers to find more drying-resistant seeds and better farming methods, proving support to small businesses that give people income and reduces vulnerability when drought strikes.

Refugees from Mali need food and shelter

After the coup d'etat and unrest in Mali tens of thousands of people has fled to neighboring Burkina Faso. On May 10, the Diakonia partner organization RAPPED reported that 56 000 people, half of them children, had arrived in the capital Ouagadougou to seek security. These refugees get special attention in the ongoing humanitarian work.

Coordination gives effective assistance

The international Organization Christian Aid is also doing humanitarian work in Burkina Faso and Diakonia coordinates with them so that the assistance reaches the familiens where it is most needed. Christian Aid's local partner organization ATAD for example, helps 1 600 people in the provinces Sanmatenga and Namentenga with new and more drying-resistant seeds.

The organizations Lutheran World Federation and ICCO are also in place and making a difference. Diakonia coordinates with them as well, so that we are as efficient as possible.