‘Ev­ery­one seeks his don­key’: Farm­ing au­ton­omy

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY AB­DOULAYE TAO

The city of Boromo is a must for all those head­ing from the po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal (Oua­gadougou) to the eco­nomic cap­i­tal. Fa­mous for its grilled chicken and its bread baked in tra­di­tional ovens, Boromo is less well-known for an in­ter­est­ing ini­tia­tive that is be­ing car­ried out there; one that brings joy to many farm­ers and that de­serves to be known and sup­ported. Some lo­cal pro­duc­ers are now able to af­ford a don­key; an an­i­mal es­sen­tial for field work and the trans­porta­tion of crops, thanks to an orig­i­nal sys­tem of ze­roin­t­er­est mi­cro­cre­dit. 40,000 CAD (US$32,548), with­out in­ter­est.

At this price, “Ev­ery­one seeks his don­key.” This is the name of the pro­ject, which has been im­ple­mented since 2009 and funded by donors from France via rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Own­ing a don­key is not a given for the poor ru­ral pop­u­la­tion, who of­ten don’t have sig­nif­i­cant in­come. And yet don­keys are es­sen­tial for sur­vival in the rugged en­vi­ron­ment. In Boromo, not far from the place that will now serve as the of­fi­cial head­quar­ters of the “Ev­ery­one seeks his don­key” as­so­ci­a­tion, there is a wa­ter foun­tain. Here peo­ple get into line in or­der of ar­rival to fill their tin cans or their bar­rel. In the ranks, there are two don­keys pulling a cart with tens of cans.

With one trip, Fa­ti­mata Oue­draogo’s fam­ily is able to en­sure its wa­ter con­sump­tion for sev­eral days. No need to walk to the wa­ter foun­tain sev­eral times a day. Through the ac­qui­si­tion of a don­key, as re­cently as Jan­uary 2015, the is­sue of wa­ter sup­ply is no longer a source of an­guish for the fam­ily. It is a great re­lief for them.

Fa­ti­mata was reg­is­tered on the wait­ing list of ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pro­gram a few months ago, and is now a re­lieved woman. With the hours saved, she can now de­vote her time to other ac­tiv­i­ties, such as col­lect­ing fire­wood for the kitchen. But one of the main ben­e­fits of own­ing a don­key is its con­tri­bu­tion to agri­cul­tural la­bor as a draft an­i­mal (hoe­ing, plow­ing and trans­porta­tion of the harvest).

While Fa­ti­mata Oue­draogo is a re­cent ben­e­fi­ciary of the pro­gram, Noumassi Ti­aho, a farmer based in Ouroubonon vil­lage, 5 kilo­me­ters from Boromo, prides him­self on hav­ing been one of the first in his com­mu­nity to re­ceive a don­key. He still re­mem­bers it: “I got my don­key four years ago and Laure Berthon (in charge of ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­la­tions with Burk­ina Faso) was there. I was the very first re­cip­i­ent of the as­so­ci­a­tion in my vil­lage. Af­ter the first ex­pe­ri­ence with Ya­couba Sawadogo’s fam­ily, I heard that his friends wanted to set up a sys­tem to help those who could not af­ford to buy a don­key, that’s why I signed up.”

Since then, nearly a hun­dred peo­ple have ben­e­fited from the op­er­a­tion. Cur­rently, six peo­ple are seek­ing to pur­chase their don­keys and 15 oth­ers are on the wait­ing list. The sys­tem is sim­ple, says Souley­mane Il­boudo, co­or­di­na­tor of the as­so­ci­a­tion in Boromo: “Farm­ers sign up at lo­cal level on a list. When our friends in France are able to raise some funds for a num­ber of an­i­mals, we pro­ceed to al­lo­ca­tion. But it is the farmer him­self who goes to buy his don­key and the pro­gram pays for him. We have a mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that al­lows the ben­e­fi­ciary to pay in in­stall­ments and the pro­gram also deals with vet­eri­nary care dur­ing the pay­ment pe­riod.”

Pay­ment in in­stall­ments, de­spite some un­cer­tain­ties in­her­ent in such oper­a­tions, works well, ex­plained Boureima Sougue, ben­e­fi­ciary of the pro­gram and a pain­ter in his spare time. “The farm­ers al­ways pay back their al­lo­ca­tion, but there can be de­lays, es­pe­cially when the ben­e­fi­ciary falls sick.” The pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion “Ev­ery­one seeks his don­key Burk­ina Faso,” Mal­ick Sawadogo, is more spe­cific: “In prin­ci­ple, the ben­e­fi­cia­ries pay 3,200 CFA per month over 12 months. But it can hap­pen that we can’t find him or he doesn’t have the money yet. These cases hap­pen in vil­lages where farm­ers do not have enough in­come-gen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. “

In Boromo, the epi­cen­ter of the pro­gram, “there are no such prob­lems, and some ben­e­fi­cia­ries even set­tle their re­pay­ment of the don­key be­fore it’s due,” says the co­or­di­na­tor. Now op­er­a­tional since 5 years, “Ev­ery­one seeks his don­key” is di­ver­si­fy­ing its ac­tiv­i­ties and the as­so­ci­a­tion has come up with a new ini­tia­tive: “shared carts.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion tries to pair each don­key with a cart and plow, which are in­dis­pens­able in or­der to make the pro­ducer in­de­pen­dent. This time the of­fer is aimed at fam­i­lies who have al­ready re­ceived a don­key. They are obliged to form groups of 5 in or­der to ben­e­fit from a free cart and plow. 19 carts and 22 plows have al­ready been dis­trib­uted. For the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, em­pow­er­ment is in process.

L’Economiste du Faso

Here can be seen Fa­ti­mata with her don­key pulling a cart for wa­ter trans­porta­tion.

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