‘Everyone seeks his donkey’: Farming autonomy
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.
Here can be seen Fatimata with her donkey pulling a cart for water transportation.