Brock University biologist Liette Vasseur is among a team of experts awarded a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to reduce poverty in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.
The more than $3 million in funding aims to improve access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food in three regions of Burkina Faso by strengthening the capacities of trainers in centres for rural development located throughout the country.
These centres train women and men in agricultural practices in cooperation with local institutional partners and civil society organizations. The project will promote sustainable agriculture and support the training of about 230 people.
Vasseur’s role is to help trainers in the centres better understand how the communities’ activities impact the environment and to integrate that knowledge into the training. For instance, people taking the training will be made aware of how the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides can contaminate soil and water.
“Having been in Burkina Faso and understanding that agriculture is central to its economic development means that this project will significantly contribute to the country’s growth,” says Vasseur.
“Women in rural areas are targeted in this project as they are involved deeply in the agricultural system as producers and providers,” she says. “I’m quite excited to join our partners in helping them to build capacities at their level.”
The project is expected to boost the ability of small- and medium-sized agricultural producers and entrepreneurs - mainly women - to organize and improve food production in their communities.
The five-year project will involve farmers, civil society groups, and the Ministries of Agriculture and Water, Promotion of Women, and Youth, Professional Training, and Employment.
Burkina Faso ranks 181 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations’ Human Development Index, a composite measure of a nation’s health, education, and income indicators.
This past year, the country was hit hard by flooding, drought, high food prices, and the arrival of more than 100,000 refugees from neighbouring Mali. The World Food Program predicts good rainfalls and harvests in the next few months; however, food security remains fragile, as many households had to sell their livestock and other assets during the difficult times.