Used as a moisturiser since I was born, I never had any clue of how and where Shea butter came from.tThanks to GNDR, I discovered shea butter’s production process during a learning exchange visit in Burkina Faso as part of the implementation of the programme “Institutionalising Community-based Disaster Risk Management” (CBDRM).
After the first learning exchange\ and the sharing of lessons learned in Tillabéri, Niger, on 7th to 9th August, it was the turn of the Union of women groups Ce Dwane Nyee (UGF/CDN) of Burkina Faso to demonstrate that its community initiative deserved its place in the list of the 25 best disaster risk management case studies that were selected across Africa. Like the initiative of the ADPE Bonferey group that restored Féri-Féri Hill in Niger, this project in Réo confirmed that women are at the heart of community development and key actors in environmental protectionThe shea butter is produced and exported worldwide by the group of women, and has been identified by the Production Unit Manager of UGF/CDN, Marie Bayala Kanzoulé as the “gold of Faso women”. Coordinated by GNDR’s national partner Réseau Marp Burkina, this visit is a testimony that the protection of the environment as well as sustainable social & economic community development are not contradictory. In fact, the Dwi NYE group, which was collecting shea nuts in the past with no means of subsistence, is now able to make 350000 Francs (CFA) per harvest. L’UGF/CDN works with over 6000 women, organised in 52 groups across Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and related disasters. This has undoubtedly pushed UGF/CDN members to invest in developing a community initiative to preserve the environment by promoting and growing shea and endangered plant species in the area.
The project was implemented in the county of Réo, an urban municipality of Burkina Faso, within the Western central part of the country. In this area, the shea tree that grows slowly is endangered by human activities and the diverse consequences of climate change.
Women and young people of the region collected shea kernels, an activity that enables the surrounding communities to fight poverty. In order to preserve "shea" as a resource, UGF/CDN women are engaged in a number of conservation activities including shea park development, the preservation of endangered plant species, agroforestry, sustainable land and natural resource management, assisted natural regeneration, reforestation and transplantation.
The engagement of the municipality of Kyon encourages the institutionalisation and sustainability of this project. “It is because of our partnership with UGF-CDN that our city is emerging” said proudly Philomène Badolo, Deputy Mayor of Kyon. This point of view was confirmed by the Mayor during our visit at the Shea parklands with communities by adding “We (local authorities) are ready to continue our engagement, this project should be integrated to our development communal plan to ensure its sustainability”.
“No initiative can be successful if it’s not supported by local authorities” said Adessou Kossivi, Regional Development Coordinator of GNDR for West and Central Africa.
This example of an initiative led by the women Gourounsi of Réo had such a great impact on the participants of the learning exchange that one participant from Niger promised to share this discovery with the Touaregs women of Agadez.
As the visit came to an end, the participants from Niger received gift bags of Moringa and Baobab seeds given by UGF/CDN’s Coordinator, Bantiono Bahiomé,to the head of ADPE Bonferey group, Alzuma Himero Moukila. This was welcomed by the igeri independent expert Zakary Souley Bana who thanked “his brothers of Faso for this gesture, which impact will have the life span of a baobab tree.”
In view of the determination of Mr. Himero and the members of ADPE Bonferey group, the Féri Féri hill is ready to become a baobab park in the years to come”. Thanks to GNDR’s network for initiating and facilitating South/South cooperation! The UGF/CDN applying the recommendations of the participants during the exchange visit, decided to obtain the necessary administrative documents to secure the parcels of land already acquired.
This very enriching visit proved us that with the active participation of its members and good planning, any attempt at community resilience can constitute real economic leverage, and that development based on local natural resources is the best way to perpetuate any activity.
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Written by Ibra Cassis