Red Cross community gardens fend off hunger in the Sahel
Oroukia Boulo, beneficiary/participant of Burkinabe Red Cross food security project, supported by the Spanish Red Cross, Yagha province. IFRC
In Niaptana, Burkina Faso, the Burkinabe Red Cross Society has set up two women’s groups with community gardens. The vegetables they grow there are a lifeline for families struggling with severe hunger. Reached after a long journey through the arid Sahel, the remote community’s garden is an oasis of colour, with its lush vegetables and women in colourful clothing hauling water from the well.
Oroukia Boulo, 54, and her husband have seven children. In normal years, their harvest fills three granaries, enough to feed their family throughout the long dry season. This year, they couldn’t fill one. The vegetables Boulo grows through the Red Cross project pulls her family back from the brink of starvation.
“This year the food situation is difficult for many people but because I’m on this project I can afford some expenses for my family, so we don’t feel it as bad as some others,” Boulo says.
She says many women in the village now want to join the group because they see how beneficial it is. “If the garden was not good you would not see people here, but look how many we are and all working hard, because it works. If I’m able in the future, I would like to increase production and set up a business selling my produce," says Boulo.
The Burkinabe Red Cross Society has given Boulo, and others like her, seeds and training in vegetable production. These vegetables are used by the farmers and also sold to neighbouring villages. This increases the farmers’ incomes and makes nutritious, affordable food available in the region.
Hortense Somba, food security program manager at the Burkinabe Red Cross Society, says food security has been a focus for the past eight years, with the support of the Spanish Red Cross. "Right now people across the Sahel region are facing severe hunger, but in the communities we’re supporting with vegetable gardens you can really see the difference it is making," says Somba
To support Red Cross operations in food insecure regions of the Sahel, please donate to the West Africa Food Crisis fund.