Read full article by WFP/Esther Ouoba @WFP West Africa PC:WFP
As we traveled to rural areas in November and December during field missions, I could see crops, mainly maize and millet, drying up on top of trees or roofs. I was also captivated by the joyful atmosphere of women or young girls surrounded by children who were pounding crops such as millet in front of mud houses or under the trees. They used a mortar and pestle made of hardwood to separate the grains from the millet ears, while sheep would be around expecting to catch bulks of millet ears flying out of the mortar with each stroke of the pestle.
In Burkina Faso, November marks the start of the harvest season. Depending on how much rains fell during the rainy season and other climate effects, barns will be filled up with crops and the head of the household would have the responsibility to manage the stock until the next harvest.
However, just a few months back, the situation was a bit worrisome. Women and men in rural areas were busy working in their fields growing crops and vegetables while eating sparingly their last food stock. For many of them, the barns had been empty for months and they had to borrow food or money with their generous neighbors.
This is a reality Mrs. Bagaya in Bam province (Centre-Nord region) is familiar with. A 60-year-old widow with eight children under her responsibility, she makes a living through small farming. Last year, she sowed ground peas, peanuts, and vegetables that women in her village commonly use for cooking. “As time went by, we noticed the rainfalls were not as expected. As a result, the plants did not grow and started to dry up. From that point, we could foresee that going through the next harvest would be very difficult.”
For the 60-year-old widow, having to reduce the number of meals from three to a single meal per day was more bearable than having to send her children up north to work at traditional goldmines. “That was what I used to do but this year I opted not to because of all the attacks and incidents that occurred at different gold sites. Getting millet, beans, and oil from WFP was such a relief! When you are 60, you do not have many choices, but I could not take the risk to lose my children.”