Monday, June 15, 2009

My job

I realise that I haven’t really described what I am doing here, in detail. In truth, it took a while to find out for myself. But I think after about half a year I have a clear idea.

My title is “chargé de mise en valeur”, which means responsible for the valorisation activities. The programme I am working in has activities in water availability (such as the provision of water wells), but also, once water is available, activities to capitalise this for the development of the area or village are possible. The most important examples of these activities are vegetable growing and rice production.

Vegetable and rice production are commercial agricultural activities, and not easy. First of all there are all the technical aspects: production techniques, the weather which we can’t control, and constraints on water and inputs availability. Giving villagers willing to produce vegetables or rice the knowledge how to do so is one of the main activities in this aspect. But once harvesting time comes around, another aspect appears: commercialisation. It is not enough to grow onions, to make a living you have to be able to sell them too! And this is an aspect with which we are struggling with right now.

It is a difficult subject, because the world of food production is becoming increasingly globalised and producers here have to compete with rice from taiwan and tomatoes from ghana. We are looking at ways to try and make these agricultural activities profitable and sustainable for these small farmers we are working with. Not an easy task, but interesting and challenging...

Thursday, June 4, 2009


In Burkina Faso, as in many parts of Africa, there are many colorful proverbs which are based on daily life situations, just as they are at home. However, as I come from a different cultural background, I don't always understand what they mean immediately. Here are two I tried to translate and share with you, and an attempt to explain them. I think they give a nice impression of the local way of thinking and speaking...

The mother is there, so is the child. Now all we need is the rain

There is knowledge, and there is strength. Wether the undertaking is a succes is now a matter of luck.

If they wash your back, you yourself should wash your stomach

Even if you receive help you should do your own best as well.

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