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Burkina Faso: An Unprecedented Humanitarian Emergency, Warns the UN, by JCVD

Aug 29, 2019 | 0 comments

It’s not that at FAR we are alarmists, or repeaters or shocking headlines. We have written and sent hundreds of posts over this past decade with the sole purpose of helping the Friends of Rimkieta make sense of what’s going on over there… We’ve never run other headlines before, with the exception of one in September 2009, ten years ago, when the downpour left more than 300,000 people without a home, in the capital Ouagadougou alone… The UN has now announced a food shortage situation that 700,000 people in Burkina face…

Burkina’s internally displaced cause terrorist attacks in the Sahel area. Photo: abc24.ma

A classroom at one of Rimkieta’s schools where we scholarship children

 

The UN’s WFP (World Food Program) says that Burkina Faso is experiencing -and it will worsen- a deficit on food and nutrition that, due to various circumstances, will severely impact 700,000 of the 19 million inhabitants estimated to live in the country. It may not appear worthy of a headline that a mere 4% of an African nation is going to endure hunger…But it’s important to know how to interpret what 4% means over there, and what “hunger” really means.

The aforementioned 2009 disaster left without schooling (not to mention housing and possessions…) dozens of children from Rimkieta and pushed us to begin a scholarship project that schools 500 children and youths every year, from 9 years old until the completion of higher education for those who are capable… We already have 15 undergraduates, and one of them is about to graduate with an agricultural engineering degree and to start her master’s degree…

The UN now says that 700,000 Burkinabe are going to go hungry. Hunger. Hunger, in Burkina is surely suffered by millions of citizens each year, because the average yearly national income is lower than 1,000€, they lack the basic distribution and storage infrastructure and employ ancient agricultural tools, they have an extreme climate and a now weekly terrorism attacks… We can’t expect any other outcome. So the UN bureaucrats should spend some time in their shoes before announcing something that’s not much out of the ordinary. Furthermore, “hunger” over there is true, severe hunger. For millions of people, this will mean going from one “meal” a day to none, and, if they are lucky, a meal every two or three days…

FAR, as you know, has a project called the Cereal Bank, which, since its inauguration in 2005 through December 2018 had provided at a social price (specifically, a 10% discount from the market value at any given time) to the poorest women of Rimkieta and Zongo, approximately 1.6 million portions or daily corn-based rations for one person. This is more than 100,000 annual meals. This means that with a fund of between 20,000€ and 30,000€ and with total annual losses of between 2,000€ and 4,000€, 350 daily rations have been facilitated. We have managed this mainly by being attentive to the transactions (including various learning experiences on our part that did not always bear good results…) and maintaining rigorous control over all the Cereal Bank management processes.

FAR’s cereal bank

Robert, in charge of the cereal bank, records each sale with great rigor and professional control.

FAR’s scope of influence isn’t Burkina, but rather its purview is focused in Rimkieta: 100,000 inhabitants who are mostly very poor because it’s still a marginalized neighborhood that shelters many refugees, in the past because of the constant shift from the Sahel desert to the south, and nowadays, unfortunately, also due to terrorism orchestrated by AQMI and Boko-Haram…

The UN says that with 35 million dollars (around 30 million euros), they can manage from now until December… I don’t know how they do things over there, but with 6 million euros a month, which is about 200,000€ a day, I think I could solve the problem too and still have some thing left over.

There’s nothing like a private initiative rightly controlled by a public authority, for some things, at least… Let’s keep it up!