Stakeholders Share Strategies to Advance Project That ‘Changes Your Life’
“Tanager is actually here to support a family business, which has translated into a variety of activities in Boucle du Mouhoun, Centre-Ouest, Hauts-Bassins, and Centre-Sud regions of Burkina Faso.”
So commented Jean Haro, technical advisor with Burkina Faso’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal, and Fisheries Resources, recently. He was referencing the objective of the Soutenir l’Exploitation Famaliales pour Lancer l’Elevage des Volailles et Valoriser l’Economie Rurale (SELEVER 2) project, which works for the inclusive transformation of Burkina Faso’s poultry sector, in part by building the capacity of small producers and connecting them to the market system. About 80 percent of the project participants fall into the small producer category. (A small producer is defined as one that keeps fewer than 200 heads of poultry and uses non-salaried family labor, per Burkina Faso’s Centre de Promotion de l’Aviculture Villageoise (CPAVI), or the Village Poultry Promotion Center. According to a 2020 discussion paper by the International Food Policy Research Institute, approximately 1 million smallholder poultry producers operate in Burkina Faso.)
Haro’s remarks came during an Oct. 20 stakeholder workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for the SELEVER 2 project. With the project midway through its six-year implementation period, the workshop was an opportunity for Tanager to share its progress thus far and brainstorm with partners on the path forward. Representatives from several government units attended, including from the Regional Directorates of Agriculture, Animal and Fisheries Resources, the Executive Secretariat of the National Food Security Council, and the Ministry in charge of the Promotion of Women, and the Ministry of Finance. Also present were representatives from microfinance institutions, non-governmental organizations, and leading businesses in the poultry sector.
Layered interventions for empowerment
Demand for local poultry exists in Burkina Faso. But several challenges confront small poultry producers, among them:
- The marginalization of women from market activities;
- The insufficient supply of poultry; and
- The weakness of the market system, including the limited availability of vaccines due in part to poor supply and distribution channels, lack of access for entrepreneurs to market information and poultry raising equipment, insufficient feed production to meet demand, and lack of access to financing. The current insecurity in the country exacerbates these issues.
Given that, “How can we network [small producers] to benefit from the resources [available] to be able to transform their lives?” asked Romain Kenfack, Tanager’s country representative for Burkina Faso.
From the perspective of SELEVER 2, the answer is to layer a set of integrated interventions that will develop the poultry sector; promote women’s empowerment and gender equality, which could enable more women to participate in the poultry sector and build their economic empowerment; and increase the equitable consumption of healthy and nutritious foods. The project has accomplished the following as part of those interventions:
- Established 1,489 EBENE (Ecole du Bien Etre, de la Nutrition et de l’Equité, or the School of Well-Being, Nutrition and Equity) groups for men, which help husbands in rural communities forge deeper relationships with their families, learn more about nutrition, and understand the value of their wives engaging in poultry production
- Formed 1,167 village savings and loans groups, which simultaneously offer women the opportunity to develop self-governance skills and act as intervention points where they could receive training on poultry production, nutrition, and more
- Trained 4,000 small producers on poultry husbandry and health, as well as on nutrition, hygiene, and gender empowerment issues. About 45 percent, or 1,800, of these were women.
Other interventions work with those already in the poultry market, offering hygiene and nutrition training to poultry processors, providing investment into select small and medium enterprises, and more.
‘Many things have changed’
Three years in, the interventions have resulted in a range of socioeconomic changes, for both communities and individuals working with Tanager. Several project participants spoke at the workshop of their experiences. Sanda Bere, a 43-year-old EBENE member from the Boucle du Mouhoun region, noted how the members of his EBENE group began proactively cleaning areas of their village after the group discussed the idea of making commitments for self- and community improvement. The group also raised money to construct a junior high school and to supply the village pharmacy.
Bere personally has also counseled other villagers who requested his advice. “I was empowered because the training strengthened me and my capacities,” he said. “I learned a lot and used what I learned during the training sessions to help.”
Julienne Kinda, meanwhile, spoke of the success of the recently formed AVEAB association of village vaccinators. Though the group had started with only 17 members (including Kinda herself), it now numbered 80 individuals, who had vaccinated more than 600,000 heads of poultry and regularly linking producers to finance institution and offered training on poultry production to women and men alike.
Poultry producer Ousseini Boromo has purchased vaccines and received training from Kinda. “What I didn’t know before, thanks to Mme. Kinda’s interventions, I now know. Today I can have quality chicks, I know how to produce animal feed, and even at point of sales, she’s the one who follows up and makes sure what we’re doing is of good quality,” he relayed. “In my life, many things have changed. I am really, really happy.”
Strategies and next steps
Which is not to say that the project is without its challenges. Village vaccinators are often prevented by law from practicing certain aspects of veterinary care, but many locales lack a veterinarian who can serve small poultry producers. Literacy issues can hamper the tracking of money in village savings and loan groups. Poultry-producing households would rather sell their chickens for profit than eat any for nutrition purposes.
Workshop attendees shared several strategies and next steps to address these challenges. These included:
- Continuing education for poultry producers on the nutritional benefits of consuming chicken and eggs;
- Training more village vaccinators to serve small producers;
- Revising the animal health code to take village vaccinator roles into account;
- Connecting local microfinance institutions with village savings and loans group to assist with collecting women’s savings;
- Establishing an early warning system against poultry diseases; and
- Involving decentralized state units to ensure long-term project sustainability.
The work continues for Tanager and the SELEVER 2 project. But project participants are seeing the impacts: “The SELEVER  project is really good. It changes your life,” said EBENE member Kouliga Sia, a 47-year-old husband and father who hails from the Centre-Sud region.