Cultivating renewal and resilience in Burkina Faso

Elisabeth, 60, comes from one of the many villages in northern Burkina Faso that are currently in the hands of terrorist groups. For three years she has resisted the jihadists, seeking stability. But fearing for her safety, she decided to flee to the south:

The level of violence and cruelty of the terrorist groups had become so high…Everybody had become a target, the entire civilian population. They came at night, shot everywhere, killed and raped, stole everything they could and ran away. It was at this point that I decided to run away for good.” 

The security situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated considerably in recent months. Jihadists now control most of the country’s territory, with their stronghold in the north-east extending to the south-east and west. As a result of the growing insecurity in the north, an estimated 1 to 2 million people are fleeing to the central and southern regions of the country, including the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, where the Good Shepherd Sisters work. Most of those fleeing are women and children, many of whom have experienced violence and suffered psychological trauma. 

Fleeing from the violent terrorist attacks, Elisabeth arrived in Bobo-Dioulasso with no home, job or social network to support her. She lost her husband and, like many other women in her situation, had to support her family and children on her own. Upon her arrival, she was able to join the agricultural program started by the Good Shepherd Sisters. 

Through this program, displaced women can earn an income from agriculture, acquire technical skills, and build a new social network. The field harvest is divided into two parts: one part is allocated to the women and their families and the other part is sold at the local fruit and vegetable market. Income from the sales is reinvested in the farming activity, to buy seeds, utensils and equipment, and to finance the project.  

The camp’s activity is expanding rapidly and aims to become self-sufficient, with income being allocated partly to community activities and partly to the women themselves, ensuring their economic autonomy and thus their social integration.

Today, Elisabeth is the president of the group involved in the agricultural project, speaks Dioula, the local language of Bobo-Dioulasso, and has successfully integrated into the community. 

The agricultural project is just one of the many activities carried out by the Good Shepherd Sisters with the support of GSIF in Bobo-Dioulasso, in Secteur 22, one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the city. By providing shelter and psycho-social support, education, training and awareness-raising sessions, the program has already helped 330 vulnerable women and young girls become economically independent and reintegrate into society, thereby breaking the cycle of extreme poverty. 

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