Action Against Desertification

Empowering women through land restoration in village communities


In its intervention model, the consultation and discussion framework set up by Action Against Desertification (AAD) actively encourage communities to establish a community management committee (COGES) for the restoration sites. The representative of the committee oversees and mobilizes communities for collective activities such as planting, sowing and maintaining the plots. AAD recommended having at least a woman in the COGES. This has given an opportunity in some villages for women to step forward, be considered and have their say in the restoration activities.

Mariam Bamogo concretely represents AAD's desire to ensure a place for women in COGES. Aged 25, she is from Bandiedaga Gourmantché, a village of 300 inhabitants in the rural commune of Seytenga.

Bandiedaga Gourmantché, like the surrounding villages in the Northern region of Burkina Faso, has been subject to recurrent droughts, continuous land degradation, decline of crop yields and livestock, accelerated in recent ten years. These villages are located in the selected Great Green Wall areas in Burkina Faso and were identified to benefit from AAD restoration interventions. Action Against Desertification supports the implementation of GGW in six countries and aims to promote sustainable land/forest management and the restoration of degraded lands and landscapes.

Mother of three children, one of them in a young age, Mariam Bamogo was content to help her farmer-husband in the family field before the implementation of the AAD activities. However, due to degradation and decreased productivity, the land no longer allows to adequately feed the family. Before the project, her status as household wife did not allow her to consider any other additional income generating activity, as such opportunities are very limited in rural villages.

“When the AAD project started, with community consultation and information sessions, it was clear that men and women have to work together to address the challenges of land degradation. This was beneficial for the women of the village and a clear opportunity, especially for me”, she explain.

"I was able to convince my husband to let me join the Management Committee as the village women's representative. As such, I contribute and stand at assemblies at the same level as men, I speak on behalf of women to express their concerns and ensure that they are taken into account. As a result, I have acquired a status of leader in my community, which has more respect for me” says Mariam.

From a one hectare plot within an AAD restored site, Mariam produced 4 bags of groundnuts for the first campaign in 2017 that she sold at 30,000 CFA francs (or 60 USD, equivalent to 3/4 of Burkina’s monthly minimum wage). For the second campaign in 2018, she produced sesame seeds collected and sold for 35,000 CFA francs (or 70 USD). For the current campaign (2019), she hopes to produce at least one bag of sesame, two bags of peanuts and two bags of cowpea. Part of it will be sold to meet the school tuition and other needs and the rest will be kept for the family's own consumption. “Thanks to the AAD project, which restored bare lands, I have regained dignity because I can participate in and contribute to social events using the income I earn, by bringing soap for births celebration and small financial contributions for funerals in the village” she says.

AAD project has empowered the women of Bandiédaga Gourmantché, through their active participation in the management committees and in restoration activities including direct sowing, planting and maintenance, alongside men. This synergy of actions has made it possible to obtain strong impacts on the ground, including increased agricultural and fodder production, and some plant and animal species have even started to come back.

Action against desertification through large-scale restoration activities has successfully restored 15,000 hectares in 412 villages in the provinces of Seno and Soum. The project is currently restoring 26 hectares of degraded land in Bandiédaga Gourmantché village after initial land preparation using the Delfino plough and direct seeding and planting of woody and herbaceous plants, training beneficiaries in rainwater harvesting and soil conservation practices. The example of the women of Bandiédaga is edifying case. Women have become empowered fighting to restore soil to improve agricultural production, generate additional income to support their families and thus achieve food security