Poverty Alleviation by Empowering Women through Literacy Campaign, Skill Training, and Micro-loan in Rural Burkina Faso
Living in one of the poorest countries in the world, rural women in Burkina Faso face overwhelming life disadvantages. Women have limited access to landownership, credit, and other productive farm inputs. Traditional culture and limited resources deprive women of educational opportunities resulting in low literacy among rural women. Illiteracy prevents women from accessing any meaningful vocational training and building financial capacity and self-empowerment. Addressing multifaceted issue of rural poverty and gender inequality in Burkina Faso, this project offers a comprehensive poverty reduction model based on women’s literacy education, vocational training, and micro-loan program.
Believing that women-focused development model is a sustainable and multi-impact practice, this project aims to empower poor rural women by providing access to literacy, vocational education, and microloan. Based on South Korean experience of rural development as a key component of economic development, EWB developed a multi-pronged strategy to reduce rural poverty by empowering women as learner, entrepreneur, and leader. This strategy attempts to equip women with educational capacity first. Being empowered by their literacy, women reposition as bearers of vocational skills, specifically in poultry farming, and change makers for the household and their community. Poultry farming is particularly strategic for generating household income as well as lowering food insecurity.
This practice is impactful on multiple SDG goals. (1) It aims to reduce poverty by providing literacy, skill training, and micro-loans to rural women in Burkina Faso. (2) By focusing on poultry farming, it reduces food insecurity as poultry is an acceptable meat among Muslims. (3) It provides quality literacy education to rural women. (4) Literacy and increased financial contribution to household income raise women’s status at home and in the community. (5) Poultry farming with a low startup cost provides women and marginal farmers with reliable work and income.
1. The participating villages and women were identified in collaboration with a local education NGO, APENF that prepared literacy education materials in local languages with culturally relevant content, utilizing REFECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques) pedagogy. Each learner completed 1,200 hours of literacy training. The attrition rate was less than 20%.2. When women participants completed the literacy program and pass the government provided literacy test, they began TVSD (Technical and Vocational Skill Development) training. Among 30 vocational areas, poultry farming was identified to be most productive and suitable to local environment. 3. Poultry farming training: Initially, EWB affiliated poultry experts were dispatched from South Korea to instruct innovative techniques and best-practices to transfer poultry farming skills to these women. To reduce expenditure, EWB provided solar powered incubators and generators for feed production. Skill training programs included basic business management skills of planning, budgeting, decision making, negotiation, goal setting, marketing, and finance. 4. Those who completed poultry farming training successfully, micro-loan was provided to start their own poultry farming. 5. Village capacity-building: Producer cooperatives were formed for input and information sharing, procurement of inputs and sale of outputs in market. Knowledge and experience exchange through model farms. On-site demonstration of best practices was conducted.
89.4 % of the literacy learners passed the government test. The average micro-loan return rate was 98%. Each household’s average profit was 79,948 CFA per year (a return of 160%). (100 CFA=0.18 US Dollar). The per household profit reflects 8.76% of the return rate of the entire project investment. According to personal testimonials, this practice changed households and villages. (1) Through Increased household income, families reduced food insecurity and supported children’s education. (2) Improvement of women’s education and financial status changed gender relations in the family and village. There were fewer domestic dispute and violence. (3) Women feel more empowered to venture into other businesses and invited other women to participate in the program. A local woman testified that this program changed her life because it provided her with a sense of empowerment and financial independence. Now, she could support her own family and pay for her children’s education and medical needs.
APENF played a critical role with their understanding of local needs with networks, enabling the program relevant to local conditions. The resource-efficient poultry farming techniques that are indigenized to the local conditions, e.g. solar incubators and feed-making utilizing locally available materials were vital. Overcoming Language Barriers: To deliver the training programs in local languages, we had to translate from Korean to English, from English to French, and from French to a local language. Monitoring poultry infectious diseases and reliable supply of clean water were serious constraining factors in drought-prone regions.
The practice produced noticeable results. Participants built skills in literacy and business and a sense of agency. Small scale poultry farming requiring a low startup cost is particularly suitable for women and marginal farmers. Poultry has an additional advantage of being an acceptable source of meat in any religious environments, including Muslim regions. The producer cooperatives are a promising component of this model’s sustainability and scalability. The cooperatives recruit more participants, refine poultry farming and business practices, and nurture future leaderships. The experience of poultry producer cooperatives and microloan leads the participants to create a credit-union in villages, making this model more sustainable and scalable. EWB is invited to start this model in Ivory Coast. With 46.3% of population living below poverty line and high illiteracy rate among women (60%), this model is suitable to rural villages as they rebuild from Covid-19 devastation.
The government ban on movement between regions have severely impacted poultry farmers due to difficulties with the procurement of inputs, sales of chickens, and getting technical support for incubators. The household income dropped more than 20% on average during the pandemic. However, a strong partnership with these villages enabled EWB to make a timely and appropriate intervention to assist the impacted households by providing emergency relief supplies The provision of rainwater treatment facilities and instructional materials for personal hygiene is particularly significant for its dual-effect on preventing the spread of Covid-19 and on prevention of poultry diseases. Reliable supply of clean water is critical to rebuilding poultry farming better when the pandemic ends
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Deliverables & Timeline
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This practice has been implemented in three areas (Boussé, Léo, Bobo-Dioulasso) of Burkina Faso.