The Beog Puuto Project
The Beog Puuto Project is providing a sustainable response to land degradation and food insecurity in Burkina Faso for 50,000 households.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
SOS SAHEL International France
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
The selected place covers 4 regions in Burkina Faso: North, Center-North, East and Plateau-Central. Total area is 96,599 km2.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
SOS SAHEL has been present in this arid area since the 1980s through key initiatives to reinforce food security and nutrition of rural communities, reforestation, economic development, and water access and management programs. The SOS SAHEL teams on the ground are local to the region, have a great understanding of the socio-economic context, and speak all the local languages.
Burkina Faso was chosen for its extreme environmental fragility, climate vulnerability and severe land degradation. Communities are quite poor and regularly affected by food and climate shocks. This region is located on the perimeter of the Great Green Wall, aimed at combatting desertification in the Sahara and the Sahel, giving it strategic importance to the success of that Pan-African initiative.
Beyond this, the Beog Puuto project is part of the Green Initiative led by SOS SAHEL. The Green Initiative takes a collaborative approach to sustainable development, working across six Sahelian countries to rehabilitate land, reinforce value chains, promote local products, and build the capacity of local experts. This model, developed by SOS SAHEL, first launched in Burkina Faso as the keystone country at the foundation of the Green Initiative, and it is the subject of an in-depth methodological study to generate a process of technical and social change at the local level. As this is built and refined, SOS SAHEL is developing large-scale projects utilizing this proof-of-concept development model across the other Green Initiative countries.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
The target regions for the Beog Puuto project are strongly affected by climate change and soil degradation – with nearly 97% of the land subject to desertification – which showcases why intervention here is a critical front for the Great Green Wall. Due to the scarcity of fertile land, there is substantial out-migration as people seek more fertile areas or cities for paid temporary work. Of those who remain in the area, 70% rely on subsistence farming and 60% suffer from food insecurity and acute malnutrition, exceeding the WHO alert thresholds. Families are only able to live off their own production for the first 6 months of the year, after which they are forced to adopt survival strategies such as selling livestock to generate income or working in the fields to provide for their family.
The majority of the communities in the area practice agriculture associated with small livestock. They grow cereals (sorghum, cowpeas, peanuts and millet) and vegetables. In some areas of the North, North Center and East, herders still practice pastoralism. Pastoralists require appropriate routes, known as transhumance corridors, for moving between pastures. These regions contain multiple transboundary transhumance corridors which cause recurrent conflicts between farmers and pastoralists over the use of natural resources. Within the framework of the Poverty Environment Initiative led by UNEP, the production losses due to unfertile degraded land jeopardizes the entire economy and socio-political stability of the region.
Rainfall is very low, irregular and unevenly distributed. Rainwater drains large plateaus and watersheds causing soil erosion and accelerating their degradation. The availability of renewable water sources is even lower. To increase productivity, it will be necessary to restore the fertility of uncultivated land, restore watersheds, and reduce erosion through reforestation and proper development techniques
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
The themes of environment, diet, economics, culture, technology, and policy all present major challenges in the current context, with ominous potential for increasing and mutually reinforcing one another moving to 2050.
Desertification, land degradation and drought are among the most serious threats to sustainable development and the broader food system in Burkina Faso. At present, 34% (9,234,500 ha) of land has been degraded due to increased agricultural clearing and pressures on pastoral, forestry and water resources. This results in decreased land productivity, economic insecurity of rural communities, food insecurity, malnutrition, migration, and increased risk of tension and social conflict that compromises peace and security. In addition, according to the FAO, climatologists indicate that soils in the Sahel could warm to 5° C by 2050, as climate events will become more extreme and rains more erratic. These conditions could decrease food production by an additional 13%.
Nearly 70% of families rely on subsistence farming with little to no surplus. As such, they are limited in their opportunities to improve livelihoods and offer families long-term sustainability through traditional models of agriculture. This decreases long-term community investment and encourages out-migration to more productive areas and cities. These has unavoidable, myriad impacts on family networks as they are stretched by distance and threatens the vibrant, multicultural communities of the area.
Today, the population in Burkina Faso is 18 million and the fertility rate is 6 children per woman. As we look towards to future, the country’s population is expected to reach almost 45 million by 2050 and the economy is expected to quintuple its size. This accelerated population growth will increase the demand for education, health and nutrition, while also placing greater strain on an already fragile system. For a population that currently is unable to feed themselves for half of the year through their subsistence production, such an increase is impossible to meet with current prevailing land management and agricultural regimes.
While local expertise brings unique insights and methodologies adapted to the context, for example through the dominant Mosi culture and their approaches to things like land reclamation, it is also the case that additional technical knowledge concerning sustainable development and resource management is lacking among local authorities. Such innovations face challenges in being integrated and spread to local stakeholders due to low overall access to technology, undeveloped opportunities for community knowledge sharing, and dramatic rates of illiteracy (nearly 80% in the regional population). Finally, the prevailing cultural model across the area minimizes the role of women, as men traditionally act as head of family in decision-making.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
SOS SAHEL’s proposed action involves far-reaching pilot work to restore the fertility of soil and boost agricultural production to enable a transformation of the agricultural economy in the area. This model will be one that could be replicated across the Sahel. Marshalling expertise from international and local NGOs including SOS SAHEL International France, SOS SAHEL Burkina Faso, and TERRE VERTE, as well as expertise from Directors of the Ministry of the Environment including the coordinators of the Great Green Wall (GMV) and the Ministry of Agriculture including the Director General of the Hydraulic Development and Irrigation (DGAHDI). This ensures full integration into the local communities that will be augmented by the most recent knowledge and technologies in the field of land restoration and food and nutrition security.
Critically, we will also place local actors at the center of our approach to benefit 350,000 individuals in 30 targeted municipalities, with particular attention to the most vulnerable: women and youth. The project will support farmers, empowering them as agents of change, in restoration techniques, land development methods and direct service provision to boost the local agricultural economy. Through “pilot farms” farmers will gain access to rent agricultural equipment and will receive training on mechanized work, collection and marketing of products. In addition, they will be offered new insights and training regarding, among other areas, improved inputs, resource management and plant protection, while simultaneously an ecosystem of knowledge sharing will be developed that integrates and values local expertise and history built from intimate familiarity, often through generations, of the area context.
Central to our vision is the implementation of SPARK2050, an SOS SAHEL initiative, which stands for “Sustainable Platform for Agri-Tech Actors Relaying Knowledge 2050”. This platform will enable all actors involved in the program to benefit from knowledge exchange, mentorship and networking, launching a smallholder farming movement that to harnesses digital technologies and connectivity to build the climate-smart agriculture the Sahel.
Through this work, we will:
- Restore 30,000 ha of degraded land for agro-sylvo -pastoral activities,
- Develop 7 pilot farms and train 1,200 professional farmers,
- Implement at least 2,300 ha of perimeters of protective vegetation and 2,000 ha of irrigated land to benefit of 2,400 women,
- Promote agro-sylvo-pastoral practices along the perimeter of the Great Green Wall,
- Create 15 local service centers for agro-sylvo-pastoralists which will train them in methods to increase their production and trade,
Strengthen municipalities in territorial planning and management of development projects.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Our ambition is to provide a sustainable response to land degradation and the food insecurity affecting the communities. Our project will transform the landscape and the local agricultural economy in the 4 regions while having significant impacts on the lives of its People.
The Beog Puuto Project will be successful in transforming the communities and landscape of 4 regions in Burkina Faso. Upon completion of the project:
- 30% of land will be restored in the targeted area,
- The period between harvests will be reduced to three months in the targeted households,
- 3,000 youth will be trained in an economically viable agroforestry system,
- Women will make up 40% of management in local land restoration development organizations,
- 1,200 professional farmers will be trained at service centers,
- 80% of local authorities will have the training they need to improve their governance and management of natural resources,
- The yields of rain-fed crops will increase by at least 50% and
- Local incomes will increase by 30%.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
For the past 50 years, the population has had an unsustainable use of natural resources which has severely depleted soils. Burkina Faso is committed to achieving land degradation neutrality by 2030 through the restoration and protection of 5 million hectares of land.
SOS SAHEL’s development model helps drive change within local communities to solve the food insecurity crisis. To achieve this type of change SOS SAHEL implements three forms of intervention: social engineering, technical engineering and program engineering. Our vision is to rebuild landscapes with fertile soils and sufficient water resources to allow for a stable and resilient agricultural economy and food security for the local population. The model places local actors and producers at the center of the approach by involving them in everything from basic analysis, to problem identification, solution planning and project management.
- Farmers benefit from increased production on more fertile land and partake in sustainable land development through the use of irrigated perimeters and guaranteed land security.
- Land restoration techniques and knowledge are accessible to all.
- Farmers have access to production support services.
- Communities are less affected by climate dangers.
Improving agricultural systems and increasing access to inputs such as improved seeds and plant protection will increase production, however, the success of this vision depends on the population. As they witness an increase in their agricultural production and profits, we can then implement technical evolutions and innovations in natural resource management, watershed restoration, land development and agriculture services. Carried out simultaneously, technical advances can improve the food security and the economy in the intervention area as long as they take into account the social, technical and economic structure of the region.
Our vision, which includes the strengthening of local governance, stimulation of entrepreneurship and development of support services, impact the entire population and everyone must evolve in a coordinated matter. Those involved will include:
- Co-ops, women’s group and youth groups who will debate and test new techniques before implementation.
- Individuals, who will be supported through trainings in new techniques.
- Local authorities, such as elected representatives and councils.
- Regional, departmental and municipal Ministries, in particular, the Ministries of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock.
- Ministries in charge of developing, implementing and monitoring national policies.
This vision fits within the decentralization policies that are in place and focuses on strengthening the capacity of local communities and local development structures so that they may achieve economic and social independence. Throughout this process, the managers of local communities must focus both upstream and downstream and therefore must be genuinely involved in the process to ensure success.
Speaking more specifically to the six themes of this vision:
- Environment: 30% of land will be restored in the targeted area;
- Diet: Rain-fed crop yields will increase by at least 50% and the period between harvests will be reduced to three months, building greater overall security and nutrition;
- Economics: Local incomes will increase by 30%;
- Culture: Inclusive design of trainings will foster community-wide collaborative efforts and women will be empowered to obtain management positions in local land restoration development groups. In addition, conflict between territories/groups will be reduced and out-migration will diminish as agricultural livelihoods are bolstered;
- Technology: Supportive tools like mobile applications and other avenues to be identified and built through collaboration with local groups will be utilized to share this model with actors across the Sahel; and
- Policy: 80% of local authorities will have the training they need to improve their governance and management of natural resources. Local communities and development structures will be empowered to achieve economic and social independence.
As we look towards the future, we see the Beog Puuto model as a solution that could be replicated in regions across the Sahel but there must be a way in which it can be shared quickly and easily with the largest number of people. The solution lies in technological innovation, but recognizing certain limitations in the Sahel related to digital knowledge and internet access, as well as low literacy rates among farmers, meaning we must also marshal new methods for sharing and collaboration. Within this context, SOS SAHEL has launched a platform for knowledge exchange, mentorship and networking through which these ideas can be incubated and disseminated.
SPARK2050 (“Sustainable Platform for Agri-Tech Actors Relaying Knowledge 2050”), an SOS SAHEL initiative, positions itself at the center of the smallholder faming movement and aims to harness digital technologies and connectivity to build the climate-smart agriculture the Sahel. SPARK2050 will use Hackathons to drive the development of solutions, proto-types and proofs of concept that can boost agricultural production and drive forward Sahelian development. The program will both harness and help develop a new generation of digital talent in Africa, helping to build a diverse and dynamic tech ecosystem. SPARK 2050 is a long-term project which aims to make a significant contribution to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development goals in the Sahel. We call this the 10-30-300 million model: to identify 10 breakthrough ideas to be implemented over the next 30 years to the benefit of 300 million people.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
we heard about it through Oliva Lopez, Managing Director, Partnerships, Rockefeller Foundation