Africa
19 Feb 2020

Birds, Bees and Business: Empowering Local Communities in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, a unique project on biodiversity conservation is improving the livelihoods of local communities.

Local women  processing shea butter  in the south of Burkina Faso © Seydou NACRO
Local women processing shea butter in the south of Burkina Faso © Seydou NACRO
By Seydou NACRO and Lewis Kihumba

A dry gusty wind blows across the serene landscape of Po Town, Southern Burkina Faso. Further away from the town, is a lush green landscape dotted by numerous trees with spreading canopies. It is late afternoon and a group of women work in pairs under these trees, collecting green fruits on the ground and putting them into hand woven baskets.

Assana Nabaloum one of the women involved in this exercise stands a distance away near a white sack being filled with the fruit. “This is the famous shea, an important fruit that is slowly improving our community’s livelihood”, says Assana. In many parts across the Sahel including Burkina Faso, the shea tree grows wildly, producing shea nuts which are high in nutritional value. Shea nuts are also used to produce vegetable fat, shea butter as well as skin and hair care products

Assana is among a group of women benefiting from a unique 4-year project supporting biological diversity and the green economy known as Birds Bees and Business (BBB). BBB is being implemented by NATURAMA - BirdLife Partner in Burkina Faso and partners including the Afrique Verte Burkina and Tiipaalga, with support from Dutch Post Code Lottery, ICCO, and VBN (BirdLife Netherlands).

BBB, being implemented in 4 provinces namely Nahouri, Ioba, Sissili and Ziro is based on an experimental approach that mainstreams conservation, and income generation for rural communities specifically aiming at biodiversity conservation, boosting productivity of agro forestry parks and promotion of local enterprises.

A shea flower blooming in season. Shea trees start flowering after 15- 20 years and remain productive for upto 100 years. © Seydou NACRO

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BBB Seeks to restore landscapes where the project is being implemented for the benefit of birds, bees and businesses. NATURAMA is responsible for this restoration through creation of a diverse mosaic landscape, which will in turn attract bees and insects which are food for migratory birds. Additionally, the bees are instrumental in pollinating shea trees, leading to more production of shea nuts.

“For a long time, our environment had been degraded leading to reduced productivity and income from the shea. Since the start of this project, we have seen a significant boost in productivity, which is uplifting our community”, notes Assana.

“NATURAMA is playing a critical role in this intervention. BBB is in line with Burkina Faso’s National Sustainable Development Policy to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns in addition to the Sustainable Development Goals through biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation “, notes Idrissa ZEBA, Executive Director of NATURAMA.

“This project will not only benefit the local community but also aligns well with one of our program areas, which is conservation of migratory birds, further adds Idrissa. For Assana and local community members benefiting from BBB, the future can only be brighter.