Burkina Faso

Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is located in West Africa. It is a relatively flat country with the larger part of the country covered by a gently undulating landscape. On the other hand, the southwest of the country forms a sandstone massif, bordered by steep cliffs up to 150 meters high. Burkina Faso has a predominantly tropical climate with two very distinct seasons. In the rainy season (approximately May/June to September), the country receives between 600 and 900 millimeters of rainfall. The population is about 16 million.

School gardens are not new to Burkina Faso. The school garden program has mainly been driven by non-governmental organizations such as the Hellen Keller Foundation and the Catholic Relief Service, that have set up about 140 school gardens. Prior to the implementation, a nutritional analysis of school children was done which showed delayed growth and underweight, iron deficiency anemia as well as vitamin A deficiency. Four years after the start of the program, there were some improvements in these indicators, however results were not conclusive.

Overall, the following advantages of the project were identified: (1) vegetable consumption increased (however, only three vegetables were maintained in the gardens – tomatoes, lentils, and onions – due to dietary preferences); (2) school gardens served as a living laboratory for education in biology, mathematics and other sciences; and (3) vegetables from the gardens were used as supplement to the food prepared in the school canteens since the government only provided eggs, cooking oil, and rice. In some of the school garden projects a group of mothers took care of the gardens and thus increased the production of vegetables due to their engagement.

Among the major constraints were the availability of water, the children were not motivated to work in the school gardens after school hours, stray animals that sometimes destroyed the vegetables, the availability of quality seeds and problems with pests, diseases and poor soil quality. Earlier projects also included the training of teachers and mothers from the mothers association and several good practices were identified. Most of the school gardens that failed did so due to limited water availability, lack of funding to repair water pumps and the lack of involvement of teachers when financial incentives from project funds stopped.