Hunger gaps particularly challenging
In northern Burkina Fasao, most farming families do not produce enough cereals to feed themselves all year round because the rainy season is too short and farmers’ plots are often too small to produce more. As a result, once cereal stocks are exhausted, families face major difficulties to feed themselves – these periods are called hunger gaps !
They then have to supplement their own production with purchases. However, traders rarely deliver in remote and hrad-to-reach villages, so when the family granaries are empty, farmers cannot find cereals in the villages, or at very high prices. As a result there is a great food insecurity.
A solution: food security storehouses
The Viim Baoré / Naam Cooperative gathers more than 400 food security storehouses (GSA). The GSAs are community shops that buy basic foods in bulk in the season when they are most affordable, and distribute them at retail during difficult times.
The Viim Baoré / Naam Cooperative supports the GSAs at different levels:
- Granting credits to finance bulk purchases
- Facilitating purchases by identifying suppliers, assisting in negotiations, etc.
- Giving advice to community leaders on good storage practices, simplified accounting, etc.
- Advocating for the authorities to better recognise the role of GSAs in reaching food security in villages
GSAs & SOS FAIM
The GSA network was originally an initiative of the Fédération Nationale des Groupements Naam (FNGN), which SOS Faim had been supporting since 2002.
In January 2015, the FNGN's support system for the food security storehouses became autonomous in the form of a Viim Baoré cooperative (CVB), which has received technical and financial support from SOS Faim since then.
Over the last 15 years :
- The number of GSAs has risen from 234 (many of which were inactive) to more than 400 (three-quarters of which are considered “active”)
- The marketed volume of cereals and various foods, which amounted to 306 tonnes in 2002, now varies between 3,000 and 6,000 tonnes per year
- The products marketed, initially limited to cereals, now include diverse basic food products such as legumes and traditional condiments (in livestock areas, some GSAs also offer animal feed)
The role of GSAs in reaching food security is increasingly recognised. In food crisis situations, emergency aid agencies call GSAs to collaborate in their operations. In 2019, the storehouses of the Viim Baoré network distributed more than 4,000 tonnes of cereals and various food products to more than 50,000 farmer households.
What prospects ?
Many GSAs now want to increase and strengthen their capacities.
Future volumes are expected to remain above 3,000 tonnes per year, with the ability to meet higher needs in the event of poor harvests.
Even though the humanitarian and security crisis, which has been raging in the north of the country since 2018, has significantly affected the activities of the GSAs, facilitators and storehouses managers remain committed to the populations, and are adapting their working methods in order to get around the obstacles posed by this situation.