International solidarity adding strength to local solidarity

On Thursday April 24th we were many to have gathered at the Fulani community of Sisséné in the town of Doulou (Municipality of Koudougou). There was also a representative of Koudougou Town Council, the Director of Animal Resources of Boulkiemdé Province and a large number of Fulani farmers and herders of Sisséne. We had come for the inauguration of a well, the result of fruitful cooperation between a number of North and South participants.

Les femmes peules arrivent avec le lait...Le représentant des agriculteurs annonce la bonne nouvelle !From the South, in Burkina, there were the Fulani herders of Sisséné and the women of the Boulkiemdé Dairy of SEDELAN (who have worked together for nearly 10 years), as well as the official of Koudougou Municipality in charge of coordinating the management of all wells drilled on its territory) and a representative of the Ministry of Animal Resources.

From the North, in France, there was the Association for Technical Training in Burkina Faso (AFT) which supports SEDELAN’s work in literacy courses and training, there was the of Vendée-Eau public company (which manages the distribution of drinking water in Vendée. According to French legislation 0.1% of its income may be earmarked for international development work. Vendée-Eau is financing wells and pumps for drinking water, in Burkina Faso and Togo in particular).

A little more than a year ago, at the inauguration of a footbridge in the village on International Water Day my newsletter stated ”The only thing missing for a total success of the event was a well !” This year we had both the bridge and a well, nothing was missing. Farmers and herders shared their joy, there was ”water for all”. The official from the Town Council was the first to turn the wheel of the new VOLENTA pump, only a couple of turns were needed to have beautiful and clear water spurt out. All those who wanted could have a go and taste the quality of the water … and in the end a few herders continued to draw water to give their animals a chance to participate in the celebration.

Une belle eau apparaît...Le volant tourne facilement... l'eau n'est pas loin !Nice and clear water from the new well The wheel drawing water from the well is easy to turn ! Last year, because of the lack of water, the cattle had had to migrate for pasture the day the bridge was inaugurated. This year there was not only water for all, but also milk, a sure sign that the animals could not be far away..

But what really hit home among the audience were the words of welcome from the spokesman of the farmers, to whom the village land belongs. He stressed the fact that for the past 60 years farmers and herders have lived in peace and mutual respect. But since a couple of months they have come to realise that both groups need one another and now have got support, because they stand united. First of all for the building of the bridge, which is useful for both communities and bring them together. Then, this year the well has been drilled and is being inaugurated this day, whilst for a couple of days there had been no water.

They had also come to realise that the Fulani herders needed land and fodder, and that the manure from the animals could help farmers improve the yield of their crops. To strengthen the already existing union and solidarity, the farmers had donated 12 hectares of land to their herder friends. This announcement was greeted by a round of applause. The Town Council official declared that she would see to the boundary markings.

La représentante de la mairie apprécie la qualité de l'eau.Après avoir goûter l'eau, nous goûtons le lait !The women of the Boulkiemdé Dairy in Koudougou ”Le lait du Boulkiemdé” were also very happy, because the Sisséné herders continue to supply them with 30 litres of fresh milk a day, (whilst the previous year, 2013, there was no milk already by February). Happy also because the same herders , notably the chief of the community, have started making animal fodder, so that their cows can continue to produce milk in the dry season. They think they will be able to provide 100 litres a day all year around, starting from 2016.

Right indeed: the Fulani of Burkina have a future. Wrong : Conflicts running out of control between herders and farmers are not an inescapabable destiny. Right: international solidarity can add strength to local solidarity initiatives.

faHowever, our ambitions do not end here. We wish to continue our partnership with the Fulani farmers in Sisséné. There is generally little faith in the ability of Fulani farmers to develop modern and ecological family herding. We would like to show that this is possible. We believe that the Fulani community in Sisséné is ready, provided they get support for another couple of years. They are ready, in cooperation with their farmer neighbours, to thoroughly improve the way they feed their animals – a big quality leap forward. We would like to help them to resolutely turn to milk production, by improving the performance of their herds. This means that among other things they will have to gradually move from keeping Fulani zebus to raising Goudali zebus (See also newsletter 369 Goudalis – the right choice. ) There are already some Goudali in Burkina, but they are often quite mixed with other breeds. With the National Union of Mini-Dairies we have at present already some experience in finding good milk cows in Nigeria, at Sokoto.

We are not going to simply give Goudali cows as a present to the herders in Sisséné, but we would like to set up a working capital fund (of approximately 4 million CFA francs or 6 000 €), so that we can go to Sokoto and come back with at least 2 Goudali bulls and some Goudali heifers. They will be granted as a loan to the herders, who will pay back in kind by producing thoroughbred Goudali calves. In this way we hope to slowly but surely enhance the yields of Fulani herds, in cooperation with the National Union of Mini-Dairies, starting out at Sisséné.

Those who would like to contribute to the financing of Operation Goudalis, can make a transfer directly to the account of SEDELAN in Koudougou.

Those who wish to make a donation with a receipt for tax deduction should contact me. I will tell you how to proceed.

We sincerely thank all of you in advance.

Koudougou, April 27, 2014

Maurice Oudet
Director SEDELAN

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