Thursday, September 25, 2008

What does the WFP do in Burkina?


Since there is not much actual work yet we’ve spent the last few days reading many documents about the activities of the World Food Programme in Burkina Faso. It was a bit dry at first with the official country programme, but it got more interesting once I got the basics, and once I started with things like field mission reports, which are much more concrete and which also give an idea of what kind of field missions I might be involved in.

I don't want to be too academic, but I do want to tell you a bit about what exactly the WFP does here in Burkina Faso. I will try to be as concise as possible :)

Basically, the WFP and the Burkinabe government work on the basis of a 5-year plan, the current one being 2006-2010. The plan has three focuses: 1- supporting basic education (through school feeding for children and literacy classes for adults), 2- supporting vulnerable groups (which are pregnant and breast-feeding women, malnourished children, and HIV/Aids and tuberculosis victims), and 3- supporting rural development. In all of those focuses, and as with all WFP activities, food is used as a means to support development- it's not just about feeding people (unless it's an emergency operation like after an earthquake or a famine).

Kathrin and I will probably start by working with school feeding, which is basically giving kids breakfast and lunch at school. This way they are more motivated to actually come to school, and they can concentrate better because they are not as hungry. The older girls, who parents are sometimes more reluctant to send to school, also get 10 kg of cereal to take home every month if they attend class regularly.

For adults the principle is similar, the WFP delivers food to local centers that provide literacy classes, and this is an additional incentive for men and women to attend the classes regularly (and they can bring their babies along too, who will also get some food).
It works the same way for the support of rural development; groups of farmers are encouraged to make costly investments that will make their farming more efficient, like irrigation systems, or to make investments that will take some time (more than a year) to yield actual results. So while they are making these investments and building these infrastructures, they are supported with food.

The support to 'vulnerable people' is pretty self-explanatory, they get some food to help them out while they are vulnerable, and at the same time they get some advice. For example pregnant women will get some appropriate food so their baby can be healthy, as well as advice on how to take care of the baby, or people with HIV/Aids get some food (because otherwise the medicine does not work as well and has heavier side-effects) and advice on how to live with their illness.

So... those are the main activities in a (coco)nutshell! The organisation of all of these activities is, as you can imagine, quite an affair. There are departments for all the logistics, for the finances, for the purchasing of foods, for assessing which regions and which people need (the most) help, etc., and then once the programmes are up and running we must of course follow-up on whether they are carried through properly and whether they are reaching their goals. Kathrin and I will be talking to the different people in charge of those things to get a better idea of how it all happens (which is a good thing, it's actually interesting in person :)!)

Don't stop reading my blog after this boring post, I promise there will also be entertaining stories!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Alix,

I got from Mérion the message that you were writing a blog with your experiences in Burkina Fasso. So I googled Later I will sit down and read it more carefully, but just wanted you to know that we all think about you.

You can mail back, if you like at:

Regards from us all.

Adriaan van der Poel

October 14, 2008 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Marieke said...

Not boring at all!!
Now I'm working on school feeding too, maybe we can exchange some info every once in a while? ;-)And....did you guys already get a clear 'job description'? I'd like to hear more on what you guys are working on!!
Veluma from Tana!

October 16, 2008 12:20 PM  

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