Chris Reij from VU University – Amsterdam led a group including Stephane Boyera, George Sadowsky and me from the Web Foundation on an educational tour of the desert regions north of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The purpose was to orient participants in the new Web-alliance for Regreening in Africa (W4RA) and others on the progress and challenges made by initiatives aimed at natural regeneration of trees in these regions. This was an incredibly useful trip for informing the Workshop on Mobile Web for Rural Development, the Foundation’s first workshop held in Ouagadougou on 3-4 February. I have many, many pictures and videos from this trip, and many more stories and memories. In the interest of speed over completeness, below is a small set of visuals from Burkina Faso from 31 January 2010 with less explanation that there should be.
Key learnings from this day:
- It is possible to grow trees and crops in very dry, near-desert conditions, and using locally-available resources: a hoe, manure, available rain fall, bands of stones and/or hole to trap the moisture, and sprigs of vegetation that can be nurtured to grow into trees using the aforementioned resources.
- A small minority of farmers have discovered and are employing these techniques.
- The work of groups like the Africa Re-greening Initiative are helping to spread the sharing of knowledge of techniques between the farmers who are practicing them to others who could use the. Most of this dissemination is through face-to-face visits, which limits the speed at which knowledge can be shared.
- Vast majority of farmers have access to mobile phones and radios.
- The Burkinabé people and our project partners are smart, open, enthusiastic, very friendly and great people to work with.