Burkina’s Mango Rain 2019

What is a Mango Rain?
It’s the first rain of the year, which usually comes in April.

Why is it called a Mango Rain?
Because at this time of year, as the temperature continues to rise, the mangoes are ripening on the mango trees, soon to be available to eat.

When was the mango rain this year?
In the eastern region, the mango rain occurred on April 5th, where it cooled things down for a few hours of relief from the extreme heat.

Video clip of this year’s mango rain (shot at BARKA’s office in Fada N’Gourma):

Swampscott High School Walks for Water on Water Day

Swampscott High School Walks for Water on Water Day

Photo of students walking with 1 gallon water bottles

Students lug water through Swampscott High to benefit West African nation

[See original post in North of Boston WICKED LOCAL]

Students lug water through Swampscott High to benefit West African nation
Posted Mar 25, 2019 at 4:28 PM Updated Mar 25, 2019 at 4:29 PM

The Walk for Water was sponsored by the Swampscott and Marblehead High School Interact Clubs, along with the Swampscott High School French Club.

In honor of World Water Day, students from Swampscott and Marblehead high schools gathered on Friday afternoon for the second annual “Walk for Water” to benefit The Barka Foundation. Barka is a non-governmental organization that provides clean water, sanitation and hygiene education to rural villages in eastern Burkina Faso, a landlocked French-speaking nation in West Africa.

The Walk for Water was sponsored by the Swampscott and Marblehead High School Interact Clubs, along with the Swampscott High School French Club. Interact is the youth division of Rotary International. The Marblehead and Swampscott chapters of Rotary have a longstanding partnership with Barka and have provided the organization with both financial and logistical support.

Melissa Albert, French teacher and SHS French Club advisor, coordinated and supervised the walk along with Stephanie DeOrio, SHS Interact co-advisor. They set a goal of six kilometers, which is the average distance people (mostly women) have to walk each day in order to gather water for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry and other daily needs.

Students solicited donations from the local community and — due to the inclement weather — mapped a 6-kilometer route around the interior of Swampscott High School. Most walked toting gallon jugs of water, a fraction of the average amount, five gallons, that women in rural Burkina Faso must carry each day to fulfill their families’ basic needs.

The Walk for Water was sponsored by the Swampscott and Marblehead High School Interact Clubs, along with the Swampscott High School French Club.

In honor of World Water Day, students from Swampscott and Marblehead high schools gathered on Friday afternoon for the second annual “Walk for Water” to benefit The Barka Foundation. Barka is a non-governmental organization that provides clean water, sanitation and hygiene education to rural villages in eastern Burkina Faso, a landlocked French-speaking nation in West Africa.

The Walk for Water was sponsored by the Swampscott and Marblehead High School Interact Clubs, along with the Swampscott High School French Club. Interact is the youth division of Rotary International. The Marblehead and Swampscott chapters of Rotary have a longstanding partnership with Barka and have provided the organization with both financial and logistical support.

Melissa Albert, French teacher and SHS French Club advisor, coordinated and supervised the walk along with Stephanie DeOrio, SHS Interact co-advisor. They set a goal of six kilometers, which is the average distance people (mostly women) have to walk each day in order to gather water for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry and other daily needs.

Students solicited donations from the local community and — due to the inclement weather — mapped a 6-kilometer route around the interior of Swampscott High School. Most walked toting gallon jugs of water, a fraction of the average amount, five gallons, that women in rural Burkina Faso must carry each day to fulfill their families’ basic needs.

The students highlighted social justice concerns as the primary motivation behind the event. “As a group, we want to help people in developing countries,” said Jamie Gaber, a junior at SHS who serves as the French Club’s treasurer. “Water is a human right, and people in some countries have to walk miles every day to get water to drink.”

The United Nations declared clean water to be a fundamental human right in 2010.

“At Interact, we always say ‘Service above self,’” added Gabrielle Rabinovicw of Marblehead. “This is one small way to raise awareness of this critical issue that affects so many people around the world.”

Odin Randell, SHS junior and French Club member, summed up the importance of the “Walk for Water” and World Water Day.

“Water remains critical for humans regardless of how far we think technology has advanced. The walk can only begin to show the lengths that countless people have to go to every day in order to obtain drinking water,” Randell said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, and 2.5 billion – about 35 percent of the world’s population — lack access to improved sanitation.

Despite the distance that many people must travel each day in search of water, there is no guarantee the water they do gather will be safe to drink. The UN estimates that 2,200 children die daily from waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

“It’s pretty impressive that these students were willing to come out on a rainy Friday afternoon to raise awareness and work to help people on the other side of the world,” said Albert, the French Club advisor. “No pun intended, it’s a drop in the bucket. But every little drop helps.”

Op Ed: Crises in Burkina Faso Demand Immediate Global Attention

By Esu Anahata
Co-Founder, The BARKA Foundation

In October of 2014, Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the heart of West Africa, was the toast of democracies around the world. Its people rose up in a relatively peaceful popular revolution that succeeded in overthrowing the authoritarian president, Blaise Compaoré, who tried one too many times to extend his 27-year regime. Compaoré was a strongman who forged cozy relations with terror factions, trading their safe harbor for security, something the nation’s democratically-elected government opted not to renew in 2016 when it came to power. Shortly after that, the first major terrorist attack took place in Ouagadougou at the Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino Café killing 30 people. Since then, Burkina has become one of the most dangerous places on the continent—the new ground zero for West African jihad.

My wife and I have operated a small UN-affiliated NGO focused on clean water, sanitation, hygiene and women’s empowerment in Burkina Faso since 2005. Last October, our on-the-ground staff told us it was impossible for us to return, due to security concerns. Since 2012, we’ve spent 6-9 months a year in “the Land of Upright People.” We have watched with horror the “alarming deterioration” that has unfolded in just the past five months. The nation currently suffers from almost daily terrorist attacks perpetrated by four distinct Islamist terrorist organizations. The impact on Burkina Faso has been catastrophic. This nation, one of the poorest and most water-stressed in the world, is ill-equipped to deal with the urgency, speed, scope, and complexity of the problem it now faces.

Jihadi threats and attacks on schools and the abduction/assassination of teachers have forced the closure of 1,135 schools in the country, and 154,000 students are without access to education—arguably one of the best weapons against terrorism. In addition, massive displacement is occurring, with 115,000 people forced to flee because of terrorist threats and violence – half of those in just the past eight weeks, at a rate of 1,000 people a day. The UN has sounded the alarm, estimating that 670,000 face food shortages and 1.2 million among Burkina’s population of 19 million are in dire need of humanitarian aid. The UN has asked for $100M to address this unprecedented humanitarian emergency.
There is now a curfew over one-third of the country. States of emergency (for what they’re worth) have been declared in all border provinces, and Burkina’s tourism industry has been dead since the first major attack three years ago. In cities like Ouagadougou and Fada N’Gourma (the capital of the eastern region where our NGO is based) the once-lively nightlife is now gone, replaced with military patrols from night until morning, crippling an already severely challenged economy.

The wheels are coming off the rails. Attacks are becoming more frequent, violent, innovative, and are expanding to almost all corners of the country. Administrative buildings, schools, security facilities, and entertainment venues have been targeted and destroyed. There have been 200 attacks in the past two years. One of the most flagrant occurred a year ago in Ouagadougou when the French Embassy and the military headquarters were attacked on the day the G5 Sahel, an international effort to combat terrorism in the Sahel, had been scheduled to meet there. A more brazen show of force is hard to imagine.

The most gruesome example of the escalation of violence is the implanting of IEDs (a growing menace on roads of the North and East regions) into dead bodies, effectively booby-trapping them. While most targets are military patrols (to intimidate and dominate), gendarme outposts (to restock weapons and supplies), and gold company convoys (to destabilize foreign investment and intercept gold transports), there has been a sharp uptick in civilian killings and kidnapping of locals and westerners. A Canadian gold exec was abducted and killed in January, and a young Canadian tourist and her Italian boyfriend have been missing since mid-December and are presumed to have been kidnapped. In the first high-profile kidnapping three years ago, Ken Elliot, a beloved 80-year-old surgeon and his wife who had spent 40 years providing medical services for the community of Djibo – a town in the center of terrorist activity in the North – were kidnapped. Mrs. Elliot was released after a month, but Dr. Elliot is still in captivity.

To make matters worse, as if they could be any worse, one of Burkina’s greatest strengths – its deeply embedded social cohesion – is being torn apart by ethnic conflicts arising out of this quagmire. Burkina is made up of more than 60 ethnic tribes which have lived together peacefully for centuries. The Peuhl or Fulani people, who are pastoralists and have at times had conflicts with farming communities, are being persecuted and accused of harboring or aiding terrorists. More than 200 were allegedly slaughtered in at least two incidents this year by the Burkinabe army and Koglweogo, a civilian vigilante group which has served as local law enforcement where the state’s writ does not reach. One of the links between the Fulani and Islamist terror groups is the association to Ansaroul Islam, Burkina Faso’s first indigenous terrorist group, established by the late Boureima Dicko, a Fulani radical Islamic preacher.

The Trump administration is providing $242M in military aid to the G5 Sahel’s force, which will grow to 5000 troops, however, the G5 Sahel has thus far been ineffective and slow to distribute funds. The US has pledged $100M in support over the next two years (vehicles, body armor, radios, night-vision goggles), three times the total for the previous 11 years. Not only is this insufficient, but African commanders cite that the equipment is not always effective. Land Cruisers, for example, lack the armor to protect against roadside bombs. In addition, last month the US Department of Defense said it would cut its forces in Africa by 10%, precisely at a time when it should be increasing its presence to get this escalating situation under control and prevent it from spreading to West African coastal countries.

As we are dealing with an encroaching insurgency, the solution lies in counter-insurgency, i.e., coordinated efforts between military, police, government and civil society to address the problem at its root. However human rights must be asserted forcefully, as abuses by the army and cover-ups by the government are playing into the terrorists’ hands, allowing radicals to enter villages as the defenders and protectors of the people. The global community needs to more aggressively support Burkina’s development trajectory so that the conditions in which Islamic militant groups flourish are less favorable. In the context of extreme poverty, a lack of public services, education, healthcare, a 70% unemployment rate, and government corruption, joining a terrorist group (offering food, motorcycle, Kalashnikov) is a viable choice. Burkina Faso must reinforce the legitimacy and effectiveness of its government, but it cannot do this alone. A perfect storm is forming, and if we do not take swift, bold and decisive action soon, the reverberations of our inaction will be felt around the world for years to come.

References:

Insecurity in Southwestern Burkina Faso in the Context of an Expanding Insurgency

https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/12/10/confessions-d-un-djihadiste-du-burkina-vu-ce-que-font-les-forces-de-securite-a-nos-parents-je-ne-regretterai-jamais-leur-mort_5227587_3212.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46886121

https://www.voanews.com/a/france-vows-aid-for-burkina-but-no-more-troops-to-fight-islamists/4704736.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/burkina-faso-edith-blais-travel-advisory-1.4970455

Growing Terrorism in Burkina Faso

Au Burkina Faso, les Peuls victimes d’une stigmatisation meurtrière

146 terroristes « neutralisés » par les FDS : Une exécution sommaire selon le MBDHP

https://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/burkina-faso-overview-humanitarian-situation-18-january-2018

https://ctc.usma.edu/ansaroul-islam-growing-terrorist-insurgency-burkina-faso/

Terrorism Threatens a Former Oasis of Stability in West Africa

https://www.timesnownews.com/international/article/fear-of-attacks-keeps-150000-children-away-from-school-in-burkina-faso/370574

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2019/03/violence-increasing-burkina-faso-190308174211600.html

https://theintercept.com/2018/11/22/burkina-faso-us-relations/

Burkina Faso: January 2019 SITREP and Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

Burkina Faso: February 2019 SITREP and Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

https://www.sierraleonetimes.com/news/259837137/persistent-needs-in-sahel-with-conflict-driving-massive-displacement

https://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/burkina-faso-overview-humanitarian-situation-18-january-2019

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/21/burkina-faso-killings-abuse-sahel-conflict

Terrorism Threatens a Former Oasis of Stability in West Africa

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/mali-refugees-arrest-fears-burkina-faso-190305101832412.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/07/alarming-burkina-faso-unrest-threatens-west-african-stability

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/he-does-not-have-much-longer-to-live-wife-of-kidnapped-australian-pleads-for-his-release

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/17/kidnapped-canadian-found-dead-burkina-faso-officials-say

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p073561j

https://issafrica.org/iss-today/can-benin-protect-itself-from-terrorism-in-the-region

https://www.voanews.com/a/will-us-military-complete-planned-troop-cuts-in-africa-/4818517.html

Problematic Framings from the NYT and WSJ on Terrorism and Counterterrorism in West Africa

https://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/continued-insecurity-hampering-aid-efforts-burkina-faso

https://www.postguam.com/the_globe/world/violence-sparks-major-crisis-in-burkina-faso/article_7a2ae8b0-4483-11e9-9cc6-133531ef3c0a.html

https://reliefweb.int/report/burkina-faso/continued-insecurity-hampering-aid-efforts-burkina-faso

More Water on Tap for Burkina Faso

BARKA Project to Drill 24 Wells in Fada in Development
As we’ve mentioned in prior blog posts, regrettably, terrorism is on the rise in Burkina Faso. The eastern region is the newest stronghold for these terrorist groups. Despite this new and dangerous threat, BARKA’s work continues…

Many large international NGOs have shuttered their doors because of the increase in insecurity, making the dire situation for the local population even more catastrophic, yet BARKA’s work continues…

In fact, we are now working with the local and regional government authorities on our most ambitious project to date- there are 24 wells needed in the commune of Fada N’Gourma for people to have a bare minimum of access to clean drinking water within 1 kilometer. So naturally, BARKA’s team is currently working out the details of a 2019 project in which we can provide those 24 wells to the wider community of 150,000 villagers. Won’t you join us?

BARKA’s success to date since 2006 has relied almost exclusively on the generosity of individuals like you to power its work forward. We’re further along than we ever thought possible and we can’t stop now. Our projects are growing more ambitious and more important than ever.

If you’d like to make a donation to become a part of this making this dream into a reality for thousands of children and villagers in Burkina to attain their birthright of clean drinking water,, please click here to make a donation now.

We acknowledge our immense gratitude to everyone who has donated to 2018’s programs, to our dozens of incredible partners both in Burkina and internationally, and most especially to BARKA’s local team in Burkina and our many volunteers and advisors in the US and France. 2018 was an incredible year and we look forward to more impact to come.

Our wishes and blessings to you and your family for a happy and healthy 2019!

2018: A Year of Impact

A Look Back at All We Achieved This Past Year:
THE WATER FAIR

  • Produced and hosted Burkina Faso’s national World Water Day celebration: The Water Fair, a 5-day event beautifully chronicled in this film.
    • In the process we met the First Lady of Burkina Faso, the US Ambassador to Burkina, and a host of other ministers and dignitaries.
  • Launched the International Water Fund, a finance mechanism to fund water projects in the east.
    • The First Lady inaugurated the Water Fund with a $2000 donation
    • The US Embassy of Burkina made a $10,000 grant for theatre sensitization
  • Created partnerships with 2 dozen enterprises, NGOs and government ministries
CLEAN WATER
  • Completed the well in Lampiadi to provide clean drinking water for 600 people and made a film profiling the impact for the village
  • Tested the water quality and conducted questionnaires of the water filters we sold to villagers in 2017
  • Tested the water quality and assessed the functionality of water committees in the 6 villages where BARKA has drilled wells
  • Established community gardens adjacent to the wells with 3 village partners
MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT (MHM)
  • Expanded BARKA’s MHM project by sensitizing 500 more girls and partnering with a new high school (our 6th).
  • Co-organized the national MHM Day celebration with Wateraid, UNICEF, Plan International and other NGOs a whole lot bigger than we are!
  • Participated in a “best practices” conference with every other organization in Burkina working in the cutting edge field of MHM
IN ADDITION, we…
  • Began a search for land for a permanent headquarters in the Eastern region
  • Hosted a delegation of 4 long-time BARKA staffers from Burkina in the US for 3 weeks where they attended the Board of Director’s Annual Retreat
  • Received an incredible donation of goods from USAID including a 55 KVA generator, numerous laptops, desktops, printers, phones, desks, chairs and more
  • Sponsored 3 local cultural events in the East
  • Attended the National Water Forum and hosted a booth for the Water Fair
  • Were nominated for a Water Trophy Award
  • Established a wide array of protocols and operational procedures for greater efficiency and transparency of our operations on the ground
  • Hosted an internship for a Williams College graduate in Fada N’Gourma
  • Added two new members to BARKA’s Board of Directors
And to give you a hint of where things are headed in 2019, we developed two new major projects:
  • A 24-well WASH project (water, sanitation & hygiene) for a community of 150,000
  • A comprehensive women’s reproductive health and rights program that will be the first to distribute menstrual cups in Burkina Faso’s history.
And we’ve done all this on an annual operations budget of less than $100,000.
To say that the “Little NGO that Could” is lean and mean is an understatement!
We’d like to sincerely thank our dedicated and loving team on the ground, our incredible and tireless volunteers in the US, our Board of Directors, all of our advisors and partners, and you– because without your generous support, none of this would be possible. You have proved to us that dreams can come true and that individuals can make a difference, even in a remote rural African village thousands of miles away.
We hope you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because you’re a part of this success and what you’ve helped to bring into the world is larger than any of us.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support BARKA’s work.

Barka… and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Year-End Letter from BARKA’s Co-Founders

Much is happening in Burkina Faso right now. It was a good harvest, despite a very shaky beginning – there was no rain in June and everyone was fearing another famine like the one caused by poor rains in 2017. But the rains did come, and not too much either. It’s not easy when you grow your own food to survive.
General Gilbert Diendéré is currently standing trial for a failed coup attempt in 2015 (we were lucky to get back to Fada from Ouagadougou that day). Terrorism has been on the rise this year, especially in the East where BARKA is based. Despite all, and thanks to the generosity of our donors, BARKA’s work on the ground continues to move forward, and members of the local staff, most notably Gaoussou “Peace” Sarambe and Luc Yoda (BARKA’s Jedi knight) have stepped up to leadership positions. Their visit to the US this past summer with two other long-time BARKA staffers/family members no doubt inspired them and renewed their deep commitment. It has been rewarding to see such growth in BARKA’s local staff, as our long-term goal is for The BARKA Foundation to be able to continue its operations long after we’re gone.
2019 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in BARKA’s history. We have several critical projects planned, with grant applications currently under consideration for each, that will be truly life-changing:
    • to train local farmers to adapt to a changing climate, preserving their livelihood
    • to be the first in Burkina’s history to distribute menstrual cups to high school girls and women, giving girls the opportunity to continue their education
    • to drill more wells and ensure WASH (water, sanitation & hygiene) in schools and communities.
The US Embassy of Burkina Faso also has provided funding for BARKA’s theatre troupe to further its pioneering Social Art program in which we sensitize on a variety of subjects through theatre.
BARKA is often referred to as “the little NGO that could”… although we couldn’t without you. Grassroots support has been BARKA’s lifeline, the fuel that has powered our work since 2006. We are so filled with gratitude for all we’ve done together, supported by your incredible generosity and belief in BARKA’s mission and methodology. Our cup runneth over, and yet, each year we must ask again, relying on your willingness, your understanding, and your generosity through individual contributions to continue this work.
Thank you for your consideration of a year-end gift and for your continued support. We look forward to what’s ahead and are so grateful that you have a seat at BARKA’s table. Happy holidays! We wish you all good things for the new year.
‘Barka’ is an African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity.
barka,
Ina & Esu Anahata, Co-Founders