Zabré women’s agroecological programme [Burkina Faso]

approaches_2405 - Burkina Faso

Completeness: 89%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

Lougue Maria

Association des femmes Pag-La-Yiri de Zabré (AFZ)

O9 B.P. 335 Ouagadougou 09,

SLM specialist:

De Pury Jean Pascal Etienne /

ancien directeur du Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer

CH-2000 NeuchâFtel, Switzerland, 2 rue de la Côte,


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Book project: where the land is greener - Case Studies and Analysis of Soil and Water Conservation Initiatives Worldwide (where the land is greener)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer (CEAS) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Reference(s) to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Technologies

2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

A demand-driven initiative, by a women’s association, aimed at the promotion of composting through training and extension, using project staff and local facilitators.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Aims / objectives: Leaders of the women’s association of Zabré (Association des Femme de Zabré, AFZ) initiated a training programme for their members on compost making, and its application in planting pits (zai) after they visited a seminar on the topic in 1987. AFZ actively sought technical and financial help, and found this through the Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer (CEAS, based in Switzerland). Support began with the establishment of a first demonstration site where five local facilitators (one from each zone), learned about and developed the technology together over a whole year - comparing the results with sorghum fields without compost. In the following year, those five facilitators each trained 20 women in their zones, using the same training methods as they themselves had experienced. AFZ set up demonstration and training sites in each of the five zones. These demonstration areas were protected by a wire netting fence, contained a well, a cement water tank, and some shade trees for the compost heaps and training sessions. Machines for the wells, hand tools and manure were fully financed, whereas community infrastructure was only partly funded. Each demonstration site had one hectare of cultivated land, with irrigated vegetables in the dry season and sorghum in the rainy season. The facilitators used this land to demonstrate the effect of the compost, and thus to visually convince the trainees. Each of the trainees carried 20 kg of compost home and applied it to their own sorghum fields. During the first 18 months, a CEAS technician visited the zones regularly.

Methods: In the following years, the neighbouring villages each sent groups of 20 women to the established demonstration and training sites, each group for one day a week. They carried out the successive phases of composting in the demonstration plots, while simultaneously implementing the practice at home - where they were supervised by the facilitators as far as possible. In this way, 500 women were trained within one year. Although it took a while, men gradually began to take part and assist their wives when they lost their fear of being ridiculed by others. Many more women then put themselves forward for training. While waiting, they tried to imitate their neighbours, but with mixed results. The support of the CEAS project decreased over the years until 1997, after which it was phased out, being no longer necessary. Training has since continued through the five zonal facilitators and the local agriculture extension service.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied


Burkina Faso

Region/ State/ Province:

Boulgou Province

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


Year of termination (if Approach is no longer applied):


2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

- train 6,000 women members of AFZ (in 1987) in making compost, and applying it to planting pits (zai) in order to double yields of sorghum or maize - the eventual target is for all farmers of the two departments to make, and apply compost on their fields, - improve the status of women and their livelihoods, - encourage women’s participation in development, - promote training and cooperative action

The SLM Approach addressed the following problems: Since the drought and famine periods of 1970-74 and 1981-84, the main concern of the women in Zabré was how to feed their families. This meant trying to raise crop production again to the pre-1970s average of 800 kg/ha from the level of 400 kg/ha to which it had fallen. The soils were deteriorating because of declining organic matter as increased population led to continuous cultivation without fallow periods. The status of women was low, and they found it hard to generate income through other activities.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

social/ cultural/ religious norms and values
  • hindering

Men were afraid of being ridiculed in case of failures.

Treatment through the SLM Approach: Contrastingly, women don’t fear being laughed at. The expectation of increasing the yields encourages them to take risks: eventually men also followed for the same reasons.

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • hindering

Training of farmers is relatively expensive.

Treatment through the SLM Approach: The donors (Fondation pour le Progrés de l'Homme) and CEAS took care of the approach costs.

institutional setting
  • hindering

The existing institution of the women’s association of Zabré (AFZ), which has functioned well for 12 years, needed to adapt to the new agroecological programme promoted by CEAS.

Treatment through the SLM Approach: The management of the AFZ was motivated to adopt and integrate the technology offered by CEAS.

legal framework (land tenure, land and water use rights)
  • enabling

Even though the land users do not own the land they cultivate (the state officially owns the land, though land use rights are traditional and secure) they receive immediate and full benefits through improved crop yields.

  • hindering
knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • hindering

One key question was: how best to teach composting to 6,000 women?

Treatment through the SLM Approach: AFZ already had an extension structure and the five facilitators served as ‘multipliers’

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

There were great differences - in the beginning at least - when AFZ merely asked the men to ‘allow’ their wives to learn about composting. After two years, men started to participate in the training and eventually as many of them as women began to make and use compost. Another difference was in discussions, when men tended to dominate.

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers
  • international organization
  • AFZ

Leaders of the women's association of Zabré

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation interactive discussion of problems in public meetings
planning interactive meetings with those in charge of the groups of women farmers
implementation interactive in exchange for the training received, some land users volunteered themselves as temporary/part-time facilitators
monitoring/ evaluation interactive the land users learned to control the quality and the efficiency of their work and voluntarily contributed to monitoring/evaluation - the facilitators were responsible for progress reports
Research passive visit of international researchers to the farms

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


The agroecological programme of the Zabré Women's Association (AFZ). There are five facilitator’s zones each with:
- 1 president, 1 vice-president
- 1 facilitator
- 1 pharmacy
- 1 cereal bank
- 1 meeting room
- 1 shop
- 1 demonstration/training site

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Were decisions on the selection of the Technology(ies) made:
  • Leaders of the women's association of Zabré (AFZ)

in consultation with experts from the Centre Ecologique Albert Schweitzer (CEAS).

Decisions on the method of implementing the SLM Technology were made by Leaders of the women's association of Zabré (AFZ). CEAS, their engineers at Zabré and the facilitators designed the approach, which fitted well into the existing structure of AFZ.

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Form of training:
  • farmer-to-farmer
  • demonstration areas
  • public meetings
  • courses
Form of training:
  • on-farm training
Subjects covered:

Training, as the central focus of the approach, was provided on two levels: project staff trained local facilitators, who then further spread the gained SWC knowledge among the land users. Subjects treated included compost making and application, reforestation, soil protection and anti-erosion measures. station training.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • on land users' fields
Describe/ comments:

Key elements: demonstrations and practical training of of AFZ’s members in the five demonstrationareas in the respective AFZ zones.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, greatly
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Specify type of support:
  • financial
  • capacity building/ training
  • equipment

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



bio-physical aspects were regular monitored by 0 through observations; indicators: colour, texture and temperature of compost
technical aspects were regular monitored by 0 through observations; indicators: learning progress and production
socio-cultural aspects were ad hoc monitored by 0 through observations; indicators: effects on input and product prices
economic / production aspects were regular monitored by 0 through measurements; indicators: agricultural output
area treated aspects were regular monitored by 0 through observations; indicators: fields with compost
no. of land users involved aspects were regular monitored by 0 through observations; indicators: trained land users and implementers of technology
management of Approach aspects were regular monitored by 0 through measurements; indicators: CEAS' accounting expertise
There were no changes in the Approach as a result of monitoring and evaluation

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


Give further details and indicate who did the research:

Applied research was not part of this approach. However CEAS used previous recommendations from an applied research station in Gorom (Burkina Faso) and thereby adapted the technology to the local situation.

5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

Approach costs were met by the following donors: international (CEAS&Fondation pour le progrés del'homme): 80.0%; government (national): 20.0%

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • equipment
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
machinery fully financed machines for the wells on demonstration areas
tools fully financed
  • agricultural
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
manure fully financed
  • infrastructure
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
ommunity infrastructure fully financed
If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • voluntary

the hope of increasing yields served as an effective incentive.

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The compost making and its application has helped to improve soil and water management, as the compost returns humus to the soil and increases its water retention capacity and thus improves ground cover.

Did other land users / projects adopt the Approach?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Many women's groups from other regions throughout the country invite delegations from AFZ to teach them compost making. The AFZ delegates are provided with food, accommodation, travel costs and presents in exchange for training. This is much cheaper than the 'official' compost training provided by the Association for Agroecological Technology Development (ADTAE).

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • yes
If yes, describe how:

The land users are continuing activities and can do so in future, assuming no new problems arise.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Land users have confidence in their organisation (AFZ) and learn while working in the fields and discussing with the facilitators (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: The facilitators know to nurture this confidence until the land users get profit from the compost (which in turn reinforces that confidence).)
AFZ was convinced about the necessity of compost before they knew about CEAS. They searched for a technical collaborator for training and financial support (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: This preliminary motivation is an asset and the technical partner has to fulfil neither less, nor more, than what AFZ expects.)
Training of local trainers/facilitators (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: Positive feedback from the farmers will stimulate the facilitators to continue their work.)
AFZ represents female land users, it is local and not 'created' by CEAS and is thus an ideal structure (How to sustain/ enhance this strength: CEAS has the knowledge, but AFZ has the power. AFZ needs to learn to use its power to access CEAS' knowledge bank.)

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Internal conflicts within the association may cause problems and there is a danger of CEAS specialists becoming involved in these AFZ rivalries CEAS should be aware of AFZ power struggles and not get involved. CEAS must stick to its technical role - which is related to knowledge only and not to power.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

UNEP (2002) Enriching soils naturally. In: Success stories in the struggle against desertification pp 5-8

Title, author, year, ISBN:

UNEP (2002) Enriching soils naturally. In: Success stories in the struggle against desertification pp 5-8

Links and modules

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