A groundbreaking joint humanitarian development effort, the RISE Initiative, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works across multiple projects, countries and partnerships to stop the cycle of crisis and dependence on humanitarian aid in the Sahel region of West Africa. NCBA CLUSA leads the effort for one of these projects, REGIS-ER, in Niger and Burkina Faso.
In Burkina Faso, REGIS-ER partners with the government and other RISE Initiative projects such as the REGIS-AG project, FASO program, ViM project and the World Food Programme. Working together, all the projects are helping to build communities’ capacities to withstand crisis.
Communities like Tanghin village in the central-north region of Burkina Faso, where a farmer named Korgho Gouri sees personally how the projects work together. Telling his story to high-level USAID visitors, including Greg Collins, coordinator for the USAID Center for Resilience, Korgho described the integration of training and support for 22 farmers.
In 2015, REGIS-ER trained these 22 farmers in conservation agriculture and farmer-managed natural regeneration techniques. Trying these techniques on 54 acres, the farmers’ average yields nearly doubled. With such impressive results, four new groups of farmers, including two women’s groups, decided to adopt the techniques. The two women farmer groups were initially trained on health and nutrition issues through the ViM project, and through training with REGIS-ER on agriculture techniques were producing quality cowpeas and able to benefit from a warehouse credit system from the REGIS-AG project, known in French as warrantage, bringing in higher prices for their crops.
The collaboration is also helping individuals like Sambo Ouedraogo, a volunteer village extension worker (VVV) who was one of the first recipients of chickens as part of REGIS-ER’s livestock-breeding program, known locally as habbanaye. Sambo was trained to care for and breed the chickens, then pass the original hens to another community member, ensuring others could also benefit. During the visit, three more community members were ready to receive hens from their neighbors.
Layering his initial training through REGIS-ER, Sambo is participating in a REGIS-AG project workshop as an addition to training, known as Auxiliaire d’Elevage (AE), to upgrade his skills to become a livestock farming assistant learning to vaccinate small ruminants like sheep and goats, and being trained in the sale of animal health products. This REGIS-ER and REGIS-AG collaboration is creating a network of local animal health care providers who, while developing their own business, can assist livestock producers to maintain and increase their productivity.
Sambo started with 14 chickens in 2014. Now, he has 80. As a VVV, he is able deliver quality poultry health services to the community and has many clients. By becoming an AE, he will further professionalize his skills and be able to increase his market.
Speaking with Sambo and Korgho, Greg Collins said the RISE initiative projects were “ready to take off,” and scale-up their partnerships and innovations. Between the projects, the overall USAID RISE Initiative committed more than $130 million over the first two years of a five-year effort to build resilience to recurrent crisis in West Africa’s Sahel. A region where chronic poverty, food insecurity, drought and violent extremism collide—and some 18.7 million people faced food insecurity in 2012 due to severe drought for the third time in a decade—collaboration between these large development projects is key.
A focus on strengthening institutions and governance, increasing sustainable economic wellbeing and improving health and nutrition in geographic zones, these investments are layered, sequenced and integrated with existing humanitarian and development assistance to give an estimated 1.9 million of the area’s most vulnerable a real chance to break the cycle of crisis and lessen the need for humanitarian assistance in the future.