In Balogo, a village in Burkina Faso’s Centre West Region, some 100 people stand in line in anticipation to receive 30,000 CFA (equivalent to US$ 60) each.
The cash is in return for 25 days of work – over the past month, this group have built diguettes, low earth walls, across a 20 hectare plot of land. Compacting these walls with sticks renders the earth hard, almost like a natural concrete foundation. This technique retains rainfall so that the participants can grow rice in the plot. The rice can be consumed by the group or sold for additional income - both options boost their food security.
In addition to the rice, the cash that participants receive from WFP in exchange for their work, is used to buy food and fulfill other basic household needs.
Julienne Ouedraogo, 39 with two children, said she plans to buy maize and sorghum with the money that she received at the distribution.
“I would also like to use some of the money to set up a small business, like a restaurant, but I need to cover the basics first,” she said, adding that she will spend the money carefully so that she can make it last.
She hopes that her elder daughter will become a primary school teacher. She lives alone with her children as her husband is away, working as a security guard in Côte d’Ivoire.
Pauline Ouedraogo, 46, another participant, who has three children, also received cash assistance from WFP last year during the Sahel food crisis. She remembers exactly how she used the money – “I bought one sack of maize and two sacks of millet. With what was left over, I also bought some clothes for my children.”
While the harvest of 2012 was much improved compared to the previous year, farmers are unsure of what to expect this year. “We need to wait for the rains to come to be able to say,” said Pauline.
The cash, which is distributed by Microfi, a national microfinance institution, comes at an opportune moment – a period called the lean season, the months before the harvest when granaries are close to empty and food prices tend to rise.
These activities are part of the WFP Burkina Faso’s project: “Building resilience and reducing malnutrition,” which is scheduled to run from April 2013 to December 2014.
"Cash for Assets provide immediate support for vulnerable households, particularly those affected by the crisis in 2012," said WFP Country Director Angelline Rudakubana. "But most importantly, this activity helps create productive assets that make participants better able to withstand shocks in the future such as drought."
The 100 participants are part of a much larger group – WFP is carrying out Cash for Assets activities across six regions of Burkina Faso. In June alone, WFP plans to distribute US$ 1.2 million to some 22,000 people.