Small-scale women producers
Women-led milk processing units are taking the lead in producing the yoghurt for the schools. In Dori, the capital of the Sahel region, WFP works with Kossam N’aï Bodedji (KNB), a group of thirty women that purchases milk from small producers and turns it into yoghurt for the students.
When the group began in 2010, they were only working with 22 litres of milk per day. Now, the partnership with WFP allows them to process 200 litres daily.
[quote|"Every day I had to rely on my husband for my needs and those of my children. Since our group has been working with WFP, I’m basically financially independent."]
Hadiatou Ba Koïta, a 36-year-old mother of five (second left in photo above), is the group’s president. She says that the beginning was not easy.
“We had many difficulties at first. Even our husbands did not believe in our adventure. But now, KNB allows us to be autonomous, to meet our needs and those of our families. Every day I had to rely on my husband for my needs and those of my children. Since our group has been working with WFP, I’m basically financially independent. My husband respects me more, and consults with me before making decisions. We now have more value in the eyes of our families and societies - more respect.”
Thanks to WFP’s expertise, she says, their production and food quality have improved.
Hadiatou is hoping to further expand so that within a year, KNB can have its own herd of dairy cows, and one day, a factory. They set aside a portion of their profits each month for future investments like these.
[quote| “With the example of our groups’ success, more and more women in the region are coming to us for advice.”]
In a context where families struggle to provide two daily meals to their children, and malnutrition rates are some of the highest in the country, the school meals encourage parents to send their children to school.
Estelle Bambara, a 27-year-old teacher in Kampiti (photo below), says that school meals have helped to improve attendance.
Typically, during the harvest season, about a third of students skip school to help their parents in the field. But with the addition of the yoghurt to the school meals, she has seen attendance grow.
Estelle says that parents of students are beginning to understand the importance of schooling for both girls and boys. The school has enrolled the largest number of students this year – a hundred students.
[quote|“Without programmes like these, it would be difficult to get children to attend school in the Sahel region” ]
“Without programmes like these, it would be difficult to get children to attend school in the Sahel region,” she concludes.
The importance of school meal programmes in a country like Burkina Faso is well established. In the Sahel region, WFP's school meals programme encourages enrolment and attendance, especially that of girls. Some schools now enrol more girls than boys - proof that programmes like these contribute to gradually closing the gender gap.
One of these girls is Djeneba Hamadou Diallo, a bright 12-year-old (photo below), who is one of nine children. She works hard in school, and is one of the top five students in her class. Her favourite subjects are math and science.
[quote| "I like going to school – I get to read, write, and eat good food! ]
Like all 955 schools in the Sahel region, her school, in Kampiti, receives WFP food in school canteens, with breakfast at recess and lunch at noon.
"I like going to school – I get to read, write, and eat good food! The midday meal is good, but I like the yoghurt especially because it’s sweet," she says with a big smile.
At home, Djeneba’s family usually eats tô (corn flour dough or millet with vegetable sauce), millet porridge, beans, and occasionally rice and milk. But the milk she has at home is not as fresh as the yoghurt at school.
[quote|"My parents appreciate the food – they know that when I work hard at school, the family benefits.”]
Djeneba also receives take-home food rations for her and her family. WFP distributes food rations for girls so that they can take 10 kg of grains home each month, another aspect that encourages parents to enrol their daughters in school and keep them there.
"My parents appreciate the food – they know that when I work hard at school, the family benefits.” Djeneba wants to do well in the entrance exams for high school next year and become a teacher rather than marry young, like many other girls in her community.
[quote|"My dream is to one day become a teacher to teach children in my village to read, write, and count."]
"My dream is to one day become a teacher to teach children in my village to read, write, and count," she says.
NOTE: WFP’s school meals programme in Burkina Faso would not be possible without the generous support of Canada, Luxembourg, and the Cartier Charitable Foundation.
If you want to know more about what WFP is doing in the country visit the Burkina Faso country page