Alizeta Ouedraogo has been living in Korsimoro in northern Burkina Faso for almost 40 years. Though Alizeta was not able to attend school, her entrepreneurial spirit means that she runs multiple farming enterprises, breeding livestock and growing millet, beans, sesame and more.
The money that she makes from her business is either re-invested into more livestock, or set aside to support her grandchildren’s education. Alizeta is socially-minded as well as business-focused – working to train others in her community with the skills she learnt participating in a Tree Aid project.
However, as a woman living in the rural drylands of Africa, the climate crisis is making her daily working life much harder. Waking up every morning, Alizeta washes her children & goes to work on her farmland, but it’s hard work in the scorching heat; she must walk miles for water each day, and farming is becoming increasingly difficult due to the impacts of deforestation and soil degradation.
In rural villages like Korsimoro, deforestation is an unfortunate consequence of poverty – cutting down trees for firewood is essential, and making charcoal from timber is one of few ways to earn an income, particularly when harvests are becoming increasingly unpredictable each year.
That’s where your support can help: Tree Aid are working with entrepreneurs like Alizeta to develop their opportunities for sustainable businesses. With the right initial support and training, Alizeta can begin selling tree products, like leaves, fruits and seeds, which don’t require any form of deforestation. Tree Aid are planting ‘nutrition gardens’, filled with nutritious trees like baobab and moringa for community use. We provide training to grow and care for them to ensure the trees survive too. This includes training on water conservation methods and natural pest control .
Alizeta can now harvest, process, and sell these products at market, to supplement her existing income. What’s more, in an area impacted by malnutrition due to land degradation and the climate crisis, these nutritious ‘super trees’ can provide much needed healthy addition to her family’s diet.
After the tree products are grown and processed, another challenge awaits Alizeta - getting these products to market and ensuring a fair price. That's why Tree Aid helps Alizeta's community to come together in local enterprise groups, which support them to access bigger markets and negotiate better prices.
These groups have developed business plans and are now selling tree products in 14 kiosks and two shops. Alizeta shared her thoughts on the value of working communally, a change she has seen since the introduction of Tree Aid’s project:
“When we get into an association the union makes us stronger… there are fifty women working on this site and thanks to these fifty women, we can do a lot of things.”
Alizeta’s training means she is now able to helps others in her region improve their skills too – she told us how the success of Korsimoro’s community group has become an inspiration to other groups from miles around!
“Thanks to our cohesion and our mutual aid, many associations in the region consider us as models, they come to learn with us so we are very proud of this.”
All 200 of the proposed nutrition gardens have now been set up in this region, and local people have been trained to care for them – in total, over 375,000 trees have been grown and planted.
As someone that has benefited from training, and now helps to train others, Alizeta is passionate about the impact that learning these new skills can have. She explained: “we have to develop the village and the country so there is this knowledge. We must help people to help themselves before helping the community… if this continues in other localities, we think the country succeeds!”
Alizeta told us how the project has transformed her own prospects for the future, explaining “from this work, we can see that our future is assured. Our beautiful daughters are following in our footsteps and I think that they will not have any difficulties in the future.”
She offered Tree Aid supporters like you a “cry from the heart” of thanks, saying “we also ask Tree Aid to help other women who are in difficulty like us because with this help, we are able to support our children in school”.
With your continued support, Tree Aid will be able to honour Alizeta’s request, as we work with communities to hold back the desert and tackle poverty across Africa’s drylands.