BARKA Foundation

The BARKA Foundation's mission is to serve as a catalyst for achieving the MDGs in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Our methodology is community-led, grassroots and combines indigenous and modern technologies to develop a set of best practices in areas of clean water accessibility, sanitation, irrigation, sustainable agriculture, women's empowerment, education, healthcare, and renewable energy. BARKA's work is ultimately about co-creating a culture of peace.
Aug 8, 2012

Clean Water & Sanitation for Tantiaka

Tantiaka
Tantiaka's new well made possible by YOU!

Dear BARKA Supporter,

We are settling back in the rhythm of life here in the USA after three grueling, swelteringly hot and productive 3+ months in Burkina.  Here is an update of the miraculous work that took place on the ground between March and June:

It is hard to describe the joy of the reunion with the villagers of Tantiaka after being away more than two years.  This has become our family and although it was hard to be gone from them for so long, we wanted to make sure we had the financial resources to complete the first phase of the project-- to drill the well and build composting latrines for the village.  With your steadfast and patient support, we were able to do exactly that.

Working hand in hand with the local governmental authorities (Prefect and Mayor), the traditional authorities (particularly Lompo, the king of 44 villages), and the local water & sanitation steering committee (consisting of and appointed by villagers themselves) we met with the entire village numerous times.  These meetings were conducted in the local language (made possible by BARKA's fantastic local partners) and focused on the need for improved sanitation, as well as teaching the principles of basic hygiene.  In a community where open defecation is the norm, behavior change is the name of the game and doesn't come easy.  Thankfully, the village was with us and understood the need for these changes to sustain the benefits of clean water and to improve overall health for all.

From the moment we arrived in Burkina we began searching for the best local partner to drill the well.  When we found OCADES we knew we had found the right one. They guarantee their work for a year, have an optional training program to teach people how to troubleshoot problems down the road, and were meticulous in finding the perfect spot to drill for water (working with the village committee at every step).  By Earth Day on April 22nd, the planet had its newest borehole in the ground. The well drillers said it was among the best they had ever seen in terms of its depth and flow rate.  The water was tested and proved to be good drinking water.  Over the next 6 weeks, a concrete platform was built, the wheel pump was installed (we opted for the wheel because it makes for easier and less laborious access), and a reservoir was constructed where animals will be able to make use of any excess water from the well. 

Simultaneously, project partner ONEA (the national sanitation company) was working with villagers to construct the gender-specific composting latrines.  These latrines make use of a simple and innovative technology that successfully transforms humanure into agricultural fertilizer.  This embodies BARKA's commitment to low-tech sustainable solutions that are appropriate for rural communities.  ONEA also hired specialists to lead village meetings which focused on how to use and maintain the latrines, and why improved sanitation is healthier than open defecation.

By the end of May we were ready to inaugurate the new well and composting latrines.  By this time BARKA had successfully made several new relationships with potential future partners and they all came to see the results of our efforts in the field.  USAID, the US Embassy, heads of international NGOs and country-based organizations traveled far (some almost 4 hours) to come and celebrate with us.  BARKA's robust hygiene education program continued with a theatrical performance in the local language emphasizing how to make the best use of their new source for clean water and how to avoid health problems. And in keeping with BARKA's belief that local culture must be a strong component within development, a traditional dance troupe performed and electrified us all with its tam tams (big, deep sounding drums) and crowd-pleasing dance moves.  Many VIPs spoke including the local king and Prefect.  In addition, a BARKA partner from 2009, the National Lottery of Burkina (LONAB) which is a private company announced a generous donation to BARKA Foundation.  Lastly, in a symbolic effort to unite indigenous Africa with the indigenous people of the United States, we sang the Native American Water Song as an official representative of LONAB turned the wheel of the well.  We ended the Inauguration with a conference call to all US donors as a way to literally bring our supporters to the party.  And of course, there was then a big feast.  Villagers rose to the occasion by preparing enough food and local millet beer to feed the six villages which came to the blessed event. 

In short, it was a high point of our lives.  The fulfillment of this promise seems to have opened many doors both in Burkina and internationally and we're now preparing for BARKA's next steps which will include ongoing work with Tantiaka (more on that in the next project report) and plans for a new well in another village where women currently have to walk 7 kilometers every day for water.  We are humbled by the knowledge that we could not have achieved this without you and are grateful beyond words.  Please share this beautiful and inspiring story with your friends and family to garner more support for more successful projects in Burkina Faso.

On behalf of the villagers of Tantiaka, we say barka to you-- bless you, thank you.

Ina & Esu 

The new borehole is drilled
The new borehole is drilled
Two committee members watch the well being drilled
Two committee members watch the well being drilled
The local King and Prefect at a village meeting
The local King and Prefect at a village meeting
How villagers of Tantiaka used to collect water
How villagers of Tantiaka used to collect water
The composting latrine is dug
The composting latrine is dug
Men
Men's and women's completed latrines
Villagers take their look at the new latrine
Villagers take their look at the new latrine
Hygiene education theatre at the Inauguration
Hygiene education theatre at the Inauguration
The dancers and the drummers at Inauguration
The dancers and the drummers at Inauguration
May 9, 2012

Realization of Dreams

Water gushing from the well during drilling
Water gushing from the well during drilling

After years of preparation, the well drilling has finally started in Le Petite!  In less than a month, Esu and Ina were able to locate a spot, find a contractor, and begin drilling!  As of now, the drilling is complete and the concrete platform around the well is in the works.

Bempoua, a loyal friend of BARKA, said she holds us in her heart and gave us many blessings for long life and success to the endeavors of BARKA Foundation.  She told Ina and Esu that although her eyes may be big, they’re not wide enough to see all the new things BARKA is bringing to her and to the lives of villagers--things she had never understood before. The gulimanchema language she speaks is full of poetry like this, poetry that continues to inspire our work.

However, in addition to dealing with the water situtation in Tantiaka, Ina and Esu are also trying to improve the living condition of the women in the region in other ways.  During the meeting two years ago when the women asked BARKA Foundation for clean water, they also asked for a mill.  They live in an agrarian society, and in order to process the grain, they have to mill it by hand or take it to a machine far away.  Oftentimes, it is a day-long project.

According to the women, water is great, composting toilets are great too, but what they really need is a mill. 

While BARKA won’t be forgoing our sanitation initiative, we have a new goal for Le Petite.  We are trying to figure out a way to get these women a mill.

We at BARKA believe that one action cannot solve all the problems the people of Tantiaka face.  As such, while we are ecstatic about the new well (it feels good to deliver on a promise!), we know that our work is far from over.  We appreciate your continued support in all our endeavors.

"Barka" is a West African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity.

Bempoua symbolically washes her face in the water
Bempoua symbolically washes her face in the water

Links:

Jan 31, 2012

Preparing Our Return to Burkina to Implement the Project

Greetings and blessings for a happy, fulfilling new year.  The BARKA Foundation is on the move and one to watch in 2012.

Right now we're readying a return to Tantiaka to implement the water, sanitation & hygiene project and getting all the final details in place.  We actually expected to be in Burkina right now, however shortly before Christmas Ina broke her ankle.  She is recovering beautifully and as soon as she's able to walk, we'll be on a plane to Burkina Faso. 

So much is involved in preparing a trip like this.  It's safe to say we will return forever changed after living with the people of Tantiaka for 3-4 months and fulfilling our promise to them to address the community's water needs.  We're currently updating our vaccinations, purchasing necessary items such as hand pump water filters and working out travel arrangements.  Since BARKA is still searching for operational funds, it would be most appreciated if you would consider making a donation at this time to help cover some of these trip-related expenses which otherwise must be covered out-of-pocket.  Given the fact that we have not collected any salary for the past 5 years, your contributions are vital in ensuring the success of the project.   

We are thrilled about the huge step we're about to take and so grateful to have you on this journey with us.  We'll be in touch soon.

"Barka" is a West African word of gratitude, blessing & reciprocity.

Barka,

Ina & Esu

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