Burkina Faso

The context

Over the last 50 years desertification has progressed in the Sahelian region of Africa (below the Sahel desert). The result of this major environmental predicament is that cropland has become too dry and is longer suitable for cultivation. This in turn means increased poverty in countries like Burkina Faso.
The main causes of this progressive desertification are freak climate changes as well as human activities which constantly impoverish natural resources.

Indeed, for several years, records have shown a strong decline in rainfall, a gradual drying up of the ground water, but also an impoverishment of the crop land that cannot produce enough in quantity or quality to feed the countries’ population. Moreover, the population growth is driving farmers (80% of the active population in Burkina Faso) to overexploit their land because farmland is shrinking. In addition to that, the wooded expanses on the savanna are also shrinking as village people cut down trees for fire wood or to build their houses. Finally, damage also comes from roaming animals that are not penned in, and are thus free to go and feed on the young branches and tender tree saplings.

Plant coverage is deteriorating, soil erosion is progressing, farm-land is becoming dry and sterile, leading to more fragile food security, mainly for the rural population.

It is thus urgent to fight against the calamity of desertification, and it is in this context that the ICHEC Housing Project has offered to intervene with the help of the students.

The development project

Our participation is part of the fight against desertification and food insecurity (access to water). During the year, part of the money collected by the students will be used to contribute to various projects such as boring wells, building reservoirs in villages, sanitary buildings, or developing market garden areas, etc. In July, once they are on the spot, the participants together with their Burkinabe partners will plant trees. Trees are helpful to slow down desertification.

The trees that are planted in Burkina Faso are eucalyptus "camadelensis". Why? Because the soil in which we are planting is very eroded and unsuitable for cultivation; fruit trees wouldn’t resist very long without constant support from the villagers in terms of water and time… both of which are in short supply.
Eucalyptus trees don’t need much water or care. Moreover the problem of roaming cattle is practically inexistent as the animals are not fond of eucalyptus leaves. Also, the eucalyptus tree offers the advantage of growing fast and of producing new ramifications when it is cut short. So it makes it possible to fight against desertification caused by intensive cutting of wood for building or firewood, but also more generally against growing desertification in sub-Saharan Africa. This tree also has medicinal properties that the villagers can use. 

Sometimes, on better land, we plant other species, such as "numier" trees. These trees do not impoverish the soil and are more suitable for cultivation. With our partners we try to assess at best the type of soil that is to be reforested before choosing the species of tree that will be planted. Occasionally, we plant a few fruit trees (mostly mango trees) near a school. The school children take care of them every day and enjoy the fruit.

The partners

ASMADE is a Burkinabe NGO whose aim is to help village organizations to translate their preoccupations into realistic projects in order to fight against poverty. On a daily basis, they work to promote social rights such as health, education, access to water, etc. on behalf of the most destitute populations. More info on

GEFED Association is a non-profit association created by young people in the Koudougou area. Their aim is to promote economic development and make young people aware of environmental problems, in particular the problem of desertification.

The ultimate objective is to make young people feel they can stay and build their future in their own villages instead of migrating to urban areas. More information on

Défi Belgique Afrique (DBA), a Belgian NGO, is also an essential partner in setting up the project in Burkina Faso. More information on