Strengthening the resilience and food security of marginalised small producers and landless farmers, thanks to the allocation of plots set aside for production


The SOUM has a Saharan climate with a short rainy season of less than four months, and a long dry season. The area records about 400 to 500 millimetres of water per year, causing a cereal deficit in ARBINDA which pushes the population to migrate to the gold-panning sites where they have to deal with banditry and face health problems. According to a survey carried out in 2006-2007 by DGPSA (General Directorate for Agricultural Forecasts and Statistics), 37% of children under 5 years of age are suffering from malnutrition when the prevalence in the Sahel region is 10%. This means that the occurrence of any hazard most often leads to a disaster situation. Furthermore, a large proportion of households are not autonomous and depend on the market for their cereal supplies such as rice. This supply is generally obtained thanks to the sale of their animals, provided the latter are in good physical condition and there is a buoyant market, and that the prices of cereals and other food products are not rising. The nutritional situation is therefore characterised by endemic malnutrition. Given the socio-economic and environmental fragility of the context, it has become necessary to support these communities through actions that can strengthen their resilience and their livelihoods. As part of the efforts to adapt to drought, mitigate the risks and improve the life resources of the population, ODE in partnership with Christian Aid is implementing the UKAM programme, whose principal aim is to strengthen the resilience of the communities.

The activities carried out include:

  • Undertaking Vulnerability and Capacity Participatory Studies (EPVC) (which have revealed the existence of potential gaps with a capacity for rice production);
  • Supporting the villages for the identification of a provider of topographical surveys, training communities on techniques for the construction of small dams and follow-up of work on the shallows (construction of the small dams and parcelling of the shallows);
  • Making the inputs necessary for the production of rice available to the beneficiaries;
  • Training producers in rice production techniques;
  • Monitoring the producers during the production and harvesting phase and supporting the establishment of management committees for the shallows;
  • Supporting the committee to identify the participants undertaking the development work on the shallows;
  • Supporting the establishment of committees for allocating the plots.

The project was funded by Christian Aid.

The population has also contributed to the implementation of the activities, with the support of technical services.

The project lasted 5 years (2011-2015).


The community has owned the intervention of this project since, right from the start of the project until the implementation of the activities, it has participated in the process. The community's activities are indeed central to the various achievements: it has even established a committee to manage and follow-up the work on the shallows. It has participated in the work on the shallows, in the allocation of the plots and the production of rice according to the adequate technical routes. The local administration has played a very important role in the implementation of this project. ODE worked together with the regional, provincial and municipal authorities, and the customary and religious leaders, to form an advocacy group with the landowners. This advocacy resulted in 7 landowners accepting to give up their land to form the 5 ha of shallows for the benefit of the 192 people identified as being among the poorest without land. Since the potential beneficiaries were more numerous than the available land, a village committee was established in accordance with the local leaders and ODE's operational team to identify the beneficiaries of the plots according to the vulnerability criteria. The activities were coordinated thanks to awareness-raising sessions which consisted of: - Creating a spirit of sacrifice among the landowners who were willing to give up work space for the benefit of the whole community; - Creating a community effort to develop the site even if all the village members will not be able to own a plot immediately. Women were given a prominent place in accessing the land of the sites, because they make up the majority of the poorest communities, who must be given a greater opportunity to "get their head above water" for the benefit of all. The committee, in collaboration with ODE's operational team and the village authorities, coordinated the activities.
The most marginalised endangered groups were considered in the process, inasmuch as the shallows management committee identified the beneficiaries of the plots according to vulnerability criteria (widows without support, marginalised landless farmers, and other more vulnerable people, etc.) and developed a plan in collaboration with ODE's operational team; after which the priority was given to the families who had taken part in the work for developing the shallows. That is how 100 women and 92 men were chosen among the poorest and most vulnerable. And to encourage such solidarity, plots were also given to the landowners.
The activities of the project have taken account of the changing priorities of the community inasmuch as while rice production will make it possible to address the problems of malnutrition and food security, it will also make it possible for the community to save by not having to sell livestock in order obtain rice. Also, from a social point of view, because the project is more participatory it enables the community to strengthen its ties while giving the most disadvantaged populations the possibility to be autonomous. Rice is used to diversify the diet so that it is more balanced, thanks to the sale of some of the rice in order to buy other types of food. Some of the harvest is preserved for seeding the following season, which also reinforces the productive autonomy of these people who were previously vulnerable. This production also has positive incentive effects because the forage obtained after harvesting is intelligently preserved to meet the needs of cattle and other small ruminants. Furthermore, the producers intend to use manure to improve the fertility of the plots during the next season. As for combatting epidemics and child mortality, rice can be used as the main meal or as a porridge enriched with local products for children, which helps to combat malnutrition. Monitoring and learning is coordinated by the management committees who are giving feedback to ODE.


The initiative has successfully continued because ODE did not come to simply start the project and then leave. ODE has highlighted the community's achievements. Thanks to awareness-raising sessions on the benefits of the project and to training courses on the technical aspects of the cultivation and maintenance of the shallows, the population has been able to take ownership of the project's actions and now ensures the proper functioning of the shallows. Today, with the supervision of the CVDs, the activities of the project are continuing without the project. Local resources were used for the activities of this project because it was a community achievement and therefore the community participated with its human resources, particularly for developing the shallows and using some local material resources. The women were bringing drinking water and often voluntarily cooking meals. Thanks to the training, awareness-raising and supervision of the CVDs, the CBDRM practices are continuing and are not likely to stop any time soon, given the results obtained. This achievement has been a case that has motivated other neighbouring villages who are now asking for ODE's support to undertake similar projects.
Life has changed in Arbinda following the development of the shallows for producing rice. Thanks to these shallows, the most vulnerable population groups are benefiting from land that can be cultivated to produce good quantities of a food which used to be rare in the locality. Now the vulnerability of Arbinda is decreasing and famine has been stopped. The production of rice in large quantities makes it possible to sell the surplus and provide for the family. This money can then be used to undertake other activities that generate revenue.


Strengthening the resilience of small-scale vulnerable producers requires having access to the main production factors, including the land, but it needs to be the right land, which in the Sahel means shallows that have been developed. In addition to these production factors, it is necessary to ensure that the producers, both men and women, are technically trained and organised to master the process, which means involving them in the various aspects of the project. Strengthening resilience is a combination of concerted efforts that have been well thought through and undertaken in a timely way. The Lilgomde shallows are an example of success resulting from these joint efforts. To sustainably consolidate the achievements of the advocacy actions around land issues, we developed a strategy for allocating the shallows, with records duly signed by the municipal authorities, the beneficiaries, the landowners and the village council. Thanks to these efforts, the population has been able to increase its resilience.
Yes, national policies do include CBDRM, with the existence of the national advocacy network for reducing disaster risks. There are also laws on land ownership and reducing disaster risks. Yes, our organisation is linked to national structures such as local government which can locally standardise the working principles of CBDRM. This includes, for example, the National Assembly (Parliament) and the technical agricultural departments, the mayors, etc.
At the local level, CVDs are responsible for coordinating the CBDRM activities. They are assisted by the municipal and departmental authorities who provide their expertise through their technical services.
There is no long-term funding nor are incentive measures available for CBDRM.
Our project has been able to positively influence the village of Arbinda to change its culture. The project was able to influence the production of rice which used not to be a part of the population's farming practices. The members of the community recognise the benefits of CBDRM, seeing it as an approach which encourages their participation and involves them in the various discussions and decisions about the problems affecting them. Even the government recognises these benefits and is developing strategies to support the project leaders to continue with this approach which raises the awareness of the rural population, assisting them so that the development actions are sustainable. The population is better able to come together and talk about development issues.