Short visit to Bereba

Leslie, kids and I went down to Bereba (in Tuy province, southwestern Burkina Faso).  What did we notice?

  • Tuy (and many other regions) having an exceptionally good rainy season.  Planting was early, rains have been steady and substantial, so far so good.
  • Apparently a few years ago herbicides were introduced into Tuy, now everyone is using them, and hand-hoe weeding quickly disappearing.
  • Sofitex now selling fertilizer to GPC for use on maize fields,  when formerly restricted fertilizer to cotton.  One smart farmer noted yield increases for maize with fertilizer were “very large.”
  • Not that I am so very interested, but lots of land conflicts brewing and bubbling.  All over Burkina there is a kind of “race” as population is still growing quickly, technology is largely labor-saving (herbicides), and local land frontier is over.  (Why am I not interested?  I find land conflicts to be very banal.  Some anthropologists made a living chronicling land disputes etc. in judiciary and local fora.  Like adultery.  I used to be very interested, now I find it tedious and somewhat sordid.)
  • Bereba still has no lotissement (land survey to demarcate parcels and enable people to build proper buildings and have electricity).  Not clear if the whole sorry politics of the issue have changed much.
  • Hounde on the other hand continues to grow tremendously, especially because of multitude of gold strikes in the area, especially by artisanal miners.
  • Speaking of artisanal miners, how weird was it to see guys by the side of the road with metal detectors?  Apparently people are buying them for about $1000, and then renting them out for $100 a day plus a share of the gold found.  A friend in Bereba assured me he could name at least 50 people in the province who had earned at least $5000 each through artisanal mining.
  • Paved road from Dedougou-Bobo still basically empty…. one vehicle every five minutes in either direction.  Could not possibly pass a cost-benefit test.  Reaction of one intelligent farmer: “But, it passed *their* cost-benefit test” (meaning government and contractors and cronies).
  • The Mare aux Hippopotames in Balla was worth a visit, though we did not see the hippos.  Next time I would bring shorts and swim in the middle of the lake (there are crocs on the edges).  For all the hoopla of being a UN Biosphere reserve, tourism at the site is no more developed than it was in 1995 when we last visited.  Not a single improvement visible.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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