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Press Releases, 12/19/2006

Finland developed forest fire prevention system for Burkina Faso

Press release 533/2006
19 December, 2006

The development cooperation project launched in 1998 with Burkina Faso, located in West Africa, has now been completed. The cooperation applying Finnish know-how resulted in the development of an effective forest fire prevention system suited for Burkina Faso. During eight years, Finland's contribution to the project amounted to over 4.5 million euros. The participants in the project included the government of Burkina Faso as well as thousands of villagers in four provinces.

The project enhanced living conditions in the countryside by means of developing the exploitation of arable land and natural resources, as well as by developing forest fire management systems through research and development.

The results have been remarkable, particularly at the village level. According to the research conducted, the improved ability of local people to manage forest fires raised the arable productivity and, as a result of that, enhanced the living conditions at the village level. The results have been significant also outside Burkina Faso. In the future, the experiences and lessons learned from the project can be applied also elsewhere in the Sahel region and in Africa in general.

During the project, the activities were extended to the total of approximately 360 villages and the work included teaching and developing forest fire management systems that had been learned earlier. The expert services for the project were provided by Scanagri Finland Oy. 

Agriculture in Burkina Faso is traditionally based on agricultural burning. In order to prevent desertification, clearing of land for cultivation by use of fire was totally banned in the 1980s. However, this did not prevent desertification. Soon it was also discovered that sensible use of fire was ecologically beneficial for the sensitive flora of the Sahel region, as long as people know how to plan and manage the use of fire properly.

The project organised information and education campaigns, which increased people's knowledge of forest fire management. The means used for spreading information included radio campaigns, advertisements, video documentaries, posters, theatrical plays, seminars and different audio visual methods.

In four provinces, the total of 368 village committees was established to plan, steer and implement forest fire management programmes at the village level. The planning and implementation was promoted by offering training to the village committees - both men and women – and by monitoring the quality and results of local activities on a regular basis. During the project, almost 1,200 field agents and over 12,000 male and female farmers were trained. In addition, about a dozen research projects were carried out on issues related to forest fire management.

The small-scale projects carried out at the village level have been a great success. They helped to enhance and diversify the skills related to exploitation of local natural resources, and raise the income level of the villagers. With help of the small-scale projects, the villagers learned more efficient ways of producing and marketing, among other things, honey, soap, cattle feed and karité shea butter, as well as improved beekeeping and sheep farming methods.

Additional information: Attaché Markus Teir, tel. +358 9 1605 6352, Unit for Eastern and Western Africa, and Adviser Anu Saxén, tel. +358 9 1605 6315, Department for Africa and the Middle East



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Updated 12/19/2006

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