In recent months, the Victory Against Malnutrition Plus (ViMPlus) Activity has made significant progress toward promoting gender and social inclusion and improving the lives of youth, women, and families in Burkina Faso. One of its more unique methods has been the argumentaire religieux, or religious dialogues, approach. Through this approach, the ViMPlus Activity is engaging local religious leaders to promote new behaviors within communities.  

Discussions around gender norms can be highly sensitive. In the Centre-Nord Region of Burkina Faso, religion is a big part of daily life. Religious leaders are influential among their followers, which makes them prime candidates for effectively sharing messages of positive gender norms and behaviors. The argumentaire religieux approach is just one way that the ViMPlus Activity, funded by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by ACDI/VOCA, is combatting extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition, especially among women and youth, in the region.

Religious Leaders To Connect with Families

The ViMPlus Activity identified 183 Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim leaders to help support the initiative. The first step will be for these leaders to complete six training sessions about the role of religion in promoting gender equality in society. The sessions will cover behaviors such as inclusive family decision making and the equitable sharing of workloads among family members, including male and female children.

After completing the trainings, each religious leader will work with two families, reaching 366 families within a year. The families will receive a life planning diary full of information on household decisions, including how to earn an income, manage cereal stocks, sell animals and crops, and provide children with schooling and proper nutrition. Families will also receive follow-up worksheets to track changes in their behaviors over time.

However, the argumentaire religieux approach will not end at the household level. The ViMPlus Activity will also encourage religious leaders to use their traditional platforms to promote community-wide changes as well. So far, religious leaders have started their trainings in Pissila and Tougouri communes. Many more are expected to follow.

Learn more about the Victory Against Malnutrition Plus Activity.

Learn more about our work in Burkina Faso.