The West African country of Burkina Faso has faced a number of shocks and stresses in recent years, from drought to the internal displacement of two million people due to armed groups. For the last five years, the Victory Against Malnutrition Plus (ViMPlus) Activity, funded by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and implemented by ACDI/VOCA along with Save the Children and five local NGOs, has been collaborating with other development partners to address the persistent vulnerability of communities in the Centre-Nord Region.

Now, the ViMPlus Activity is entering its sustainability period. The handing off of important activities to other local actors has begun. This blend of humanitarian-development-peace (HDP) work presented a unique opportunity to convene a knowledge-sharing event, bringing more than 200 stakeholders wrestling with the country’s problems together for two days late last year.

Participants in the event hosted by the ViMPlus Activity and USAID shared their experiences implementing development activities in the extremely complex security environment that currently exists there. They talked about strategies that worked as well as intractable problems that are arising in the region. Key questions, such as how a successful resilience intervention can be based on an analysis of people’s real needs and how to improve the capacities of local communities, were discussed. The event not only explored successful interventions, but also the planning and adjusting of those interventions through Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting, or CLA.

Collaborating: Sharing Both Failures and Successes

Bringing together USAID and other donors, government representatives, development program partners, and community members to learn from each other is key to ensuring a sustainable future for the region. At the event, participants had a platform not only to share successes but also challenges and different perspectives to find solutions. They discovered that collaboration relied on pooling their resources and avoiding duplicating approaches with the same populations.

“The government will pay particular attention to the conclusions that emerge from this knowledge-sharing event, in order to improve the resilience of our populations.”

— Mr. Emilien Bakoné, Executive Secretary of Burkina Faso’s National Food Security Council

Learning: Making Information Accessible

Participants shared knowledge in a variety of ways, from presentations to poster galleries, small group discussions, and group working sessions, all of which helped deepen learning. They engaged with the issues that matter while networking and forming relationships. Local voices were heard because simultaneous translation during the event allowed people using local languages to contribute.

Songdwaogo SAWADOGO from the Goèma/Pissila commune speaking at the knowledge-sharing event.

Adapting: Spreading the Word

Participants exchanged many ideas during this event, which set the stage for the learning and sharing to continue. The next step is to feed the knowledge gained into learning platforms and forums.

For example, participants found that factors for successful HDP interventions included the inclusion of women, youth, and religious leaders, flexibility and adaptability, and peer learning to inform decision-making. Participants also discovered that sequencing, layering, and integration of interventions are key to building resilience, but coordination between actors can be difficult. Explore more learnings in the full report.

New Synergies and Action Plans

The ViMPlus Activity and other programs within Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced II (RISE II), an initiative managed by the Sahel Regional Office, will play an active role in the national drive to capture and share resilience experiences, approaches, and practices. Meanwhile, state authorities will monitor and evaluate program activities to guarantee accountability and effectiveness. Through a concerted effort, partners operating in the region will establish new synergies in humanitarian-development-peace work and maximize the scope of what programs are trying to accomplish.

Learn more about the Victory Against Malnutrition Plus (ViMPlus) Activity.

Learn more about our work in Burkina Faso.

Lucien Ouali

Lucien Ouali is ACDI/VOCA’s Deputy Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Victory Against Malnutrition Plus Activity in Burkina Faso.