Bonne Arrivée: Welcome to Ouagadougou
By Diana Biggs | KF18 | Burkina Faso
One week ago today, I touched down in my new home of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The greetings of “Bonne Arrivée!” I received at the airport are now echoed each morning as I arrive at my field partner’s office and each evening as I return home and am greeted by my night guardian, Adama.
And a good arrival it was, in many parts thanks to a complimentary upgrade I somehow managed to receive from the airline, allowing me to sleep through both flights, Montreal – Paris and Paris – Ouagadougou.
Sleep one might think would come easy in this heat. While rainy season typically commences here in Burkina Faso around April / May, as some of you may have seen in the news, Burkina and its neighboring Sahel countries are currently facing a most difficult drought, the third to hit the West African region in less than ten years. The World Food Programme estimates that 18 million people are going hungry due to climate changes and recurrent droughts across the Sahel region. In Burkina Faso alone, almost 3 million people are affected by the food crisis, according to the national government.
My first day in the office, with the temperature in the ’30s (Celsius, my American readers!), I became somewhat struck with panic – how to possibly be productive in this heat?! Can a ceiling fan that already looks like it’s about to launch into flight possibly go any stronger? Are the AC machines at the back of the reception area a type of retro decor or can they possible be used? Naturally, wanting to take on a ‘go with the flow’ attitude, these questions are only debuting here…
The office, pictured here, is the Burkina Faso location of Entrepreneurs du Monde (EdM), one of Kiva’s first Non-MFI partners and my place of work for the next four months. EdM is a French NGO which supports the work of partners across 13 countries, in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. With the tagline “Help micro-entrepreneurs help themselves”, EdM began its work in Burkina Faso in 2008 and now works with 6 partners, including 3 MFIs, providing operational, technical and financial support, implementing adaptive management tools and helping to achieve effective social missions.
During the night after my first day at work, the rain came, providing some relief to vegetation and overheating animal life alike. My new colleagues in the office took delight in telling me I had “brought the rain”. Gladly! Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that it continues…
And as for sleep, the current lacking stems more from a certain member of the household (I will refrain from calling him a “pet” but, given the absence of any hens, I’m beginning to question his presence…)
Diana Biggs is a Kiva Fellow working with Entrepreneurs du Monde in Burkina Faso.