An innovative approach - Research project on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Burkina Faso and Senegal

Burkina FasoSenegal

Article written by CECI-Senegal

An innovative approach - Research project on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security in Burkina Faso and Senegal

Does COVID-19 have an impact on Women and Men in terms of Food Security?
What are the negative effects of COVID-19?
What are the effects on trade and production?

CECI implemented a research project on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security (FS) and on the changes in the relationship between men and women in Burkina Faso and Senegal. A team of researchers from Brock University in Canada, CEDRES in Burkina Faso and ENSA in Senegal co-created an innovative methodology and research tools for the development of this study, which specifically targeted poor and vulnerable rural households in both countries. The study aims to provide in-depth knowledge of the problems faced by the targeted communities. The results will help define or orient policies, strategies and intervention models adapted to the national and regional levels, in relation to food security, gender and resilience.

In Senegal, Dr. Katim Touré, a teacher-researcher specializing in production systems and agricultural and agri-food value chains at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Agriculture at the Université de Thiès (ENSA), coordinated the field activities.

Data was collected in four locations in the country, two in the north, Dagana and Podor, and two in the south, Vélingara and Sédhiou. This was done through interviews and a participatory knowledge co-creation approach aimed at economic empowerment of participants. At least 200 people participated in the interviews including producers, processors, traders and local leaders. A minimum of 50 people from the production sectors described above were involved in the participatory analysis activities in the research areas.

In each area, the research methodology and tools were introduced through co-construction activities. The activities are conducted in separate subgroups of men and women.

It began with a general introduction and initiation to Photovoice to explain the project to the participants. This consisted of capturing situations, before and after COVID-19, and discussing the effects of the pandemic on food security and gender relations.

Then came the Photovoice analysis: using a camera provided to them, the participants had to capture images from before and during COVID-19, analyze them and present the photos of their choice. Two groups of 6 men and 6 women, both of them including people from the production sectors, three traders and one processor, were asked to exchange and share their experiences.

Then, another innovative activity was conducted: participatory mapping. Participants were asked to draw their area before and during COVID-19, distinguishing between periods of containment and post-containment to demonstrate changes. For example, production, roads, fields, processing activities, activities in local and cross-border markets, movement of people and goods within countries and across borders.  

This visual and participatory approach allowed stakeholders to express themselves on the effects of COVID-19 on food security and gender relations, despite all the different languages and dialects spoken in the areas surveyed.

Afterwards, a graphical analysis of power will allow us to better understand and identify the actors in the community who hold power of influence within the communities and to differentiate between those who are allied to the cause of women and those who can support food resilience.

This analysis also identifies the different perspectives of men and women in their view of power relationships.

The graphical analysis of stakeholder power and interest consists of creating a matrix of local actors by identifying those who have more power and are likely to improve the cause of women in the context of this study.

Finally, the participatory restitution and analysis activities towards the end of the study. They follow the analyses carried out by the researchers of the four institutions involved in the research. The results of the different co-construction tools will then be pooled with the results of the semi-directed surveys and shared with the local communities and actors. In a second phase, the results, corrected and completed following this community analysis, will be shared at the national level during the restitution days with all the actors involved.

The key elements of the process of co-analysis of the data with the communities are the outputs (results) of all the steps that will be posted in the communities and shared with local decision makers, influential people, etc.

After the results are shared, a problem tree will be developed with the participants to enrich and deepen the analysis. The problem tree will be used as a joint analysis tool to facilitate discussions on the root causes and consequences of some of the findings emerging from the data collected. Local leaders (W/M) in each zone and the most influential women's groups will also be involved in this analysis process in order to gain their perspective and insight into the questions and findings of the study.

The problem tree is a tool for identifying a central problem, its root causes and consequences, and then initiating discussion with stakeholders about inclusive solutions that emanate from the affected communities as well as the behaviours to be adopted by all. In this case, this tool will be used in the context of a results analysis workshop.

The objective of the problem tree is to facilitate a joint analysis of the root causes and consequences of some of the emerging results of the data collected on the effects of COVID-19 and its effects on the pillars of AS (availability, access, stability and use) in Senegal and Burkina and on the transformation of power relations between W/M. This approach aims to improve the understanding and nuance of the data and analyses previously conducted by the researchers, but also to allow for a transversal appropriation of the data and analyses in order to find solutions within the local communities and institutions.

Learn more about this project

This project is carried out in partnership with Brock University, the École Nationale Supérieure d'Agriculture (ENSA) and 
Centre d’Études, de Documentation et de recherches économiques et sociale (CEDRES) - Burkina Faso

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