Landesa in Burkina Faso: Current Initiatives

Landesa conducted an extensive study on women’s land rights in Burkina Faso for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from January to March, 2011 with the aim of helping CRS develop programs that help women improve their harvests. For this assessment, our researchers met with women in rural villages and local leaders to assess women’s rights to land and natural resources, household divisions of agricultural labor, access to market, and household decision-making power. Read more about Landesa’s work in Burkina Faso.

Our research found that there are a variety of customs and institutions limiting women’s land tenure rights. Also, increasing population pressures and land degradation make women’s access to land even more tenuous. Based on our findings from three provinces in eastern Burkina Faso, we will be providing recommendations to help CRS create interventions that protect or enhance women’s land rights. We are also supporting CRS over the next four years to incorporate gender concerns into their monitoring and evaluation system.


Burkina Faso’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture, livestock, and forestry. Almost 90% of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, often on lands that are highly fragile and prone to flooding and desertification. The introduction of soil and water conservation techniques has enabled many farmers to grow crops on land they had long since abandoned. But, tenure security is critical to enable adoption of these techniques. Many women lack the necessary control rights over the land they farm and their own labor, diminishing their incentives and capacity to invest in measures that could significantly boost the productivity of their crops.

Past projects include:

Burkina Faso assessment of women’s application of regenerative agricultural techniques.

In 2010, Catholic Relief Services partnered with Landesa to undertake an assessment of factors inhibiting women’s adoption of productivity-enhancing agriculture techniques in Gna Gna Province. Uneven household decision-making power and tenure insecurity were identified as major factors curtailing women’s adoption of the techniques. Male household heads typically allocate the most marginal land to their wives, then take it back after women have invested their labor to restore the land. Most women farmers in this region also lack control over farming inputs such as livestock and family labor, and do not manage cash income. They are often not permitted to call on community labor, critical for application of techniques such as digging compost pits and constructing water capture formations. Time constraints also make application of labor-intensive techniques impractical for women, whose daily activities tend to be significantly greater than men’s. Landesa will be working with CRS to help identify tenure factors influencing application of agricultural technologies promoted under a new USAID Multi-Year Agricultural Program in eastern Burkina Faso. April to May 2010.