Did a three-year initiative with women's savings groups achieve its aim of increasing resilience?
The Building the Resilience of Vulnerable Communities in Burkina Faso (BRB) project leveraged women’s savings groups as a platform to provide complementary services in nutrition and agricultural education, access to agricultural extension support, linkages to formal agricultural and micro-business financing, and gender dialogues with the aim of improving household resilience. A mixed-methods, longitudinal quasi-experimental research design implemented between 2016 and 2018 found that BRB participants experienced improved food security, dietary diversity, self-perceived resilience and sustained savings accumulation despite an economic downturn experienced in 2017 due to a drought and subsequent poor harvests. Women reported increases in the implementation of new income-generating activities, earned income, the adoption of climate-smart agricultural techniques and improvements in harvest production as a result of the project interventions. There were mixed outcomes in social norms related to decision-making power, fear of spouse, and confidence in speaking out in mixed-gender forums.
Despite the inherent difficulty in measuring changes in resilience, the research supporting the BRB project suggests a sense of “bouncing back” among the treatment group after the 2017 drought in Burkina Faso compared to the comparison group.