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Women Work to Make Dry Land Into Sustainable Farms

Africa's Sahel area is dry and farming there is difficult. But in Burkina Faso, women could be important in improving agriculture. The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, and its partners are working to support food production in the West African country.

In northern Burkina Faso, farmers till rocky land. Severe droughts are common and floods are taking place more often. Millions of people in Africa's Sahel area are at risk of food insecurity.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says that includes 2.8 million people from Burkina Faso.High food prices, poverty and displacement have been the result of drought throughout the area. Also, conflict in Mali by Muslim extremists has caused an estimated 65,000 Malian refugees into enter Burkina Faso.

A new project run by UNICEF and its partners aims to help communities improve on nutrition and food security. A group of women in northern Burkina Faso are now working towards turning dry land into sustainable vegetable and fruit farms. What they do not use for food, they can sell providing much needed income. The women are trained in farming methods and given money to build wells. They are also taught to farm in ways that conserve water. Through crop selection and rotation, their fields remain productive all year round.

The project is expected to last four years, and reach almost 1,500 villages across Burkina Faso, which has little infrastructure or industry. Many of the women farmers are taught about the nutritional value of the produce they sell. And they are then encouraged to share this information with their customers.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.