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Burkina Faso: Toward Human Well-being

Published: 2019-11-20

During 2019, our blog posts will primarily feature a range of countries in which IFS has awarded grants to early career scientists, drawing on responses to a 15-item survey with mostly open-ended questions that we are sending to former and present grantees in selected countries, as an element of this year’s process culminating in our new 2021-2030 strategy. This month we highlight Burkina Faso, where 175 people (38 women and 137 men) have been awarded grants by IFS since it was founded in 1974. Of the 175 grantees, 46 went on to receive a second grant, and seven a third grant.

Nighisty Ghezae, DirectorNighisty Ghezae, IFS Director

Of the 160 invitations sent to colleagues in Burkina Faso, 50 (or 28%) responded to the survey. Among them, 17% have master's degrees, 64% have doctorates and 19% have done post-doctoral work, with 85% of respondents living and working in Burkina Faso. They are professors and lecturers of various ranks, scientists and researchers, engineers, government and non-government officials. Their research areas include biodiversity, crop and food sciences, environmental and food sciences, water and sanitation, and animal nutrition.

Of the examples given of how their research has been put to use, of note are highlighting the unregulated use of antibiotics in breeding, and the presence of multidrug-resistant bacteria in poultry farming, and genetic characterization of west African donkey breeds. Thirty-six percent of respondents have published more than ten peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters or books, 27 colleagues are members of professional scientific organizations, and 17 have received awards for their work, both in Burkina Faso and in other countries.

In response to a question about exciting or rewarding professional experiences, the examples of being awarded research grants from IFS and others, the association between field research with farmers and lab work, and getting articles published. Cited by several respondents as important factors contributing to career development were getting research funding, having training opportunities and collaborating with other scientists.

Examples of career challenges faced by respondents included the financing of education and research activities, and inadequate facilities. In terms of what would be most helpful to them in achieving their career goals, women respondents mentioned good understanding from their spouses, because in Africa women have less time to work and spend their lives at home, and also include policies that encourage women to keep academic positions of responsibility. When asked what they think needs to change so that women can play a more significant role in science and research, one suggested including women in the leadership of research components, people changing their mindsets towards women, and young girls being encouraged by special fellowships at national and international levels.

A common suggestion for how linkages can be strengthened among scientists, research institutions, grants-making organizations and funding sources was regularly organized conferences, forums and seminars where all these actors can show what is being done by scientists and discuss funding opportunities. Finally, with regards to perceptions of the role of science in national development, it was seen as essential, as expressed in the aspirational words of one respondent, “The main role of science in my country should be to develop human well-being”.

With thanks 

Nighisty Ghezae

Director

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