Unwrap Opportunity with Clarisse Nikiema

Dec 19, 2023 | Uncategorized

Clarisse Nikiema, and her husband Barthelemy, are subsistence farmers with six children living in the Komsnedego community of Burkina Faso.  For generations, standard rain-fed farming sufficed for their economic needs.. However, over the past 15 years, unreliable rains, shifting seasons, and increased use of chemical fertilizers have lessened harvests, degraded soil quality, and reduced incomes.  Life became especially stressful because Clarisse and Barthelemy struggled to come up with the school fees necessary to send their kids to school and keep enough food on the table.


Veronica Zulu, center with sweater, listens in one of her classes.

Clarisse with her husband, Barthelemy, and 3 of her sons

When The Sonder Project drilled a well in Komsnedego in 2018, we realized the compelling need for improvement in the community’s agriculture prospects to support both economic development and education. A plan was made to support the local farmers with a solar-irrigated, community farm resilient to the unreliable climate. Clarisse suddenly could see a light at the end of the tunnel, and volunteered to support the farm on Day 1, even being nominated as the farm’s secretary.


Veronica Zulu sits on her hostel bed she sleeps on while at school.

Clarisse with Weilfried, Sonder Project Agriculture Field Coordinator, and another farm member

With the changes brought to the farm in the past year including a new water catchment system, and the distribution of individualized plots, Clarisse has seen the greatest economic impact of the farm yet. In one season, Clarisse made 7x what she used to make in a month, and now she can have up to 3 strong planting seasons a year instead of 1 or 2 uncertain ones.  She has expanded to cultivating diversified crops like eggplants, and she is able to bring home vegetables to feed her family and save on expenses.


Veronica with her hand raised, ready to ask one of her teacher's questions.

Clarisse harvesting crops on her individual plot on the community farm

As Clarisse’s income and influence on the farm grows, so does her optimism. She coaches and mentors other women on the farm using her own story as an example.  “I always encourage other women to persevere,” Clarisse tells us, “because it pays off.  See for yourself how much money I have made in such a short time.  I did not think it was possible.”  Now, looking ahead, she tells us, “In the next 5 years, I will have saved a lot of money and I’m sure my life will be totally different.”
Veronica Zulu sits with a group of friends along with two of The Sonder Project staff members in Malawi during a break period.

Clarisse with other women in her community

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