A project set up by a co-operative in Burkina Faso sees women recycling waste and turning it into useful products.
Gafreh – Groupe d’Action des Femmes pour le Relance Économique du Houet (Women’s Action Group for the Economic Revival of Houet) is a co-operative which aims to improve conditions for women in the area. Taking place on the streets of Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso’s second city), plastic bags are collected and recycled.
So far, the bags have been turned into bags, baskets, mobile phone covers, key rings and dolls. The project was inspired by Haoua Ibouldo, now the treasurer of Gafreh, after she witnessed the damage caused by discarded plastic bags on the streets of the city.
Bags left on the ground can choke animals, and the plastic rotting into the soil can lead to the contamination of water and transmission of diseases. Through the recycling project, bags are collected, washed, disinfected, dried and cut into strips. Members of the co-op then turn the strips into products at a weaving centre opened by Gafreh in 2003.
The co-op employs 85 women from humble backgrounds and gives training in recycling and craft skills.
A statement on Gafreh’s website says: “The selection of the people who work in this centre is not left to chance. The direct beneficiaries of the recycling project are poor women and young girls who come from different parts of Bobo Dioulasso.”
Previous projects run by Gafreh include a training centre running literacy programmes for women. Since being established in 2011, 1,170 women have taken part. This project has particular importance in Burkina Faso, a country where 87% of women are illiterate.