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Towards the end of filming in autumn 2009 we heard of a shocking development in Yacouba’s story. The nearby city of Ouahigouya is embarking on a vast urban expansion scheme which threatens to engulf Yacouba’s farm.
The first question on many people’s mind after watching the film is; What is happening now?
It is a situation that is developing all the time, so here we aim to keep you up to date.
As stated in the film, the local government has allowed Yacouba to keep the forest, but at a cost. He will have to pay a prize for getting a title to the forest he created. The first cost estimate by the city of Ouahigouya is in the order of 100,000 euro, which is impossibly high for a plot of land of 25 ha. However, there still is a chance that he will be exempted from certain taxes, which now drive up the cost. This will be negotiated in the next few months.
Another problem is the agricultural land, and the buildings in which he and his extended family live. In a complex system of land ownership, Yacouba’s property has been divided into small plots for housing development and those plots have been attributed to others. Yacouba and his family, like all other families in the village of Gourga, were also attributed plots, but not the ones on which he now lives and where the grave of his father is. A solution still has to be found.
The parcels for construction of houses extend to the edge of his forest and one individual has now constructed a house with its back against the forest. The ideal solution would be to buy this house and use it as a training centre for visitors to the forest.
Upon return from Washington in October 2009, Yacouba doubled his efforts and began rehabilitating degraded land adjacent to his forest, which is outside the urban expansion scheme. This became imperative and he will lose the land he now cultivates. At the same time he developed economic activities in the forest, such as beekeeping and he began raising chickens in a newly constructed yard in the forest. It is likely that Yacouba will manage to ensure household food security.
Apologies for the wait. The production team and Chris Reij visited Yacouba in March 2011 to screen the film (look in the CLIPS section to see what happened). The land situation is pretty much the same as reported above. However in a very exciting development, Yacouba has been invited to speak at the next United Nations COP10 meeting in South Korea. http://english.unccdcop10.go.kr/sub/01_01.jsp
Environment ministers from all over the world will get to see the film and meet Yacouba. This will be an incredible opportunity to spread the ideas behind farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR).