A young man tries to find the best signal for his radio Naniagara, a small village near Banfora in western Burkina Faso.
A gas station sells fuel by the bottle in rural Burkina Faso.
The hands of Kalizetta Kinda felt like sandstone, the dry cracked surface of rock that backed far too long under a grudging sun without a drop of rain. Yet Kalizetta was only ten years old when I met her. Her mother had brought her to the gold mine since she was four and over the years Kalizetta became a kind of „independent contractor“. She was scrabbling the earth for rocks with traces of gold, breaking them down to smaller and smaller pieces, washing out the sand, 8 to 10 hours per day, 6 to 7 days per week. When she was done for the day she and her friends waited in line to sell their yield to the mine, attentively watching every movement of the merchant and never leaving their eyes form the little crumbs of gold. The 80 cents she made on average per day made Kalizetta the main breadwinner in her family.
A few years ago gold succeeded cotton as Burkina Faso’s most important source of state revenue. The viability of the cotton sector in Burkina Faso and other West African countries is under pressure from the distortions in global cotton trade caused by high subsidies in the United States, the EU and China as well as the surge in low-cost output from Brazil. Without the subsidies African cotton has many advantages on the global market like high quality, low labour costs and small manageable plots. According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee the cost of producing a pound of cotton in Burkina Faso is 21 US cents compared to 73 cents in the Unites States. Due to the subsidies cotton revenue fell by 31 per cent between 1999 and 2002. At the 2003 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Cancún, Burkina Fasos President Compaoré noted that African producers are ready to face world competition, on the condition that it is not distorted by subsidies.“ Many independent Burkinabè farmers went bankrupt growing cotton and had to start seeking employment in the booming gold industry.