Desertification and land degradation are not new to the fragile Sahel ecosystem, a semi-arid strip of land south of the Sahara Desert. Climate change, which is expected to deeply modify the region’s climate, including by abruptly increasing rainfall, adds another layer of complexity to the daily lives of the people living in the Sahel.
Environmentally-friendly economic growth is one strategy for overcoming these challenges, and local entrepreneurs are increasingly looking towards sustainable industries to improve their livelihoods.
Shea butter, locally known as karité, is a key ingredient in many moisturizing creams. It is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree which grows indigenously in the Sahel and is a primary source of employment and income for millions of people, especially women. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that, on average, three million African women benefit directly or indirectly from shea butter production.
Burkina Faso is one of the top shea nut-producing countries, and export of shea products represents a major source of revenue.
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