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ico cibo internaburlab 1Makers4dev -  co-design and making strategies for agriculture: a pilot project in Burkina Faso



Burkina Faso,
Ouagadougou, Eastern Region,
Tapoa Province, Centre West Region, Boulkiemdé Province





April, 2016 - January, 2017



Digital innovation represents an opportunity and a challenge to overcome remaining obstacles and increase knowledge on sustainable development. Agriculture is the main sector where digital and technological innovation is adopted in Africa, where the most common barriers can be torn down with tools which represent opportunities for development.
While agriculture employs 86% of Burkina Faso's workforce and contributes to 40% of the GDP and to 60% of the country's exports, strong obstacles to its development are still in place:

  • Inefficiencies in harvesting the agricultural production
  • Lack of price transparency
  • Foreign products competition
  • Presence of intermediaries who significantly reduce farmers' income


What are FabLabs?
FabLabs, short for fabrication laboratories, are labs that incorporate elements of a production workshop, a research centre and of an artisan workshop. The term was coined in 2003 by Neil Gershenfeld, professor of physics at MIT Boston, who defined it as a place where it is possible to manufacture every sort of object, from a computer to a water pump, from a flashlight to a bicycle.
Each FabLab is part of two communities: the local community of users and the global community of FabLabs worldwide, in connection and cooperation with each other. As of today, FabFoundation has counted 540 of them.



  • General objective: to contribute to food sovereignty in Burkina Faso through technology and digital fabrication.
  • Specific objective: to test a model of technology transfer with the aim of sustaining food safety and sovereignty in Burkina Faso.




The project's activities can be summed up in 5 stages of intervention:

  • A co-design process with farmers and makers to identify problems, trainings and specific actions.
  • Exchange and practical training in Burkina Faso which will take place through an expedition of Italian makers in Burkina. The cooperation among actors will allow identifying the needs of rural areas and possible sustainable/affordable solutions.
  • Continuous remote support. After the mission, Ouagalab will autonomously put into practice the ideas conceived during the mission. Wemake and Officine Arduino/FabLab-To will remotely support the process of creation and prototyping; ACRA will coordinate the different actors and will support the process of Ouagalab, will serve as a liaison and will support the beneficiaries.
  • Residential training in Italy. Two leaders of Ouagalab will take part in a residential training in Italy: a week at Wemake (Milan) and a week at Officine Aduino/FarLab (Turin) in order to perfect the training process. The prototypes will be tested in the chosen territories.
  • Final presentation of best practices. The results and the adopted methodology will be presented at public events in Ouagadougou and in Italy (Milan, Turin).




Direct beneficiaries: 10 rice farmers in Boulkiemdé (UNPR-B) and 10 beekeepers in Tapoa (UPAT), 12 young computer scientists in Ouagalab.

Indirect beneficiaries: about 2.000 people, including makers who cooperate in African development projects and burkinabé farmers.



Il The project aims at finding technological solutions to respond to critical issues of the two production chains (rice and honey). ACRA works in the context of these two production chains also trough two other projects in Burkina Faso (Partnership for a sustainable rural development and Women and rural development). By offering innovative solutions through a process of Design Thinking, the project helps make ACRA's interventions in Burkina Faso interconnected and sustainable in time.



Total value:
80,690 €

Principal founder:



san paolo


  • Officine Arduino /Fablab (Turin): the Italian hub of Arduino and Genuino is the main supporter of FabLab Torino and has been promoting open source and maker culture in Italy since 2011.
  • WeMake (Milano): Milan’s makerspace since 2014, it’s where various technologies for creation and prototyping can be found, accessible to everyone; it's included in the FabLab international network.
  • Ouagalab (Ouagadougou): it's the first FabLab in western Africa, created in 2011 in Ouagadougou and made up of 12 young burkinabé.


Other organizations involved in Burkina Faso:

  • UPAT (Provincial Union of Beekeepers of the Province of Tapoa)
  • UNPR-B (National Union of Rice producers in Burkina Faso)





Beyond the project

>>> Design thinking: see the pictures!