Former U of I Student Joins World Food Programme in Rome
Batamaka Somé, a Burkina Faso national, recently graduated from the Department of Anthropology of the U of I. Upon completion of his doctoral degree in 2010 he joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Agricultural Development Program Market Access team as a consultant for a year, providing advice on the sociocultural considerations and gender aspects of the foundation’s interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. He provided support and insight to the UNDP Multi-functional Platform Programme in West Africa and to the East Africa Coffee Initiative and traveled to some of the implementing countries (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Tanzania) to carry out fieldwork. At the Foundation Batamaka also developed the "Visit Protocol", a handbook that proposes culturally-relevant considerations that maximize efficiency of foundation officers’ interactions during their trip to Africa or South Asia.
After completing his assignment at the Gates Foundation, Batamaka relocated home to Burkina Faso, and contracted with Root Capital--a Massachusetts-based nonprofit social investment fund--to carry out a qualitative study on the impact of its financing on smallholder mango production in West Africa.
Batamaka recently joined the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, Italy, as a Gender and Agriculture Consultant. At WFP, he works in the Policy Planning and Strategy Division in the Purchase for Progress (P4P) Unit. The P4P is a pilot stage programme, which aims to tap into the World Food Programme procurement power to offer quality market access to smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Batamaka will be providing advice to the 21 pilot countries and assist focus countries in carrying out a gender value chain analysis, developing a country-specific gender strategy, and designing a gender action plan.
Batamaka has remained active in academic life. On invitation of the International Food Policy Research Institute, he traveled to Beijing, China in 2010, where he presented a paper at the Gender and Health Agricultural Biotechnology Workshop and interacted with smallholder farmers in China. He also contributed an entry, “Burkina Faso”, to the Encyclopedia of Global Religion, (2011),edited by Mark Juergensmeyer and Wade Clark Roof, and has a forthcoming article to appear in the journal Africa, entitled “‘Hot Money’: Gender and the Politics of Negotiation and Control over Income in West African Smallholder Households”.