Focus Sustainability

Our principles

Photo: omar ouedraogo
Photo: chris wawrzyniak
Photo: sibylle dahrendorf
Photo: omar ouedraogo

Social and ecological

It is important for us to create jobs on site in the Operndorf Afrika for the local general public and to support the domestic economy of Burkina Faso. We request your understanding for the fact that we do not award contracts to foreign partners, which can equivalently also be provisioned locally. In the same sense, we also do not accept any donations of products and materials, which can be ordered and purchased in the same form on site.

A main focus of the cooperation between the initiators of the project and the local general public is to reduce economic dependency. We therefore endeavour in the case of all our projects, to ensure a partnership approach and to involve the collaborators, so that they can continue the projects in an equivalent manner, even after our engagement. The basis for this is an actively practiced cooperation with the Government of Burkina Faso, which is to the same extent as the Festspielhaus Afrika gemeinnützige GmbH, obliged to provision its share of this project. This cooperation was contractually regulated by Christoph Schlingensief and the then Minister of Culture of Burkina Faso Philippe Sawadogo, already in 2010. In this sustainable and holistic sense, the school and the infirmary, unlike in many other aid projects, is under the aegis of the Government of Burkina Faso, which pays the salaries of the employees.

The project should over the long term be transferred under the aegis of the residents – which is an important constituent part of the cooperation agreement concluded with the State of Burkina Faso in 2010 and a process has already been initiated. Parts of the project are already under the aegis of the State of Burkina Faso, at the latest in 2030, the Festspielhaus Afrika gemeinnützige GmbH will entirely withdraw from the business operations and hand over the project to the State of Burkina Faso.

We see ourselves with social responsibility towards our employees in the Operndorf Afrika; therefore all of our employees have health insurance. Health insurance for employees is unfortunately due to the associated high operating costs still an exceptional phenomenon in Burkina Faso and not part of the standard employment relationship.

We strive to create structures on site, in all phases of the project, which facilitate initial and further training. We already during the design phase of the building in the Operndorf Afrika attached great importance to the dissemination of knowledge about the professional use of the materials and construction techniques to local workers. The Operndorf primary school has implemented since its opening in 2011, a Teach-the-Teacher program that guarantees the state-approved teachers of our school an art education further training.

In the infirmary, apart from the health training for the local general public, further training opportunities for the staff are also offered. These offers are made possible through our cooperation with international partners.

A main focus of our work is to strengthen women’s rights, beginning with the systematic enrolment of 50 percent of girls in the school in the Operndorf Afrika – against the national average of 20 percent. We also ensure an equal recruitment of women, in the selection of our staff.


In 2015, a powerful solar plant has been installed in the Operndorf Afrika, the cost is not as is usual in the western world, amortised over the feeding of surplus electricity into the local power grid. In Burkina Faso, no electricity can hitherto be fed and bought over the power grid. This means that we are compelled to feed the generated electricity that goes beyond our own requirements, into the power grid of Burkina Faso, free of charge. Nevertheless, we have due to our ecological responsibility, opted for this technology and hope to be part of a public debate on Green Energy in Burkina Faso.

In the context of ecological sustainability of the Operndorf Afrika, we endeavour to separate the garbage on site and to dispose of it, in a possible environmentally responsible manner. Recycling and separation of waste are in Burkina Faso still insufficiently developed concepts and systems. We nevertheless endeavour to live and demonstrate, a justifiable way of recycling. These include composting, the separation of plastic and residual waste and quite elementary, common cleaning up of the school with the children – because environmental awareness can only be addressed, insofar as the mindset for it has been set.

We have opted together with our architect Francis Kéré, for a sustainable form of construction. This means locally available raw materials such as clay, sand and stone are processed, primarily with the involvement of traditional construction methods.

The people on site can as such independently build the projects and also carry out the necessary subsequently repairs.

Through the multiple excellent ventilation technology from Francis Kéré, which aerates and cools the building in a natural manner, we entirely forego the deployment of power-consuming air conditioners and fans in the Operndorf Afrika.

Our buildings are thanks to the architecture from Francis Kéré of significantly higher quality, than the buildings in concrete construction, which are typical in the country – but they are however also more expensive. Our hitherto realised 23 buildings are as a consequence significantly more durable and provide for a room climate, in which one enjoys to stay, live and learn.

Sustainable approaches
in our concepts

The artistic concept of our Operndorf primary school seems to evolve into a role model: Since our school has repeatedly scored above average in the annual national comparison, the concept of the Operndorf School is being discussed, within the framework of a planned education reform. The school moreover also exhibits demonstrably less absenteeism and dropping out of school and is therefore able to generate more school-leaving qualifications, in a sustainable manner.

A main focus of the project work of the Operndorf is to provide for prevention work in the health sector, this means providing for trainings in dental hygiene, but also concomitantly for information sessions on family planning, birth preparation, diagnosis of diseases, nutrition and on relevant vaccinations. Preventing disease constitutes the main focus of our work and goes beyond the state subsidised and offered measures – we fund this work through your donations.

With our nutrition program established in the Operndorf Afrika primary school, in 2011, we endeavour to take active action against the malnutrition and under nourishment of the children of our primary school. The costs for the management of the canteen are borne by the Foundation Operndorf Afrika – because the Ministry of Education of Burkina Faso does not provide for this operating unit in its budget. This means that when we raise funds for the project in Germany, we are collecting for 300 lunch meals, which must be prepared daily – an important aspect for the welfare and improvement of the general health of our school children. However, it particularly constitutes a decisive factor for the parents to send their children to school in the first place – we are such do not only collect for lunch meals, but for the right of every child to education.

We currently have two projects in planning: a project for adult literacy and an agricultural program that will be developed in cooperation with the German Agro Action (DWHA). Both programs are scheduled to begin in the course of 2017.

Within the framework of adult education, it is important for us to be part of a large scale planned alphabetization of Burkina Faso – 80 percent of the general public in the region around the Operndorf Afrika are illiterate. The understanding of the importance of education and a willingness to send their children to school increases with the overall social literacy – we as such with these courses do not merely offer an opportunity to the adults – we in so doing also facilitate for the children, a right to education.

Within the framework of our ecological responsibility, it is also important for us to be active in the field of agriculture. The people are compelled to cope with drought, with soil erosion and flooding; they need strategies and methods for better crop yields and for the protection of their soils. We can jointly provide for a building block against famine and malnutrition.

The future for
the Operndorf Afrika

The Foundation Operndorf Afrika was launched, in 2012, with the goal of securing the project, in a sustainable manner and over the long-term. In order to support and supplement the work of the takeover of the project by the State of Burkina Faso, the Foundation Operndorf Afrika works on the preservation and the further elaboration of the objectives described herein and will as a foundation continue to be active in a supporting role, even after the complete handover of the project to the State of Burkina Faso.