Introduction / History
The Kalemse, also known as the Samoya, are a small group of approximately 22,000 speakers. They are principally found in Burkina Faso's northwest region, though there are some Kalemse villages in Mali. The region they live in is one of the country's driest, with less than 700 mm or 28 inches of rainfall per year. This amount is barely adequate for raising the group's staple crop, millet. To make matters worse, rainy seasons since the 1970s have been less and less reliable, resulting in very poor harvests in certain years.
As much as their means allow, the Kalemse raise livestock to help meet their needs. In other respects as well, life is difficult for the Kalemse. In the area of health care, they face many challenges - the lack of clinics in the region, malnutrition, impure water, and tropical diseases. In education, too, work is still to be done. There are only three primary schools serving the area, all having started in 1983. Very few Kalemse are able to attend junior school and high school.
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