Design For Peace

Design For Peace

Burkina Faso

The Design for Peace project, led by Afrika Tiss and supported by UNHCR, provides income to Malian artisans living as refugees in Burkina Faso. UNHCR provides local artisans and refugees an opportunity to collaborate with Parisian designers and through this program, 200 refugee artisans can learn, design, share and experiment with techniques to develop a collection, inspired by their world and stories.

The traditional leatherworkers and ironsmiths have preserved the trade and artistry of their handwork over generations. The trades have been passed down through generations in the Touareg people of Mali where refugee women of a low caste are involved in the raw material production of leather and metalwork. UNHCR built a tannery in the camp of Goudebou where artisans can be trained to tan the leather with traditional chrome-free methods. Instead, they use a mixture of water, lime, ash, shea butter and ammonium sulfate to tan the hide, and protect it with traditional wax. Using the leather is socially and economically important, as it allows no waste of any parts of the animal. The blacksmiths also hammer, fill and polish the bronze, copper and aluminum by hand to create beautiful one-of- a-kind pieces.

The collaboration aims to employ and train artisan, allowing them to be self-reliant, build workshops and secure entry to international markets.



Artisan Voices

“When I left Mali, the only personal belongings I brought with me were my practical knowledge and my hands. I want to make the most of this luggage: I want to ensure I can pay for my children to continue to go to school until they can get decent jobs. I want them to enjoy a safer life than mine.”
— Bintou Mohamed