Hunger in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, struggles with conflict-induced household displacement. This poses significant challenges to crop production and harvests, resulting in issues of hunger in Burkina Faso. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that in 2022, more than 90% of the surveyed households were involved in crop production. According to the same report, many of the surveyed households experienced several conflict-related challenges.


In 2022, the FAO conducted the DIEM (Data in Emergencies Monitoring) assessment, surveying more than 5,000 households throughout Burkina Faso. The survey asked households whether they had experienced any of several shocks as early as three months prior to August 2022. Among the surveyed households, 70% reported experiencing one or more shocks in that timeframe. Sickness or death of a household member accounted for 46% of the reported shocks, while higher food prices accounted for 31%. In the Sahel region, 55% of those surveyed reported an increase in food prices.

On top of the widespread increase in food prices, 50% of households throughout the country reported experiencing a decrease in primary income. Apart from increasing food prices, up to 81% of respondents in the Sahel region reported experiencing a decrease in primary income.

Inflation Crises

The FAO reports that Burkina Faso’s inflation rate reached as high as 18% between July and August 2022, further contributing to the hunger problem. Repeated instances of conflict in the Sahel and Centre-North regions have led to significant population displacement in those areas. Among the survey respondents, more than 70% reported crop production difficulties. Nearly 40% of crop producers reported insufficient access to irrigated water, and 59% reported insufficient access to fertilizers. Of the households that participated in the FAO survey, 96% reported a need for food production assistance in the following six months. Among them, more than 60% reported needing food assistance.

Reports from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) suggest that around 40% of Burkina Faso’s population lives below the poverty line, and up to 20% of the population is classified as food insecure.

Actions Toward Change

There are ongoing efforts aimed at decreasing hunger in Burkina Faso and alleviating its short-term and long-term effects. The Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with other humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are working hard to combat these issues. At the annual meeting of the Network for the Prevention of Food Crisis in West Africa, the UNICEF, FAO and WFP issued a joint statement calling on other governments to increase their investments in support of Burkina Faso and other struggling neighboring countries by strengthening their food security and nutrition programs.

The FAO has reached more than 600,000 people in Burkina Faso, assisting them with food production. Additionally, the FAO provides cash-based transfers and complementary services to more than 400,000 people.

In 2021, USAID provided almost $12 million in funding to support agricultural production, food security and vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso. The organization also helps farmers by increasing their access to water for agricultural purposes and mitigating the effects of climate-related shocks on their livelihoods.

Looking Ahead

Several organizations are working tirelessly to combat the rising levels of hunger in Burkina Faso despite the challenges posed by rising inflation rates, intense conflict in the northern regions, decreasing primary income and insufficient livelihood protection. One of the main goals is to ensure that more citizens can get access to food.

– Christopher Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a landlocked West African country with an estimated population of 22 million people as of 2021. The country identifies as a hotspot for human trafficking but the government and organizations are taking action to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in Burkina Faso.

Leading Causes and Issues

The U.S. Department of State classifies Burkina Faso as a Tier 2 nation in its 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report. This indicates that despite not yet entirely meeting the requirements for eradicating trafficking, the Burkinabe government is putting much effort into doing so. However, the government is struggling in certain areas, such as providing services to trafficking victims and holding offenders accountable.

Social issues such as poverty, gender inequality and a lack of education contribute to the prevalence of human trafficking in Burkina Faso. In addition, Burkina Faso has a large population of vulnerable people, with more than 40% living below the poverty line. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary work, while children are targeted for forced labor in industries such as mining and agriculture.

In its 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report, the U.S. Department of State says that “an international organization estimates between 200,000 to 300,000 children work in artisanal mining sites, some of whom may be trafficking victims. Traffickers exploit girls in sex trafficking in Ouagadougou and in mining towns.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated poverty and heightened economic desperation, increasing the risk of people falling for the lures of traffickers. In addition, school closures exposed out-of-class children to higher risks of exploitation.

Anti-Trafficking Measures

According to the 2022 report, Burkina Faso’s government has implemented some alleviatory measures against human trafficking. For instance, “establishing child protection units in law enforcement offices throughout the country, identifying potential trafficking victims and continuing its program with Quranic teachers to prevent child forced begging.” Burkina Faso’s government also partnered with international groups and foreign donors to introduce a “humanitarian response plan to assist vulnerable people in conflict-affected areas, including potential trafficking victims.”

The government also strengthened law enforcement and judicial capacities, with Articles 511-1 to 511-5 of the penal code criminalizing sex trafficking and labor trafficking. The penalties included up to 10 years of jail time and up to 5 million West African CFA francs (FCFA) ($8,790) for offenses on victims older than 15 years. A fine of up to 10 million FCFA is applicable for offenses involving victims 15 and younger.

Terre des Hommes

In 2002, Terre des Hommes, an international children’s rights organization, committed efforts toward fighting human trafficking in Burkina Faso in relation to child trafficking and labor exploitation. At the core, the organization strives to safeguard children from exploitation and maltreatment. The organization works with the local communities in Burkina Faso to spread awareness about human trafficking risks and share tips on how to prevent the recruitment of children. The charity also offers shelter and medical care to victims of trafficking.

According to the 2020 Terre des Hommes International Federation’s annual report, the organization’s African programs successfully supported 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso. These programs reached more than 3.5 million children and other community members, including those at risk of trafficking and exploitation.

Burkina Faso received support in the following programs: mother and child health, migration, access to justice humanitarian aid and transversal protection. The support included providing access to education, health care and protection services alongside raising awareness about children’s rights and trafficking-related issues. These efforts reached more than 1.9 million beneficiaries.

The Bright Side

Although human trafficking remains a major issue in Burkina Faso, a number of human rights groups and programs continue working to bring it to an end. The Burkinabe government and organizations like Terre des Hommes aim to further the progress in the fight against human trafficking and safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable people.

– Lorraine Lin
Photo: Pixabay

Charities Operating in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a country located in West Africa. Its name translates to “the land of the incorruptible people.”It has a population of 21.5 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the world, with more than 40% of its people living below the poverty line. Despite the vast amount of humanitarian work conducted throughout the country addressing changing weather patterns and sustainability, Burkina Faso is still vulnerable to frequent natural disasters, including droughts, floods and diseases. Charities including Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, CECI, Humanity & Inclusion and Caritas work tirelessly to help alleviate poverty throughout Burkina Faso through education, provision of clean water and sanitation along with human development and the survival of children. Here is some information about the above five charities operating in Burkina Faso.

Poverty Situation in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, as mentioned before, remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with 40% of people living below the poverty line. According to the Human Development Index report that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) carried out in 2021-2022, Burkina Faso ranks 184th out of 191 countries. In the last few years, poverty in Burkina Faso has correlated with consistent political instability and violence the country continues to face with many people being displaced. With heavy reliance on agriculture as its primary source of economic development, Burkina Faso has suffered due to low agricultural output by 4.1%. With violence and political unrest, more than 900,000 people are internally displaced and remain in extreme poverty. This mostly affects children, with more than half of the 2.2 million people in Burkina Faso seeking humanitarian assistance being children. 

Save the Children

One of the five charities operating in Burkina Faso is Save the Children, which began working in Burkina Faso in 1982. With children at the forefront of the organization’s focus, Save the Children works tirelessly to ensure security in their lives. Save the Children has become one of the biggest charitable organizations in Burkina Faso through its programs dedicated to education, safety and child health. Some of the work the organization has carried out revolves around multiple aspects of quality of life. It includes greater access to universal health care, resources and tools for treating malnutrition in children, food programs to combat insecurity and malnutrition and financial discipline teachings to help families support themselves and maintain quality health care. 

SOS Children’s Villages

The organization came to Burkina Faso during the 1990s and established itself in 1997 north of the nation’s capital; since 2004, SOS Children’s Villages has taken the initiative of operating SOS Family Strengthening Programs that ensure that children can grow and live in an environment of familiarity in the case that the child loses its family. One of SOS Children’s Villages operates in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso with a population of 1.5 million people. SOS Children’s Villages’ work in Ouagadougou, specifically the SOS Social Center revolves around its mission to ensure that children have access to health care, education and social services through family strengthening programs. SOS Children’s Villages is among the five charities operating in Burkina Faso that help families and children find social security while providing access to the very necessities required to survive.

Humanity & Inclusion

Burkina Faso became the first country where the organization began its work in 1991, focusing on “defending the rights of people with disabilities and responding to the urgent needs of the people affected by conflict.” Humanity & Inclusion’s work in Burkina Faso spans multiple facets, including physical rehabilitation, maternal and child health, inclusive education, disaster risk reduction and mental health and psychosocial support, along with road safety and protection. Humanity & Inclusion is one of the five charities in Burkina Faso that works tirelessly to address poverty in Burkina Faso by focusing on development, health and rehabilitation. The organization’s 187 members undertook 12 projects within the country, with 50% working on humanitarian efforts and 25% on chronic crises and 25% on development needs in 2021. 


The organization emerged in 1956 and began operations in Burkina Faso in 1998. Caritas’ presence covers the entire country of Burkina Faso through its “15 diocesan offices and more than 200 Caritas parish branches.” By utilizing the branches, Caritas “aims to promote mainly community and integral human development, social justice, peace and human rights.” Caritas Burkina offers programs that align with its goals of alleviating poverty by solely focusing its work on women and families along with younger individuals through humanitarian development that fosters solidarity and sharing of resources to help facilitate expansion.

The Barka Foundation

The Barka Foundation is an organization that began in 2006 and is based in the United States. It began its work in Burkina Faso in 2009. The Barka Foundation is a younger charity compared to other charities discussed. Still, regardless of longevity, the Barka Foundation is among the five charities that operate in Burkina Faso. The organization focuses its work from a perspective of longevity and community-driven programs involving accessibility to clean water, agriculture improvement, women’s empowerment and human rights and minimizing the effects of changing weather patterns. The Barka Foundation sets itself apart from other organizations working in Burkina Faso by ensuring that its mission to alleviate and combat poverty does not obstruct the lives of the indigenous people, thereby mitigating western influence and developing relationships with them to help provide them with basic survival needs.

Looking Ahead

All the charities mentioned above work tirelessly to address poverty in Burkina Faso. Each charity offers and provides unique programs and initiatives to help the people of Burkina Faso access necessities such as health care, rehabilitation and social and economic security, along with tools to combat the effects of changing weather patterns and, most notably education and security for children affected.

Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr

Diseases Impacting Burkina Faso
The World Bank has reported that more than 40% of the people in Burkina Faso live in poverty. In general, developed countries have longer life expectancy rates as these nations have higher standards of living, better access to health care and other resources that influence health. Statistics from 2018 place the life expectancy in Burkina Faso at 60 years. According to data from 2019, the top three diseases impacting Burkina Faso are malaria, lower respiratory infections and neonatal disorders. Malnutrition, air pollution and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities made up the top three risk factors that influenced both death and disability in Burkina Faso in 2019.

Top 3 Diseases Impacting Burkina Faso

  1. Malaria. Malaria, transmitted through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito, is endemic in Burkina Faso — the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Burkina Faso had 12.4 million malaria cases and more than 29,100 malaria-related deaths in 2020 alone. In 2018, according to the Ministry of Health, malaria caused 66% of deaths among children under 5. Burkina Faso forms part of the 10 sub-Saharan African countries with the highest burdens of malaria, the WHO reports.
  2. Lower respiratory infections. These types of infections include pneumonia, bronchitis and tuberculosis. Air pollution, common in developing countries, can contribute to lower respiratory infections and overcrowded environments allow for these diseases to spread faster. Specifically, in 2020, the World Bank reported 46 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people in Burkina Faso, down from 70 in 2000.
  3. Neonatal disorders. According to the WHO, most neonatal mortalities occur in developing countries. Furthermore, “neonatal infections are primarily bacterial in origin and include pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis.” UNICEF data indicates that the neonatal mortality rate in Burkina Faso in 2020 stood at 26 deaths per 1,000 live births while the infant mortality rate stood at 53.

Other Diseases Impacting Burkina Faso

Another disease impacting Burkina Faso is HIV/AIDS. In 2021, UNAIDS notes 88,000 HIV infections among adults and children in Burkina Faso. In particular, UNAIDS noted 6,100 HIV cases among children between the ages of 0 and 14. Particular groups are most at risk. In 2017, sex workers had an HIV prevalence rate of 5.4% while the prevalence rate for prisoners stood at 2.2% and 1.9% for men who have sex with men.

Initiatives to Reduce the Impact of Diseases in the Country

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Health since as early as 1991. Initially, the CDC provided support to address polio outbreaks across the nation. The CDC then expanded its efforts to cover other diseases preventable through immunization, such as measles and meningitis. The CDC set up an office in Burkina Faso in 2016, “focused on strengthening the country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats and to strengthen the country’s capacity in surveillance, laboratory systems, workforce development and emergency management,” a CDC factsheet says.

All in all, the CDC has given 17 million doses of polio vaccines and 2.4 million doses of measles vaccines to children under 5 in Burkina Faso. The CDC has also provided support to immunize more than 12 million Burkinabe people against meningitis. “National diagnostic capacity” across laboratories now allows lab technicians to test for a minimum of 40 pathogens., including “10 priority pathogens.” These priority pathogens include influenza, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV.

The fight against diseases impacting Burkina Faso is one of the country’s priorities. The country has made progress in terms of health, but, continued aid is necessary to further strengthen the healthcare system and implement preventative disease control measures.

– Elena Luisetto
Photo: Flickr

Instability in Burkina Faso
After the Burkina Faso September military coup, United States President Joe Biden cut Burkina Faso from The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The political instability in Burkina Faso that prompted the AGOA removal designates Burkina Faso as a blacklisted, non-democratic nation. The recent political instability in Burkina Faso led to the loss of U.S. trade, economic aid and military support.

AGOA is U.S. legislation approved in May 2000, to support sub-Saharan African economies and improve economic relations between those countries and the U.S. The AGOA provides sub-Saharan African nations with U.S. duty-free access to more than 1,800 products. That allowance is beyond the more than 5,000 duty-free products under the Generalized System of Preferences program.

Background of Political Instability

Political instability and limitations in both trade and humanitarian aid are not new issues in Burkina Faso. In fact, the September coup was the second one in 2021. Army captain Ibrahim Traore seized power from military leader President Paul-Henri  Damiba in September, citing “his inability to deal with an armed uprising in the country that has worsened in the past nine months.” However, Burkina Faso was already experiencing effects from the first coup, in which Damiba orchestrated an uprising against President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in January. At that time, the U.S. paused a $450 million aid effort.

The political instability in Burkina Faso could exacerbate already desperate conditions. During seven years of radicalized military terror with connections to ISIL and al-Qaeda, the hunger crisis intensified. In fact, the United Nations has even reported that “the humanitarian situation in Burkina Faso has become so dire that some women and children have eaten only leaves and salt for weeks.” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martha Griffiths claimed that “Growing insecurity and blockades in many areas have left communities cut off from the rest of the country and facing growing hunger. Aid workers are struggling to reach these people who need assistance.”

Economic and Military Impact of Political Instability in Burkina Faso

The removal of Burkina Faso from the AGOA is particularly relevant for those concerned with U.S. legislative foreign aid decisions because legally if the U.S. State Department determines a democratically-elected government experienced an unconstitutional removal, the U.S. must suspend all non-humanitarian aid. Importantly, the U.S. is Burkina Faso’s largest international donor.

Burkina Faso also lost access to the markets of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) markets. ECOWAS is the trade union of West African states and it strongly condemned the coup and pushed for elections as quickly as possible.  It claimed that Burkina Faso was close to restoring constitutional order so the coup was incredibly “inopportune.” Journalist Sam Mednick  claimed, “If Traore is not going to be able to show tangible progress quickly, people say he’s going to be ousted just like his predecessor.”

Militarily, the U.S. also provides surveillance, intelligence, air support to the French who intervened against militants in the Sahel. The U.S. also provides intermittent training to Burkina Faso’s security forces. Elizabeth Shackelford, a senior foreign policy fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggested that because military support has not proved productive, the U.S. and its partners should put funding and effort into supporting democracy-fostering institutions.


Luckily, the European Union (EU) is still earmarking funds for aid in Burkina Faso. Specifically, the EU has set aside 52.4 million euros to address food insecurity, malnutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and disaster preparedness. International non-governmental organizations will also still be able to provide aid. For example, Save the Children focus on Burkina Faso education, public health and protection. Specifically, for public health, Save the Children advocates for “universal access to health care and an increase in the health budget.” In regard to nutrition, it supports food assistance programs. For malnutrition, it provides screening and long-term care for affected children and families.

Outlook for the Future

Political instability in Burkina Faso is jeopardizing specialized aid to fight jihadism. Burkina Faso’s recent unconstitutional coups resulted in the cessation of all non-humanitarian aid in compliance with U.S. law.  Fortunately, the EU and international non-governmental organizations continue their support for Burkina Faso’s citizens plagued by political instability and its effects. Hunger, education and public health are often the primary focuses of many of these organizations, and if these programs remain operational, perhaps Burkina Faso can persevere until the political instability subsides.

– Braden Hampton
Photo: Flickr

A Shrinking Workforce in Burkina Faso
A shrinking workforce in Burkina Faso has implications far and wide for the economic and social state of the country. Political instability and limited natural resources have exacerbated the country’s poor financial state. Following a coup d’état in January 2022, Burkina Faso ended up in political chaos once again. Though the country has many transitional bodies which seek to aid the transition, the instability and harsh economic conditions make progress slow and difficult. A shrinking workforce in Burkina Faso makes progress forward difficult while economic and social progress itself makes tackling the high unemployment rate challenging.

The main issue is the downward trend in employment. The labor force participation rate has been steadily declining since the 1990s, meaning that the progress of the last three decades has been lost. Technological progress particularly has been slow and costly and the country lags behind its African and global competitors.

The Workforce

Primarily, the country’s workforce struggles to keep up with its growing population. Current estimates show that the population is growing at a rate of over 3%, yet more than 40% of the population lives in poverty. Seven out of 10 people are under the age of 30, but the working age population is weak and underdeveloped. In 2005, approximately 89.1% of the working-age population had employment. However, in 2018, the World Bank reported that only nearly 45% of the working-age population in Burkina Faso was participating in the labor force in 2018. Certainly, the problem is not as simple as it seems.

The country faces problems as the underdeveloped workforce and infrastructure struggle to cope with the growing population. Sectors such as health care have borne the brunt of the lack of resources. Government expenditure on health care in Burkina Faso has nearly disappeared. Even before the lack of investment in health care, there were not enough health care workers to support the system and the needs of the people. Children and infants experienced significant hardship as a result of this.

Children have suffered differently. The Department of Labor reported that nearly half of all children in Burkina Faso work as of 2012. Though unemployment is high, child labor is cheap and exploitable, so children comprise a significant portion of the workforce in the country. Activists have the daunting task of reorienting a shrinking workforce in Burkina Faso so that fewer children and more adults enter the workforce.

Economic Rebound

One positive sign is that Burkina Faso’s post-COVID-19 economic rebound has been successful. The country grew an estimated 8.5% in 2021. Though the 2022 coup caused some to question the financial stability and prospects of the country, a high growth rate, to 6.5% in 2021, shows that Burkina Faso is resilient. Many believe that an investment in gold mining and related infrastructure is the way forward for Burkina Faso. Gold is Burkina Faso’s top export to the United States. Some believe that gold will be lucrative in the future and will be able to support a growing workforce. However, the reliance on gold will be challenging, as those in Burkina Faso will need to be stringent and careful about the labor requirements and fulfillments that it will need to strengthen its workforce.

Looking Ahead

The country is eligible for what is known as “preferential trade benefits” under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which means that global partners recognize the need to invest in and prioritize the country. Ultimately, strong and positive growth is possible on the trend that Burkina Faso is on at the moment. Progress will need to be cautious and prudent, but many are hopeful that a stronger workforce and therefore a stronger country is possible.

Lara Drinan
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Sahel’s Rising Food Insecurity
The Sahel is a semi-arid region in Africa that comprises countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental disasters and the high cost of food as a result of the Ukraine-Russia war have contributed to the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty. On May 20, 2022, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that, over the following three months, 18 million people living in the Sahel region will be “on the edge of severe hunger.” This warning prompted a strong international response from wealthier countries to provide financial and food aid to the Sahel region.

African heads of state convened a regional summit on May 27, 2022, “to address growing humanitarian needs on the continent.” The heads identified violent extremism, military coups and environmental challenges as the main contributors to the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty. Non-African countries, such as the United States, are also addressing the Sahel crisis by providing food aid through government-run development programs in the Sahel. The U.N. and its agencies are also tackling rising poverty in the Sahel through financial assistance and food delivery.

Specific Issues for People Living in the Sahel Region

The Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty have led to devastating human costs such as “high levels of acute malnutrition” and “large gaps” in food consumption within households. Furthermore, because the cost of living has increased dramatically, families in the Sahel are now selling their own household items, such as farm tools, in order to afford food and other essential items. As a result of the rising food costs, environmental disasters and violence, the number of Africans pushed into food poverty in the Sahel is increasing. For example, in the Sahel, 1.8 million children suffer malnourishment. Without intervention, this could increase to 2.4 million by the close of 2022.

Regional Solutions to Addressing Sahel’s Food Insecurity and Poverty

The African Union (AU) has declared 2022 the AU’s Year of Nutrition and held the “Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference” on May 27, 2022. The main goal of the summit is to address malnutrition in the African region, which “causes significant long-term consequences for physical, mental, cognitive and physiological development.” UNICEF has been urging African governments to tackle a wide range of issues, such as “inadequate maternal nutrition” and “high incidence of childhood illnesses.”

How Wealthier Countries are Tackling Sahel’s Poverty Crisis

On May 18, 2022, the United States announced that it will allocate $215 million to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to tackle food insecurity globally. This includes tackling the Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty, with food assistance going to countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Nigeria. USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will “program the full balance” of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, a grain and food reserve within USAID, “as part of an effort to provide $670 million in food assistance” to the Sahel countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and South Sudan.

Assistance from International Organizations and UN Agencies

The U.N. is approaching Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty as an international emergency situation. On May 20, 2022, OCHA delivered $30 million in emergency funds to four countries in the Sahel to address malnutrition and hunger. OCHA gave Burkina Faso $6 million and Chad, Mali and Niger received $8 million each. Prior to this recent contribution, OCHA had delivered $4 million to Mauritania and $15 million to Nigeria earlier in 2022.

The swift international response to Sahel’s rising food insecurity and poverty illustrates the potential of the international community to eliminate global poverty. Despite the massive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia war on providing humanitarian assistance, the U.N. has managed to allocate enough funds to combat starvation in the Sahel. The United States has increased its funding for global food security operations in the Sahel and made the situation one of its top foreign policy priorities. All of this proves that the international community continues to act on food insecurity and poverty, even in the most vulnerable places in the world. This makes global poverty reduction a reachable goal, creating hope for disadvantaged countries.

– Abdullah Dowaihy
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a former French colony in the Sahel region of Africa. Burkina Faso has an estimated population of 21 million people. The country shares borders with five francophone-speaking countries — Mali to the northwest, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, Ivory Coast to the southwest and Togo to the south. Here is some information about the impact of COVID-19 on Burkina Faso.

About the Situation in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is an agrarian society. In fact, more than 80% of the nation’s households depend on income from agricultural products. Cotton is one of the major exports and sources of revenue for the country. The country is endowed with natural resources including gold, limestone, marble and salt. Burkina Faso’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.9% from $16 billion in 2019 to $17.9 billion in 2020.

Burkina Faso has experienced political unrest in the past decades. The incessant regime changes among government officials have led to leadership crises that have contributed significantly to the poor economic and security challenges that Burkinabe people experience. Regional alliances of the Economic Community of West Africa States and the African Union suspended the country due to political instability. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened living conditions in Burkina Faso, severely affecting the nearly 40% who live below the poverty line. Inflation has risen by 3.2% in 2020, which has driven up food prices.

COVID-19 Cases

In 2020, due to rising cases of COVID-19, Burkina Faso closed its air, land and sea borders to control the spread of infection. Border closure restrictions occurred in response to the country’s weak health infrastructure and resources stretched thin and overwhelmed by the pandemic. While the interventions showed efficacy in limiting the spread of coronavirus, the social and economic impact of restrictions takes a toll on Burkina Faso. By February 22, 2022, Burkina Faso noted more than 20,751 confirmed cases and 375 deaths and the nation administered more than 2.3 million vaccines.

Rising Unemployment

At the height of the pandemic, some of the lockdown restrictions, among which were the closure of markets, schools, tourist centers and other places of economic activity in the country, were effective against COVID-19’s spread but negatively impacted the workforce. The restrictions affected production, resulting in loss of employment, supply shocks and a decrease in economic growth.

International border closures and supply chain disruption led to a sharp decrease in economic activity for the country as Burkina Faso could not export most of its products. These factors significantly affected trade in Burkina Faso, leading to shocks in household income and plunging families into poverty.

Diaspora Earnings

The country is among the top four countries that depend heavily on diaspora earnings. The effect of COVID-19 globally has affected foreign remittances from abroad to families back home. Burkina Faso’s earnings have reduced by 10% and these have affected vulnerable households whose mainstay income depends on these remittances. These diaspora remittances have become insufficient due to rising food prices from a 3.2% increase in inflation.

 Food Insecurity

The combined impact of the pandemic, coupled with security unrest, has resulted in more than 1.4 million Burkinabe citizens facing internal displacement. Civil unrest and the climatic drought challenges the country faces worsen food insecurity. The humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by COVID-19, has reached alarming levels. Estimates from the World Food Programme (WFP) determine that about 2.1 million people are in need of food in Burkina Faso.

Alleviating the Impact of COVID-19 on Burkina Faso

The global impact of the pandemic has been far-reaching. The WFP has continued to play a leading role in fighting global hunger. The organization deployed resources to mitigate some of the challenges in Burkina Faso by providing school feeding programs to support the education of children. Internally displaced Burkinabe receive support with a monthly food ratio, equivalent to $8 per person. About 700,000 of the population have benefited from the food and cash assistance program of the WFP, but more resources are necessary to abate hunger and poverty and stabilize conflict in the region.

Sylvia Eimieho
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a small country located in West Africa and is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Accordingly, it also has one of the weakest healthcare systems in place for women and children. Approximately 10% of all children born in Burkina Faso die before the age of 5 and more than 300 women out of 100,000 live births die during pregnancy or labor. Burkina Faso is also among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Female Genital Mutilation in Burkina Faso

According to UNICEF, in 2010 it was found that 76% of Burkinese women have undergone female genital mutilation. However, the prevalence of FGM in Burkina Faso has significantly declined during the past two decades. In 1999, 83.6% of women had undergone cutting. This rate dropped to 76.1% in 2010. The decline has much to do with the country’s ban on female genital mutilation, passed in 1996 and further criminalized in 2018 with additional prison sentences and fines.

Since the ban, a declining trend in the prevalence of FGM has taken place among women of lower age groups. Older generations are now less likely to pass down the practice. Additionally, a change in sentiment has coincided with the decrease in prevalence. Only 9% of people in Burkina Faso believe that female genital mutilation should be continued, with support for the practice coming mostly from rural communities.

Government Intervention

Burkina Faso’s government also recognizes that a law is not enough to completely eradicate female genital mutilation. Strong cultural and religious beliefs have kept female circumcision rituals active. The legislation does not have much sway over a firmly established tradition. To fully combat the problem, the Burkinabé Government established the National Committee for the Fight against Female Genital Mutilation(CNLPE) in 1990. Since then, the committee has successfully led a nationwide campaign against female genital mutilation. The CNLPE has fought to end the practice in several ways.

How the CNLPE Fights Female Genital Mutilation

  • A national hotline was created for Burkinese citizens to anonymously report instances of female genital mutilation.
  • Police and magistrates patrol villages to investigate potential cases of female genital mutilation and offer counsel.
  • Educational campaigns on FGM in Burkina Faso reached more than 300 remote villages.
  • Awareness of the issue has been publicized in nearly every form of media. Media is used to disseminate information on female genital mutilation in local languages across the country.
  • Information on the practice has become a part of the curriculum in primary and secondary schools.

Looking Ahead

Burkina Faso has become one of the most committed countries in the fight to eliminate female genital mutilation. Banning the practice in 1996, combined with various efforts from the CNLPE, resulted in a decrease in FGM nationally. Although the issue has gained support, some rural villages have started performing genital mutilation on girls at younger ages. This is done, “so that they are either less willing to talk about what has happened to them or to seek help.” Though there is more work to be done, Burkina Faso is moving in the right direction in ending FGM for good.

– Eliza Kirk
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is a country in West Africa that is home to more than 20.9 million people. The Burkinabe people have dealt with ongoing instability, displacement and food insecurity as the result of the dissolution of a government regime in 2014. With 40% of the country’s population living in poverty, there is a clear need for humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian organizations like the World Food Programme have been working to help combat food insecurity and malnutrition in Burkina Faso.

Current Situation in Burkina Faso

The World Food Programme (WFP) released its 2020 Annual Country Report for Burkina Faso, which contains various statistics and the humanitarian goals for the country until 2023. Burkina Faso has experienced an 80% increase in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) since 2019, with more than one million IDPs. The WFP estimates that 15% of the country’s population, or 3.3 million people, face food insecurity.

Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization, states that more than 1.5 million children under 5 are affected by the nutrition crisis in Burkina Faso. COVID-19 has worsened the situation in Burkina Faso as it becomes more difficult to get humanitarian aid to those in need. Other factors contributing to the current food insecurity crisis in Burkina Faso include the armed conflict, droughts and poverty.

Humanitarian Response

The WFP states that the number of people it reached in 2020 doubled compared to 2019, with the WFP reaching more than two million people. The WFP has worked in Burkina Faso to provide people with cash transfers and emergency school feeding initiatives. It also provided more than 305,000 children as well as pregnant and lactating women with treatment for acute malnutrition. The organization’s ability to help the Burkinabe people weakened as COVID-19, access and security restraints as well as regional instability made it more difficult for assistance to reach vulnerable populations.

Save the Children has been working in Burkina Faso since 1982, reaching more than 85,000 children in 2020. The nonprofit is focusing its efforts on providing children with a healthy start to their lives, providing children with opportunities to learn and protecting them from any potential harm. The organization has been working with the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health to strengthen healthcare systems in the country. The organization has programs that provide food assistance, clean water, sanitation and hygiene products to children, pregnant women and mothers.

Save the Children works with schools and teachers to create literacy centers to improve the quality of education for children. An alternative education program called Youth in Action focuses on providing an education to IDPs and children without access to school. The education program focuses on literacy, basic finance knowledge and developing life skills. The organization is also working to protect children from dangerous jobs, educating people on ways to protect their children and promoting parenting methods that support children. Other efforts also promote local organizations that are actively working to provide children with more opportunities and end child marriage in Burkina Faso.

Looking Forward

With 40% of the population living in poverty, increasing insecurity from conflict and more than a million IDPs, Burkina Faso is facing a growing humanitarian crisis that requires continued humanitarian attention to combat. COVID-19 has caused the conditions in Burkina Faso to deteriorate as humanitarian assistance becomes more difficult to deliver. The WFP and Save the Children intend to increase efforts to combat malnutrition in Burkina Faso by providing nutritious food, building resilience and empowering the Burkinabe people.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr