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Conflict in Burkina Faso
In late January 2019, the eruption of conflict in the Centre-Nord and Sahel regions displaced thousands of people in rural Burkina Faso. The recent attacks are an extension of a disturbing trend involving the displacement of more than 115,000 people since 2015. According to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, extremist attacks and conflict in Burkina Faso have quadrupled since 2017 as groups like al Qaeda, Ansar ul Islam and ISIS continue to gain support in the north.

Burkina Faso and the Situation

One of the more inspiring success stories in Western Africa, Burkina Faso was on track to implement sweeping political reforms this year, including presidential term limits. Since the country ousted former authoritarian ruler, Blaise Compaoré, in 2014, voter registration increased by 70 percent as scores of Burkinabè grew excited by the prospects of democracy. However, this March 2019, the government put the referendum on hold indefinitely while it struggles to bring stability back to Burkina Faso.

The conflict in Burkina Faso has come at a considerable human cost, with over 70,000 people displaced since January alone. The majority have fled within the country’s borders, finding refuge in the nearby regions of Foubé, Barsalogho and Déou. Though the camps provide families with relative safety, the hastily built, government-sponsored structures are far from adequate. The state is already overwhelmed by a recent influx of Malian refugees and resources are stretched thin as a result.

In refugee encampments like Foubé, a shortage of shelters has forced the roughly 8,000 refugees to live in extremely crowded conditions, increasing the likelihood of measles and other outbreaks. The lack of sanitation has resulted in hygiene-related illnesses, respiratory infections, malaria and parasitic diseases. Meanwhile, in Barasalogho, the nearest clean water is an hour drive from the encampment, sometimes forcing residents to drink unsafe wells or streams and increasing the prevalence of cholera or other illnesses.

UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders

Despite the severity of the conflict in Burkina Faso, the situation has received shockingly little international attention. While the UNHCR and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have played a prominent role in refugee support, the conflict continues to restrict access to many northern communities. MSF, whose primary goal in Burkina Faso is to issue vaccines and curb outbreaks, is working in only two refugee camps. With the situation becoming increasingly tense, the U.N. is urging refugees to seek shelter in camps where the UNHCR and MSF are active.

The sluggish international response has placed the burden of responsibility on the already overwhelmed Burkinabè government. While government rhetoric continues to support democracy and political reform, its response to the extremism has resulted in an unknown number of extrajudicial killings. In less than a year, Human Rights Watch documented at least 116 civilian deaths from government security forces, although the real number is unknown.

As the Burkinabè government struggles to regain stability, the U.N. is calling on the international community to do more. The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $4 million early this March, although experts say roughly $100 million is needed to adequately address the crisis. Although the 115,000 forcibly displaced people face a stout uphill climb before the restoration of peace, the future of the Arizona-sized nation is still bright. While a new date for the referendum has not been announced, the steady rise in voter registration and political mobilization suggests reform is on Burkina Faso’s horizon.

– Kyle Dunphey
Photo: Flickr


Burkina Faso is a country situated in Western Africa, and its capital is Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso – a former French Colony — is surrounded by the countries of Mali, Niger, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, making it a land-locked country. Being a part of Sub Saharan region, the climate is predominantly hot and semi-dry with an average annual rainfall of 25 cm to 115 cm. The country is rich in mineral resources like gold, manganese, zinc, phosphate, silver and diamond with gold being the major export commodity.

In spite of the country’s natural resources, about 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Due to drought, deforestation and improper agriculture, food insecurity is a major problem in this area. Lack of high-quality drinking water also contributes to diseases like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever prevalent in the population.

HIV/AIDS poses a huge threat to the population of Burkina Faso. As a result of food insecurity and disease outbreak, education doesn’t find a place among the population.

Humanitarian Aid to Burkina Faso 

The good news is various Foreign Aid Organizations like Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), UNICEF and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are working relentlessly to address the problems faced by the country by offering humanitarian aid to Burkina Faso.

Millennium Challenge Corporation

In its five-year compact from 2008 to 2013, the MCC along with the government of Burkina Faso invested in four different projects related to agriculture, land tenure, roads and girls’ education. The target of these projects was to reduce poverty, increase economic growth and educate the female population.

The above projects helped in irrigating more agricultural land as well as training farmers in growing more crops and raising better livestock. Legal protection has been provided to the farmers in securing their farmland. Roads were constructed in the rural region which helped in both reducing travel time and vehicle maintenance cost — developments that thus boosted the overall economic growth throughout the region.

BRIGHT II Project

The BRIGHT II Project of MCC (related to girl’s education) directed its efforts towards building schools, providing proper facilities for female education and increasing access to school education. The result is that the completion rate of primary school students increased from 21 percent in 2008 to more than 57 percent in 2012. In this regard, humanitarian aid to Burkina Faso is working its way up towards success.

USAID provided human rights assistance to the government of Burkina Faso by helping to maintain a stable democratic governance. Under its support, the country held its first free and open democratic elections in November 2015, followed then by the municipal election in May 2016.

USAID Resilience Program

The Resilience Program of USAID focuses on increasing agricultural productivity and long term food security. It also targets improving the health conditions of the women and children whose mortality rate is higher and thus are more vulnerable to various diseases.

In collaboration with the World Food Program, the organization also provided food assistance to 30,000 Malian population who continued to take refuge in Burkina Faso as of December 2016.

UNICEF

Unsafe water is a leading cause of death in Burkina Faso. UNICEF works with the government in manually drilling water points in various remote areas so that mass populations can get access to safe water and hygienic sanitation. In the process, they are also providing employment to the common people by training them in locally produced and easily available tools.

Due to the contribution of humanitarian aid to Burkina Faso, the country has progressed in political rights, rule of law and information freedom. Despite its poverty, illiteracy and disease outbreak, Burkina Faso is slowly moving forward as a stable democratic country.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

 Burkina Faso

The government has made significant improvements to the infrastructure in Burkina Faso, particularly in the water sanitation and supply sector. The government is working hard to ensure that there is better access to safe drinking water, piped water into homes and improved health for the people living in the West African nation.

In past years, people in Burkina Faso went without sustainable water, even though the country is near the Volta River Basin and Niger River Delta. In fact, both of these rivers have proven to be unreliable to Burkina Faso, as they begin to dry out during certain seasons. In addition to the seasonal rivers, the country experiences common droughts throughout the year. With these geographic disadvantages, water became scarce for over 18 million citizens of the country, and water sanitation became an issue.

Fortunately, the infrastructure in Burkina Faso has improved drastically from the past. Over a span of twelve years, drinking water sustainability increased from 54 percent to 90 percent. For the Burkinabé living there, this improvement in drinking water sustainability means that the chances of having better living conditions and health are much higher.

The urban areas of Burkina Faso seem to be improving because of the technological resources that are being made available to the people living there. Yet, the same cannot be said for those who live in the poor rural areas of the country. More than half of the rural population still lives without usable water.

One of the main reasons why the infrastructure in Burkina Faso has issues with water sanitation and supply is because there is a lack of information provided to people living in rural areas. According to UNICEF, 50 percent of Burkinabé still practice open defecation, as they are not aware of the dangers of poor hygiene and see this practice as an everyday norm.

Another issue the country is having with improving water sanitation in rural areas is being able to increase access to technology while saving on funds. Without the proper budget, Burkina Faso must take into consideration the methods in which they plan to continue to help their citizens get better access to water supply and sanitation. This has changed with the assistance of the World Bank, which has mobilized $226 million over the past 20 years for Burkina Faso’s sanitation development. More than 440,000 people, including those in rural areas, have gained access to better water supply and sanitation, thus improving living conditions.

The people of Burkina Faso can hold their heads high knowing that their government is working hard with organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and Wateraid to ensure that conditions continually improve over the next couple of years.

– Seriah Sargenton

Photo: Flickr

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is seeing an uptick in development with projects planned in numerous sectors across the country. Recognized as one of West Africa’s least developed nations, Burkina Faso has been plagued in recent years by droughts and military coups.

Primarily known as a hub for gold reserves, Burkina Faso has become attractive to investment in recent years by private sector companies contributing to the enhanced forms of solar power, cotton and other agro-economic development poles. The investment announced in recent weeks comes from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has decided to invest approximately $910 million in Burkina Faso over the next five years.

The project, targeted towards the power and agricultural sectors, has been praised by numerous high-level politicians, who claim that such an investment would reap large profits and be beneficial towards the Country Strategy Document (DSP).

The Burkinabe government elaborated on the collaboration between both parties by stating that such an agreement is designed to “reduce the large disparity between urban and rural regions in relation to the power sector, through improving electrical appliances, as well as supporting the agricultural sector in order to reduce poverty in rural areas”.

Other models of development have taken different forms in terms of education outreach in order to target children who lack the appropriate resources in school. The company, Longhorn Publishers, which is promoting its digital publications across the continent, is mainly targeting primary school computerization programs.

Such investments are critical for the progression in the economic situation in Burkina Faso. The approach towards refinement in both the agricultural and power sectors aims at reducing inequalities. With the increasing engagement in both the public and private sectors, the government will also look towards community-based self-help programs that will be working towards reducing global poverty.

Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Burkina FasoThe small landlocked nation of Burkina Faso, in West Africa, is one of the poorest nations in both the continent and the globe. The United Nations consistently names it the third poorest country in the world. Burkina Faso has few natural resources, and thus relies primarily on the export of its two cash crops: cotton and gold. The nation’s industrial base is very weak, and almost 90 percent of the population works in subsistence farming.The weakness of the economy translates to a feeble

The weakness of the economy translates to a feeble healthcare system. There are an estimated 0.05 physicians per 1,000 people, along with high poverty rates and malnutrition: one in four children under five is underweight. This combination of factors leaves the nation’s population extremely vulnerable and at a very high risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases. This is especially evidenced by the life expectancy in the nation — 59 years— which is 12 years below the world average of 71. Following is a list of five of the most common diseases in Burkina Faso:

  1. Lower Respiratory Diseases
    Lower Respiratory Diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, are the group of most common diseases in Burkina Faso. They are by far the leading cause of death in the country, accounting for 14 percent of all deaths. Pulmonary Tuberculosis, although receding throughout recent years, is also a common respiratory infection in the nation, which is especially lethal to HIV-positive patients.
  2. Malaria
    Malaria is an extremely infectious disease transmitted from person to person by female mosquitoes. It is a chronic issue in sub-Saharan Africa; 90 percent of all malaria-related deaths occur in children of the region. In Burkina Faso it is one of the top causes of death, accounting for 10 percent of all fatalities.
  3. Diarrheal Disease
    Due to a lack of proper infrastructure and a high prevalence of hunger and malnutrition, Burkina Faso’s population is especially prone to food and waterborne diseases. Consequently, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea is a major concern and causes up to 6 percent of all deaths in the nation.
  4. Meningitis
    Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes of the spinal cord and the brain. It is typically caused by viral infections and some of its forms can be prevented by vaccination. Although the disease still accounts for 4 percent of all deaths, a vaccination drive aided by international organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has vaccinated close to 12 million people against meningitis in the country.
  5. HIV/AIDS
    Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most common diseases in Burkina Faso is HIV/AIDS. Although the rate of infection and fatality has been decreasing steadily since 2000, the immunodeficiency virus infection, and AIDS which develops from it, still accounts for 3 percent of deaths in Burkina Faso.

Sub-Saharan Africa is already a region of the world especially prone to high poverty, hunger, and disease. Burkina Faso, amongst nations of the area, is one of the worst affected: it has an especially weak economy and a lack of natural resources. If there is a country that evinces the need for aid and help from the international community, Burkina Faso is it.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Burkina Faso
The major diseases in Burkina Faso are also some of the largest killers in the world. They are incredibly dangerous, common throughout the country, and may be separated into categories as follows: food or waterborne diseases; vector-borne diseases; water contact diseases; aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases; respiratory disease and animal contact diseases. Below are the most common diseases in Burkina Faso.

Hepatitis A
This is a form of viral hepatitis. It is transmitted by food and causes jaundice and fever. Most who die from it are children aged one to four. Although the death rate from hepatitis A is Burkina Faso is lower than any other country in Western sub-Saharan Africa, it is their most dangerous food and waterborne disease.

Hepatitis E
The deadliness of this disease in Burkina Faso is most common at age 80. At this age, hepatitis E kills 4.3 out of 100,000 people. The virus targets the liver and is most commonly transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

Typhoid Fever
This is another of many diseases in Burkina Faso commonly spread through fecal-oral routes. Those infected experience high fevers and, if left untreated, mortality rates can reach 20 percent of the infected population. The annual mortality rate for typhoid fever in Burkina Faso has decreased 5 percent since 1990. It is like hepatitis A in that it mostly kills young children aged one to four.

Malaria
Malaria affects more people in Burkina Faso than in other countries of Western sub-Saharan Africa, although the mortality rate dropped 26 percent between 1990 and 2013. That decline is significant, but the death rate from Malaria decreased 49 percent in Sierra Leone and 51 percent in Gambia over the same period.

Dengue Fever
This disease is commonly spread through mosquitoes. Dengue fever is less common than it used to be, with a 52 percent decrease since 1990. It will occasionally cause shock and hemorrhage, leading to death in 5 percent of cases. While one of the less common diseases in Burkina Faso, it is still prevalent.

This is only the beginning of the list for diseases in Burkina Faso. While the country is fighting for better and stronger health care and prevention systems for these diseases, its citizens continue to die of entirely preventable causes. Burkina Faso is on its way to saving a lot of lives with their improvements in health care system, and help from countries like the United States can only help them from here.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr


Tens of thousands of Malians have made their way to Algeria, Togo, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania and Burkina Faso to avoid oppression from armed conflicts between the Malian army, members of the Tuareg movement and other regional factions. In January 2012, a military coup exacerbated this exodus. Ever since this coup, violence in Mali has continued despite the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation that was signed in June 2015. This has hampered the return of displaced and stateless Malians who are spread across the continent. Prejudice, persecution and ethnic stigmatization continue to hinder the development of peace in the region.

10 Facts About Refugees in Burkina Faso

  1. As of March 2017, there were 32,972 individual refugees and 8,787 families residing in the country, according to government statistics and sources from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Comparatively, in late December 2014, 32,097 refugees were in the country.
  2. Most refugees in Burkina Faso are women (51.6 percent), individuals between 18-59 years of age (40.5 percent) and children between the ages of 5 and 11 (26.28 percent).
  3. With respect to ethnicity, most refugees in Burkina Faso are Tuareg (75 percent). Over the last year, more than 2,000 refugees from northern Mali were registered. General regional insecurity, gender-based violence and food shortages are largely to blame.
  4. Fifty-seven percent of refugees do not have an occupation (8,801 males and 10,098 females). Most men are breeders (11.49 percent or 3,620) and most women are cleaners (12.17 percent or 3,964). In the capital, most refugee artisans, such as leather workers and blacksmiths, earn income from tourists and municipal needs. UNHCR provides financial assistance to artisans who organize themselves into groups.
  5. Refugees in Burkina Faso reside in two primary camps: Mentao and Goudoubou. As of March 31, 2017, Mentao holds 12,658 individuals and 3,534 families. Comparatively, Goudoubou has 10,131 refugees and 2,863 families.

  1. Every refugee within the Mentao and Goudoubou encampments has access to healthcare.
  2. A large percentage of refugees in Burkina Faso (80.33 percent) have a primary education – more than any other educational level. Roughly 46 percent of refugees are students (1,820 males and 1,300 females).
  3. According to the UNHCR April 2017 West Africa Funding Update, Burkina Faso has only received 16 percent of its needed funds – there is a gap of $17.8 million. Additionally, only 19 percent of the funding needed to support all West African refugees has been received. A total of $231.7 million is still needed.
  4. Based on March 2017 figures, a total of 776 individual refugees and 251 families live in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, while in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, 607 refugees (mostly men) and 228 families have taken up residence. What distinguishes urban refugees from those in rural settings or encampments? The answer is twofold. Firstly, their skills are said to be more developed than those in traditional camps. Secondly, they have greater access to employment opportunities because of those skills. Together, these elements mean urban refugees have the means to support themselves, which reduces the need for humanitarian aid.
  5. In Burkina Faso, the National Commission for Refugees (CONAREF) and UNHCR provide financial, logistical and healthcare assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers (in addition to many other NGOs and government agencies). However, if refugees wish to return home, they can waive the protection and health care provided by these entities.

At present, the UNHCR plans to continue its registration of refugees in Burkina Faso. This includes identity cards, biometric CTVs and refugee certificates. This should enable the government to improve its data collection activities on refugees, stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness. Statistical accuracy will enable UNHCR, government agencies and non-governmental organizations to improve their quality of humanitarian assistance in the region.

JG Federman

Photo: Flickr

Burkina Faso_Merriage
In Burkina Faso, forced marriage is a frequent occurrence, especially for girls of a very young age. Over 52 percent of women in the country are married before the age of 18 and 10 percent are married before the age of 15. Forced marriage often puts girls in jeopardy of increasing health resources and losing access to education.

Child marriage rates vary throughout the country but can be as high as 86 percent in some regions. The practice is connected to both poverty and tradition. There are also tangible links to lack of education, with girls being more at risk for child marriage if they are less educated.

Forced marriage in Burkina Faso is technically illegal, but the law is rarely enforced. It does not prevent traditional or religious marriages, which creates a loophole in the law, causing many girls to be forced into marriage. The law also defines a lower legal marriage age for girls than boys. Girls can legally marry at age 17 and boys at age 20. Many girls are married before age 17, despite the current laws in place to prevent the practice.

Girls as young as 11 can be forced into marriage. This equates to a huge age difference between a young girl and her male spouse. The gap can vary from 30 to 50 years. In many cases, these men are engaging in polygamy and already have one or more wives.

Forced marriage is usually motivated by economic or social incentives. Sometimes marriage is promised at birth or during early childhood, often including a dowry from the husband’s family that consists of money or land.

Risks Associated with Forced Marriage

There are numerous health risks for young girls that are forced into marriage. Women are expected to bear children at the husband’s discretion, which can be extremely unsafe at such a young age. Complications during pregnancy may cause injury or even death to the young mother. Physical and sexual violence is also common among forced marriages.

Marrying early endangers girls’ futures as well. Wives are expected to perform all household chores and are often denied access to education or economic opportunity. The level of female access to education in Burkina Faso is already low, at only 64.2 percent, but girls that are forced into marriage are more likely to give up school.

Joint Efforts Toward Prevention

Burkina Faso created a “National Strategy to End Child Marriage” in 2015. The goal of the project is to reduce the occurrence of child marriage by 2025. The strategy is supported by U.N. agencies as well as political and religious leaders throughout the country. Objectives include preventing child marriage and supporting victims of child marriage.

This is a step in the right direction, but the country still has a long way to go to comply with international human rights standards.

Lindsay Harris

Photo: Flickr

ending_global_poverty
Though digital technology often seems out of reach in developing countries where some people are struggling to find clean water and food, one can look to Digital India—an initiative by the Government of India to integrate digital technology into society—to see how such technologies offer solutions toward ending global poverty.

The initiatives of Digital India include creating digital infrastructure, delivering government services to citizens digitally, improving digital literacy, and expanding high-speed internet access for rural areas.

According to news site DNA India, the Government of India hopes to reach nationwide information frames by March 2017. By 2020, the government has plans to train over 150,000 students to work in the IT sector. Wi-fi access will be digitally accessible by all universities, country-wide.

According to H.C. Hong, president and CEO of Samsung India, the popularity of smartphones and mobile social media has caused a large growth in online activity and technology adaptation of young people in India.

For digital technology to become a success in developing countries, a high-skilled workforce needs to exist in the sector. This opens up the job market, allows for professional training, and expands business growth that all help to reduce poverty.

This year, Burkina Faso became the first African nation to use cloud networking technology thanks to French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent.

According to the African Media Agency (AMA), the Danish government will be funding the project with a $19.9 billion investment that will provide for digital public service development and the training of 100 employees.

In Burkina Faso, digital services for health, education, justice, services will be provided by the network and assist the country in facilitating economic growth. Danish Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Bo Jensen, explains the region’s digital technology solution to ending poverty:

He states, “The objectives pursued by the project are in line with the national development strategy and sectorial strategies. It is an innovative approach using state of the art technology to pursue poverty alleviation and good governance…We strongly believe that this project will lead to more transparency and improved public financial management.”

Cloud access in poor, rural areas offers information and services that may not have been accessible in certain regions of the world ever before. People have access to endless information, such as weather reports, research and stock market news—consumer information that can lead to market activity and stimulate the economy.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: African Media Agency, Alcatel-Lucent, DNA India
Photo: Flickr

 

Democratic Growth in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso’s recent presidential election marks a turning point for the West African country, which has been locked in a power struggle for decades.

November 29 marked the first truly democratic election in Burkina Faso in 30 years. Roch Marc Christian Kabore won the presidential election in a significant statement of democratic promise for the long-suffering country.

However, the election did not go off without a hitch. Presidential guard forces, led by General Gilbert Diendéré, staged a coup in September by taking the transitional president and prime minister hostage, pushing the election back two months. Fortunately, the popular movement successfully shut down the attempt according to U.N. Dispatch.

Newly elected President Kabore founded the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), a social democratic party that opposes former president Compaore’s Congress for Democracy and Progress party (CDP).

This election brings much-needed change that will lift Burkina Faso out of its period of civil strife. Between power struggles and economic downfall, this country has seen it all in the past few decades.

“A poor country even by West African standards, landlocked Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts and military coups,” the BBC said.

Poor, indeed, Burkina Faso ranks 181 out of 187 in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2014 Human Development Index.

The election not only brings the promise of democratic growth, but also socio-economic growth in the country. Ethiopia is another country which is benefitting from socio-economic and democratic transformation, as Sudanese government officials reportedly commended its federal system for guaranteeing sustainable peace and economic development.

“The Sudanese delegates said the Ethiopian federal system was the foundation for stability and socio-economic development achieved following the constitutional-based introduction of the system,” the Sudan Tribune said.

Now that democratic rule has been established in Burkina Faso, President Kabore can focus on building the country’s economy and a sustainable future.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: UN Dispatch 1, UNDP, UN Dispatch 2, Reuters, BBC, Sudan Tribune
Photo: Flickr