USAID Programs in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that over four in 10 Burkinabè live in poverty. A high dependency on agriculture, as well as natural disasters, political instability and armed domestic conflict have increased food instability and displaced millions of people in the country. USAID programs in Burkina Faso work to improve the lives of the population. The agency’s work in Burkina Faso is extensive, covering many areas. 

Agriculture and Food Security

Agriculture plays a massive role in the Burkinabè economy, with the sector being responsible for the income of 80% of the population. Despite this, food insecurity is high. The WFP estimates that over 3 million people face acute food insecurity, which is why USAID programs in the country work to improve agriculture production and access to food in the country. 

In the fiscal year 2021, USAID provided over $11 million for agriculture and food security programs in Burkina Faso. Regarding agriculture, one of the areas of focus for USAID programs is increasing the production of food by educating farmers on better agricultural practices. In addition, by strengthening the stability of markets and providing microloans, the U.S. helps Burkinabè farmers have more stable, financially viable agriculture businesses.

Due to the high levels of food insecurity, USAID programs in Burkina Faso addressing this issue are essential. By way of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), the agency works with the World Food Programme to donate food to hundreds of thousands of people. FFP also partners with other agencies working in the country. For example, in 2018, together with ACDI/VOCA, FFP pledged $50 million in food assistance and resilience building for particularly vulnerable families in Burkina Faso’s Centre-North region.

Democracy and Human Rights

Burkina Faso saw the democratically elected leader of the country ousted in 2022, in a blow to the country’s democratic transition. USAID programs in Burkina Faso remain committed to supporting democracy — for example, through the training of independent election officials and organizing conferences on democratic governance. 

USAID programs in Burkina Faso also support those institutions in the country that monitor human rights violations and ensure victims of human rights violations are able to access justice. 


Like many impoverished countries, Burkina Faso faces a number of challenges in the health sector, so USAID programs in Burkina Faso that work towards improving the health of the population are of high importance. 

The main health issue concerning Burkina Faso is the prevalence of malaria. The disease, which has been eradicated in many wealthy countries, is the main cause of death for children under the age of 5 in the country, according to UNICEF, and USAID reports that nearly 20,000 people were killed by malaria in Burkina Faso in 2020 alone. This number can be seen as the reason why USAID provided $128.5 million for the fight against malaria in Burkina Faso between 2017 and 2022. Malaria prevention infrastructure, diagnostic tests and medication are all funded by USAID programs in Burkina Faso, highlighting the broad approach aid is taking to fight the disease. For the future, a new, effective Malaria vaccine looks promising, and USAID programs are likely to fund vaccine distributions should a vaccine become broadly usable.

While malaria may be the main health issue facing Burkina Faso, the country also requires support in fighting HIV/AIDS. Regarding this illness, international efforts including those of USAID appear to be bearing fruit as the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths has steadily declined since the early 1990s.

Humanitarian Assistance

A significant portion of USAID programs in Burkina Faso is focused on the provision of humanitarian assistance. The country has seen multiple humanitarian crises in the past years, due to crop failures, domestic armed conflict and natural disasters. As a consequence of these crises, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that as of 2022, around 2.2 million people were internally displaced in Burkina Faso. By way of its Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, USAID provided $54.4 million in humanitarian aid to the country in the fiscal year 2021 alone. 

Water and Sanitation

UNICEF estimates that in 2021, 2.4 million people in Burkina Faso lacked access to safe water. This is why USAID programs in Burkina Faso improving the water and sanitation circumstances have a high priority. Within this area, USAID has a broad field of programs to improve the lives of Burkinabè. Concrete actions by USAID include the improvement and establishment of water points, the monitoring of groundwater and water systems infrastructure as well as the provision of tools and education enabling communities and health care providers to access safer water. 

Looking Ahead

The challenges faced by Burkina Faso are great, and poverty remains widespread in the country. USAID programs in Burkina Faso will need to continue providing support for the foreseeable future if the lives of Burkinabè are to be improved. The announcement of additional aid by the U.S. in the last two years to West Africa may be a sign that USAID will further expand its programs in the country and spells hope for those in need in Burkina Faso.

– Patrick Brownlow
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, located in West Africa, has faced significant challenges that include extreme poverty, community displacement and ongoing HIV transmission. Although there have been improvements in health care and a substantial decline in the country’s overall HIV rates over the past few decades, certain communities remain particularly vulnerable to the disease. Fortunately, the government, international partners and NGOs have been taking the initiative to increase HIV awareness and prevention and improve access to HIV testing and treatment.

Decreasing HIV Rates

Marking a substantial reduction in new infections, the World Bank recorded that Burkina Faso’s HIV incidence rate among people aged 15 to 49 dropped from 4.8% in 1990 to 0.1% in 2021. Furthermore, the country has made significant progress in reducing the HIV prevalence rate, which reached an all-time low of 0.6% among the aforementioned age group in 2021. These milestones highlight the success of increased access to testing and treatment and awareness campaigns aimed at combating the spread of HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso.

Vulnerable Populations

Unfortunately, the disease continues to disproportionately afflict key populations in Burkina Faso. For instance, as of 2021, UNAIDS estimated that sex workers had an HIV prevalence rate of 6.8%, while homosexual men had a prevalence rate of 27.1%. These high numbers highlight the need for targeted interventions and tailored approaches that address the specific vulnerabilities and challenges that these populations face.

Increasing Treatment, Awareness and Health Care Access

According to UNAIDS, Burkina Faso has already made significant progress in increasing access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and health care services for people living with HIV/AIDS. For example, data reported in 2021 suggest that 84% of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso are receiving ART coverage. Additionally, UNAIDs reported a 52% decline in AIDS-related deaths since 2010, a strong indicator of the positive impact that increased access to antiretroviral treatment has had.

According to Integrated Behavioral & Biological Surveillance (IBBS) data published in 2022, 57% of sex workers and 61.4% of homosexual men are now being tested for HIV, becoming aware of their status. Furthermore, the condom use rate among this group has reached 69.5%, indicating a relatively high awareness of condom usage as a preventive measure.

But while these numbers indicate progress, only 18.2% of sex workers have coverage for HIV prevention programs and only 15% of homosexual men have ART coverage.

Fighting for the Future

The low rates of health care coverage among vulnerable communities underscore the need for targeted interventions and enhanced support to ensure that these populations have access to vital prevention services and ART treatment. Addressing this need, the Burkina Faso Government, the Global Fund and health partners are collaborating to advance the fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and strengthen Burkina Faso’s health systems. In 2021, the partnership announced the allocation of four new grants, from 2021 to 2023, to accelerate HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Furthermore, the partnership is working to ensure sustained investments and collaborative efforts to achieve lasting change in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Additionally, Frontline AIDS and Initiative Privée et Communautaire de Lutte Contre le VIH/SIDA (IPC) are collaborating to advance this mission by providing funding, training and technical assistance for 113 community-based organizations in Burkina Faso. In 2019, IPC’s HIV prevention initiatives reached more than 40,000 people, of which 27,000 were sex workers. The organization has also enabled more than 28,000 marginalized individuals to receive testing and know their HIV status.

Looking Ahead

Ongoing Interventions serve as valuable models for addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso and promoting the well-being of its most vulnerable communities. Continued efforts to strengthen partnerships, invest in targeted interventions and guarantee access to comprehensive health care services for all present hope for long-term progress.

Freya Ngo
Photo: Flickr

Dengue Fever in Burkina Faso
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus female mosquitos. There are four different types of the virus currently known as DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4.

Almost half of the people infected with dengue exhibit no specific symptoms, especially since the virus causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever and muscle pain. When left untreated, these symptoms progress to the deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever and cause vomiting, abdominal pain, uncontrolled bleeding, convulsions and circulatory system failure. Dengue is diagnosed by serological or molecular tests. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and preventing the progression of the infection.

As in most tropical regions with prolonged rainy seasons, the climate of Burkina Faso makes it an optimal breeding ground for mosquitos. Dengue is considered an endemic illness. In recent years, the country has faced outbreaks of this disease in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, there were almost 2,000 suspected cases with 86 percent of cases concentrated in the central region of the country. In the 2017 outbreak, the number of suspected cases jumped to almost 7,000 with 64 percent of infections, again, concentrated in the central region.

Urbanization and Dengue

The central region of Burkina Faso includes the capital city of Ouagadougou. Ouagadougou’s rapid urbanization over the last 30 years has contributed to increased cases of dengue fever in Burkina Faso. From 2000 to 2010, the city’s population grew from 800,000 to 1.9 million. This growth is expected to rise by 81 percent to a staggering population of 3.4 million by 2020.

Increased migration to Ouagadougou from rural regions and nearby countries led to spontaneous settlements uncontrolled by the authorities. Between 2004 and 2009, unplanned residential areas grew by 60 percent. These settlements are prone to overcrowding and poor sanitation infrastructure. Stagnant water from the rainy season also makes the settlements more susceptible to mosquitos and dengue.

Response to Dengue Outbreaks

During both the 2016 and 2017 outbreaks, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health declared a state of emergency that allowed for assistance from The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) and World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2016, ALIMA provided 2,100 Rapid Diagnosis Tests (RDTs) to help doctors to accurately diagnose dengue and begin surveillance of the outbreak. The more widespread outbreak of 2017 required a greater response from WHO. The organization provided 15,000 RDTs and 1,500 insecticidal nets to hospitals. WHO also trained 5,500 community volunteers that worked to destroy mosquito-breeding sites in Ouagadougou. These interventions allowed for the slow decline of cases and the continued spread of dengue infections.

Future of Dengue in Burkina Faso

In both outbreak years mentioned above, the financial burden of the outbreak response was shouldered by WHO and ALIMA. The Ministry of Health has identified the importance of strengthening the health care surveillance system so that there are early warnings of future outbreaks of dengue fever in the country.

Vector control methods such as the destruction of mosquito-breeding sites and proper sanitation infrastructure in susceptible areas of Ouagadougou are necessary to prevent continued outbreaks. Finally, early and accurate diagnosis of dengue will save lives through timely treatment and medication.

These targets are the core focus of the Integrated Research Program for the Control of Dengue Fever in Burkina Faso. This program began in 2015 as a five-year collaborative research effort between medical schools in Ouagadougou and Japan. The Japanese Agency for Medical Research and Development plans to invest more than $650 thousand each year to reach the targets by 2020.

As of September 2017, the research program has developed a new detection device that allows for easy virus inspection of mosquitos. This technology will assist detect potential infections and avoid outbreaks. The program is currently working to develop a strategy to limit the replication of dengue in mosquitos which will also help to prevent outbreaks.

The dengue fever has been a very serious problem in Burkina Faso in the past years. The joint effort of various nongovernmental organizations and the country’s government has helped eliminate the crisis in the past two virus outbreaks. This effort will help change the future of dengue fever in Burkina Faso and allow the country to equip itself to properly respond to any new potential outbreaks.

– Chinanu Chi-Ukpai
Photo: Flickr