The Displacement Crisis in Burkina FasoIn West Africa, nestled between the more well-known countries of Mali and Ghana, Burkina Faso faces one of the most pressing displacement crises of this decade. With about 3.5 million people currently in critical condition and awaiting humanitarian assistance, the Norwegian Refugee Council has labeled Burkina Faso as the world’s most neglected crisis

The Current State

This crisis is quite sudden, considering that Burkina Faso was not imminent to any disastrous situation just five years ago. Recent militia tensions have sparked hostility between militant groups and the government, with about 40% of Burkina Faso’s land annexed by militia groups. Around 2 million Burkinabe people were displaced by violence, and further struggles have caused obstructions to health care and educational facilities. 

Despite this, the displacement crisis in Burkina Faso remains relatively unseen in larger media reports. This may be the confluence of several issues, one being the influx of coverage on Ukraine caused by the Russia-Ukraine War. Ukraine is still a place of heavy conflict and deserves support and coverage, yet Ukraine receives five times as much funding as the world’s top 10 most crucial displacement crises. 

Additionally, the displacement crisis in Burkina Faso is relatively imperceptible to foreign eyes. Many displaced communities join larger cities by pitching tents or moving in with relatives. As the number of people displaced increases, the population in these larger communities becomes unsustainable. Resources are quickly depleted, and food insecurity is only exacerbated by the inaccessibility of some communities. 

An estimated 3.4 million people in Burkina Faso are experiencing critical levels of food insecurity, with people in violence-plagued cities like Dijbo resorting to eating forged leaves. Displacement only grows worse, with families having moved upwards of four times in the past four years. 

Nonprofit Aid

A handful of nonprofits, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and smaller-scale efforts such as the Konkourona Alliance Foundation (KAFO), have made headway in increasing awareness and humanitarian aid in Burkina Faso. 

The International Resource Committee (IRC), an international initiative founded in 1933, provides on-the-ground support for displaced communities. It provides sanitation and health care services in lacking areas, alongside delivering clean water and food. 

KAFO centers its aid on the city of Konkourona, the birthplace of the organization’s founder, Dr. Jules Millogo. Founded in 2019 with Catherine Hoath, KAFO provides both humanitarian and educational support. Since it began operation, KAFO has built three new water towers in Konkourona and two health centers, one for primary care and another for mothers and children. KAFO has also assisted in educating about 400 students by building three new classrooms. 

An Especially Vulnerable Group

The displacement crisis in Burkina Faso impacts families all over the country, but women are particularly susceptible to gender-based violence and lack of life-saving health care. Reproductive health care is essential in times of crisis when the transmission of STIs, such as HIV, increases. As people are displaced, any government assistance prioritizes essentials such as food and water, inadvertently leaving women in displacement camps without reproductive health care.

MSI, a global nonprofit committed to providing reproductive health care to women in underprivileged areas, is currently aiding displaced women in Burkina Faso. MSI assists in a panoply of services, including HIV testing, cervical cancer screening and contraceptives. 

Burkina Faso is an extremely vulnerable country where about 40% of citizens live below the poverty line. As violence and insecurity ravage the country, humanitarian aid has been distinctly lacking. Hopefully, with the advocacy of organizations such as IRC and MSI, the displaced Burkinabe people acquire the aid they are due.

– Inaya Lala
Photo: Pixabay

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.


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.


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