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What are the current issues in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking 183 out of 186 countries on UNDP's Human Development Index (2013), showing little improvement in recent years. 44.6 percent of the population live below the poverty level, on less than USD 1.25 per day (Human Development Report 2013). High poverty levels, combined with the fact that Burkina Faso is landlocked, make the country's population particularly vulnerable to economic shocks such as high food prices, which limit vulnerable people’s access to food.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in Africa, ranking 183 out of 186 countries on UNDP's Human Development Index (2013), showing little improvement in recent years. 44.6 percent of the population live below the poverty level, on less than USD 1.25 per day (Human Development Report 2013). High poverty levels, combined with the fact that Burkina Faso is landlocked, make the country's population particularly vulnerable to economic shocks such as high food prices, which limit vulnerable people’s access to food.

Burkina Faso has a population of 16.5 million people (World Bank), which is growing rapidly at 3 percent annually, placing pressure on the country’s infrastructure and resources. The country’s population is largely rural (73 percent, World Bank), depending upon agriculture for their livelihoods. In addition to agriculture, Burkina Faso's economy is largely reliant on cotton and gold exports. Literacy rates are extremely low at 28.7 percent (Human Development Report 2013) with large regional and gender disparities in primary school enrolment. Only 3.2 percent of men and less than 1 percent of women aged 25 and older have completed secondary school (Human Development Report 2013).

The country is prone to recurrent natural disasters such as drought, floods and locust invasions, which have grown increasingly frequent and severe. In addition, desertification in drought-prone areas is rapidly spreading and the impact of climate change is increasingly affecting the availability of water and pasture.

Food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain chronically high. In 2013, Burkina Faso ranked 65 out of 78 on the global hunger index. In addition, while the 2012/2013 harvest showed a significant improvement compared to the previous harvest and the five-year average, populations are still recovering from the 2012 food and nutrition crisis. The government’s response plan for 2014 indicated that 1,330,000 people are vulnerable to food insecurity and 7,300 remain affected by the flooding that occurred in 2013. In addition, the influx of Malian refugees into the country that started in 2012 has generated additional challenges for food security in Burkina Faso, not only for the refugees, but also for the communities surrounding refugee settlements.

The global acute malnutrition rate (GAM) is high with 8.2 percent of children less than five years of age suffering from moderate or severe acute malnutrition (preliminary results of Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey 2013). Levels of stunting have also not improved since 2008, remaining above the 'serious' threshold at 31.5 percent (preliminary results SMART survey 2013). Micronutrient deficiencies are also high: 88 percent of children under 5 and 49 percent of women suffer from anemia (Demographic and Health Survey, DHS 2010).

What the World Food Programme is doing in Burkina Faso

  • Country Programme 200163 (2011 - 2015)

The Country Programme (CP) currently has two main activities: a school feeding programme for all children in the Sahel Region; and nutritional and food assistance to undernourished people living with HIV as well as vulnerable children orphaned by AIDS.

Under the school feeding component, all primary and pre-school children in the Sahel Region, where the enrollment rate is below the national average, are targeted as beneficiaries for the school meals programme. In addition, girls in the last two years of primary school with an attendance rate of above 80 percent receive take-home rations of 10 kilograms of cereals as an added incentive to families to keep their girls in school.

The objectives of the school feeding programme are to increase enrolment, attendance and gender parity rates in the targeted primary schools. The support for primary education component support the Government's goals of universal primary education by 2020 and improved quality of education. This component also has the overarching goal of enhancing the government's school feeding programme.

Undernourished anti-retroviral therapy (ART) clients and OVC receive nutritional and food assistance in five towns across Burkina Faso where the HIV prevalence is elevated - Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Dedougou, and Gaoua. Based on a medical examination, undernourished ART clients receive a voucher, which they then submit to one of WFP's civil society partners in order to retrieve monthly food assistance.

The objectives of the HIV nutrition programme are to improve the nutritional recovery and adherence to treatment of people living with HIV and to protect orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) from food and nutrition insecurity.

The CP also aims to support the production of locally fortified flours. In 2013, WFP worked with the Government to revise the norms for these products to be in line with WFP's own norms.

  • Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 200509 (2013 - 2014)

Following the food and nutrition crisis in 2012, this PRRO, which started in April 2013, was designed to respond to the chronically high levels of malnutrition in the country, exacerbated by the crisis, as well as to support the recovery of vulnerable households and to strengthen their resilience to future shocks.

The activities of the project fall into two main categories: nutrition and food security. Nutrition activities include moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) treatment and prevention as well as take-home rations for caretakers of children receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The food security activities include Cash for Assets (CFA) and Cash for Training (CFT) activities.

While the activities largely fall into the categories of nutrition and food security, both contribute to the ability of households to withstand future shocks. Lower levels of malnutrition amongst children aged 6 - 59 months as well as pregnant and lactating women (PLW) render these vulnerable groups better able to respond to shocks such as drought that have a severe impact on food insecurity.

Targeted supplementary feeding (TSF) activities currently covers seven regions - Boucle de Mouhoun, Centre-East, Centre-North, Centre-West, North, East and Sahel. TSF assistance is provided to children aged 6-59 months as well as PLW with moderate acute malnutrition.

Caretakers of children receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition receive assistance in six out of the seven regions covered by TSF, allowing caretakers to remain in specialized treatment centres with the children. This activity is not carried out in the Sahel Region as NGOs are already implementing it.

In 2013, blanket supplementary feeding took place in six regions of the country - Sahel, North, East, Centre West, Centre North and Centre East - in order to prevent a deterioration in the malnutrition status of children aged 6-23 months. The same activity is planned for 2014.

In the same six regions, Cash for Assets was carried out to improve food security through the creation of assets that increase communities' agricultural productivity and reduce their vulnerability to shocks. Poor and very poor households are targeted. Assets are decided based on what would be both most beneficial to the community and feasible to implement. Cash for Training takes place in the same regions.

  • Regional Emergency Operation 200438

In response to the influx of Malian refugees, and given the regional implications of the Mali conflict, in June 2012, WFP launched a regional emergency operation addressing the needs of refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger and responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mali. Since their arrival in Burkina Faso, WFP has providedMalianrefugees with a monthly ration made up of cereals, supercereal, pulses, oil and salt, ensuring a daily intake of 2,100 calories.

The EMOP's specific objectives are to: 

  • Prevent a deterioration in the food security status of Malian IDPs and refugees through targeted food distributions and/or cash transfers;
  • Prevent deterioration of acute malnutrition among children aged 6-23 months from IDP and refugee populations through blanket supplementary feeding; and
  • Treat moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) among children aged 6-59 months and PLW through targeted supplementary feeding.

The majority of refugees in Burkina Faso are in the Sahel Region; the rest are located in the Saag-Nioniogo site, 20 kilometers outside of Ouagadougou or living in the town of Bobo-Dioulasso in south-western Burkina Faso. In the Sahel Region, there are two main official sites whilesome refugees remain inunofficialsites with smaller populations.

Starting in January 2014, general cash/food distributions are only carried out at the official sites of Goudebou, Mentao and Saag-Nioniogo and in the urban centre of Bobo-Dioulasso. Refugees who have chosen to remain in the unofficial sites in the Sahel Region or outside of any site are able to retrieve their rations at the official sites. Refugees receive combined rations of food and cash. The cash transfers allow refugees to purchase items such as milk and meat in addition to the rice, pulses, oil, Supercereal and salt they receive from WFP.

Nutrition activities are currently only carried out at the Goudebou site, where a SMART survey in February 2013 found the global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate to extremely elevated at 24.5 percent.

WFP also carries out emergency school feeding for primary school children at the Goudebou and Mentao sites in the Sahel Region.

  • P4P

WFP is working to connect farmers in Burkina Faso to markets through the Purchase for Progress initiative; Burkina Faso has been chosen to be among the 21 pilot countries. The five-year pilot project links WFP’s demand for staple commodities to farmers producing food surpluses, and allows the latter to sell their products at market price through the expertise and the support of their respective farmers’ organizations.

Following the end of the initial pilot phase (2009-2013), 2014 is a transition year for P4P, focusing on evaluations and lessons learned. Following an evaluation, a project document covering the 2015-2019 period will be prepared. Both capacity building trainings and food purchases will continue to be made through P4P – in 2014, the target for food purchases is 4,000 MT with a target number of 10,000 smallholder farmers.

Featured Burkina Faso publications

  • Burkina Faso: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 444 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Burkina Faso? Visit the Burkina Faso publications archive.