More on Burkina Faso

One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso ranks 183rd of 188 countries in the Human Development Index. Some 45 percent of its 17.59 million people live on less than US$1.25 per day and life expectancy is just 58 years. Still, Burkina Faso’s population is growing at a fast pace.

Landlocked Burkina Faso spreads over 275,000 km2 of West African semi-arid savannah and forests; however, mining and other human activities are blamed for causing rapid deforestation. The country also suffers increasingly severe cycles of drought and flooding.

Climate change and landscape degradation, combined with slow economic development, have resulted in chronically high rates of food insecurity and undernutrition. Access to electricity and sanitation is poor, and insufficient investment in education and infrastructure makes it difficult to consolidate development gains.

What are the current issues in Burkina Faso?

  • Malnutrition

    The national rate of global acute malnutrition (GAM) for children aged under five rose to 10.4 percent in 2015, according to the SMART nutrition survey. The rate of stunting, caused by chronic malnutrition, was 30.2 percent. An African Union-led cost of hunger study concluded that in 2012, undernutrition in children was costing Burkina Faso an estimated 7.7 percent of GDP.

  • Gender inequality

    The UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index for 2014 ranked Burkina Faso 144th out of 155 countries. Social and cultural constraints limit women’s access to basic services and land, and men tend to be responsible for making household economic decisions.

    The proportion of adults aged 25 and older who have at least some secondary education is very low for both genders, but especially so for women (0.9 percent compared with 3.2 percent for males). The birth rate for adolescent mothers, meanwhile, is 11.5 percent.

  • Low educational enrolment and attainment

    Primary school enrolment rates have increased in recent years to a national average of 87 percent (in 2015). But retention rates, gender and regional disparities, secondary school enrolment and the quality of education remain major concerns. The literacy rate among those over 15 years of age is a low 36 percent.

  • Maternal and infant care

    In the health sector, considerable progress has been made. Thanks to subsidized obstetric and neonatal emergency care, and free preventative care for pregnant women, maternal mortality has been cut to the current rate of about 0.37 percent from 0.55 percent in 2000. Over the same period, the mortality rate for children aged under 5 was cut by more than half to 8.9 percent. Yet there are still many preventable deaths, mostly from diarrhoea, malaria and measles. HIV prevalence has also dropped dramatically since 1994. But 22 percent of people living with HIV still lack access to antiretroviral treatment.

  • Vulnerability to natural disasters

    Climate change has increased the incidence of drought and floods, degrading soil through erosion and nutrient depletion, and resulting in local shortages of fertile land. With each natural disaster, food scarcity has soared, causing price spikes that compound deep poverty.

  • Refugees

    Burkina Faso hosts more than 30,000 refugees who fled conflict in Mali in 2012. This has generated additional challenges for food security, for both refugees and host communities. WFP provides Malian refugees in Burkina Faso with monthly food distributions that combine rations with a daily intake per person of 2,100 kilocalories, and cash transfers to the value of US$8.

What is the World Food Programme doing in Burkina Faso?

WFP’s work in Burkina Faso aims to combat malnutrition, encourage educational enrolment, and enhance farmers’ resilience to natural disasters and market fluctuations.

  • Country Programme

    Under its 2011-16 Burkina Faso Country Programme, WFP provides daily breakfast and lunch to schoolchildren in the Sahel region. To improve gender parity, take-home rations are given to families that keep their girls in school. In 2015, in collaboration with the Government, WFP started a pilot project to introduce fresh, locally produced yoghurt into school meals.

    WFP provides nutritional support to vulnerable population groups in the North, East and Sahel regions under the country programme, including rations to combat high stunting rates among children aged under two.

    In five urban centres, including the capital Ouagadougou, HIV prevalence is higher than the national average. WFP provides nutritional and food assistance to undernourished antiretroviral therapy (ART) patients, orphans and vulnerable children. This assistance improves the nutritional status of people living with HIV, helps counteract the side effects of ART, and encourages treatment compliance.

  • Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (2015-2017)

    WFP is helping people affected by the 2012 Sahel food crisis to transition from emergency relief to sustainable development by supporting Government efforts to fight acute malnutrition and develop resilience to climate shocks. WFP provides treatment for moderate acute malnutrition; rations to prevent acute malnutrition during the lean season; and take-home rations for children being treated at in-patient centres for severe acute malnutrition.

    WFP also supports resilience-building in six regions through projects to create household and community agricultural assets. This may involve restoring degraded land, conserving water, and promoting sustainable agricultural techniques.

    In 2016, WFP is conducting a gender information campaign targeting beneficiaries in the far northern province of Oudalan. The campaign aims to change behaviour as well as broaden understanding of the connections between gender inequality, nutrition and food security.

  • Purchase for Progress

    Since 2009, WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in Burkina has worked to build the capacity of farmers’ organizations to invest in crop production, and to collect and market commodities. With WFP’s help, smallholder farmers can gain access to quality-oriented markets through training in quality management, storage, logistics, credit access and partnership development.

    P4P has also been a catalyst for collaboration between partners along the value chain. To ensure that farmers have a sustainable market beyond WFP, P4P links farmers’ organizations to other buyers, including the Government’s National Food Reserve (SONAGESS). P4P schemes encourage women farmers; in Burkina Faso, their participation has been particularly high.

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.