Characterised by semi-arid savannah and forests, Burkina Faso is one of the world’s poorest countries. Around 45 percent of its rapidly growing population live on less than US$1.25 a day. Access to sanitation and electricity is poor, while insufficient investment in education and infrastructure make any development gains hard to maintain.
Climate change, landscape degradation and slow economic development have all taken their toll on food security in Burkina Faso, resulting in chronically high rates of food insecurity and undernutrition. Mining and other human activities are causing rapid deforestation, with severe cycles of drought and flooding exacerbating the situation. Each new natural disaster leads to food scarcity and inflated prices, and a Malian refugee population of 30,000 places further strain on the country’s limited resources.
A 2015 nutrition survey reveals that 10.4 percent of children under five suffer global acute malnutrition, with 30.2 percent affected by stunting, or low height for their age. Gender equality is low, with social and cultural norms limiting women’s access to basic services and land. Just 0.9 percent of women over 25 have at least some secondary education, compared with 3.2 percent of men, which is still very low. Literacy rates are correspondingly low, at just 36 percent among those over the age of 15.
The World Food Programme (WFP) runs several programmes to combat malnutrition in Burkina Faso, at the same time as encouraging educational enrolment and enhancing farmers’ resilience to natural disasters and market fluctuations. WFP also provides monthly food distributions via rations and cash transfers to the country’s Malian refugee population.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Burkina Faso
To help those affected by the 2012 Sahel food crisis, WFP supports the government by providing treatment for moderate acute malnutrition and distributing rations to help prevent it during the lean season. WFP is also working to combat high stunting rates in children under two, as well as providing food and nutrition assistance to other vulnerable groups, including orphans and HIV patients.
WFP provides daily breakfast and lunch to school children in the Sahel region, giving take-home rations to girls to encourage gender equality in school attendance. School meals include fresh, locally-produced yogurt.
WFP supports farmers’ organizations to invest in crop production and gain access to quality markets. This includes linking farmers’ organizations with buyers, including the Government’s National Food Reserve. WFP provides training in aspects such as storage, logistics and partnership development, as well as encouraging women farmers. In six regions, WFP supports the creation of agricultural assets, including restoring degraded land.