Burkina Faso is a country in West Africa with a population of over 20 million. It is among the poorest countries in the world, with an extremely low per capita income. Its industrial base is rather weak and the vast majority of the country's labour force works in agriculture. Many people rely on farming to produce their own food. However, recurring drought makes this difficult and leads to famine. Flooding has destroyed houses and infrastructure in the past, meaning that many people live in very poor conditions. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS and other public health challenges remain widespread. Children growing up in these circumstances are in need of support.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Burkina Faso since 1997.
In recent years, massive flooding forced thousands of Burkinabe to leave their homes. More than 50,000 people lost everything in the floods and had to live in tents and shacks across the country. Hundreds of schools and a number of hospitals were destroyed by the floods. At the same time, the country is frequently hit by droughts. This has a strong impact on the living conditions of tens of thousands of Burkinabe. Many people rely on farming to produce their own food, but drought means that they are at risk of undernutrition and rely on food aid. This is particularly problematic for children. In fact, around 3 in 10 children do not grow healthily as a result..
Many Burkinabe do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. This could explain the high rate of infectious diseases in the country. HIV/AIDS is also a major public health concern, as around 100,000 people in the country live with the virus. Although the government has included the problem in its development plan, thousands of people affected by the virus remain without access to medical care. Children and young people are also affected. Children lose their parents to the virus and are left to fend for themselves.
Burkina Faso continues to experience difficult economic conditions. Although the situation has improved over recent years, around 40% of the population still lives in poverty and nearly 80% is without a formal job. In spite of economic growth, high levels of poverty have in fact intensified in some areas of the country. Rural areas are more affected by extreme poverty - the so-called "rural poor" amount to six million, including many children. Employment is often limited to the informal sector, where jobs are not secure.