Our work in Burkina Faso
At a glance
Burkina Faso, which translates as "land of honest men", is a landlocked West African country with a largely tropical climate. It is surrounded by the nations of Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
The country achieved independence from France on August 5, 1960, and although French is the official language, 90% of the population speaks 71 languages from the Sudanic family. An ethnically diverse state, there are more than 60 different ethnic groups in the country, each one with its particular social and cultural characteristics. The main group is the Mossi.
Since 1998 Burkina Faso has been one of the few countries which has agreed to give permanent residency to those refugees who could no longer stay in other African countries. In the last decade thousands of asylum seekers have crossed the border from neighboring states.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest nations in the world, with few natural resources. 80% of the working population relies on agriculture, yet only 10% of the country's land area is cultivable without irrigation. Severe droughts intensive farming of export crops such as millet, peanuts and cotton have lead to desertification in many regions. The annual cost of Burkina Faso's imports is usually much higher than its earnings from exports, and the nation relies on debt servicing from other countries. The UN ranks Burkina Faso 161 out of the 169 countries on the Human Development Index.
Sightsavers in Burkina Faso
We began work in Burkina Faso in 2010, following correspondence with the Ministry of Health, who were concerned at a resurgence of river blindness in the Cascades Region. As well as supporting Mectizan® distribution to prevent the spread of this disease, we are also looking to partner with the national government to run a pilot eye care programme in this region. This will ensure primary eye care is included in primary health plans, and will eventually extend to cataract and trachoma work.
Our support will also include education: supporting schools to be fully inclusive by making sure children with disabilities can attend.
Our Burkina Faso country office opened in 2011, to allow us to expand and strengthen our activity in this country.