Young people with their bikes on a square in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso "Land of the Upright"

Since the early 1990s, Burkina Faso has been gradually embracing more democracy. The great tolerance shown by the people in ethnic and religious matters is typical of this country, where more than 60 ethnic groups co-exist peacefully. This is also reflected in the country's name: in translation, the terms "Burkina” and "Faso", which are taken from the two most widely spoken languages in the country, mean "Land of the Upright".

If population growth continues at the rate of almost three per cent per annum seen in recent years, Burkina Faso's population will double within the next 25 years. This presents the country with major problems in terms of ensuring food security, providing health services and education facilities for the local population, and securing water and energy supply. Economic growth can barely keep pace with population growth.

German development cooperation with Burkina Faso

Germany is one of Burkina Faso's largest bilateral donors and an important partner. Cooperation between Burkina Faso and Germany focuses on agriculture and food security, decentralisation and municipal development, and drinking water supply and sanitation. In addition, the two sides are engaged in efforts to protect children's rights.

Traffic in Ouagadougou

A fresh start for democracy and regional integration Internal link

In November 2015, presidential and parliamentary elections were held, which were deemed to have been free and fair. The presidential election was won by Roch Kaboré, party leader of the People's Movement for Progress (Mouvement du Peuple pour le Progrès, MPP).

School girl in Burkina Faso

Significant progress in the areas of health and education Internal link

Since the 1990s, Burkina Faso has made significant progress in terms of development. Maternal mortality has almost been halved, and the proportion of children attending primary school has increased significantly – from 32.5 per cent (1990) to 78.6 per cent (2018).

Worker in a cotton ginning plant in Ouagadougou

Great dependency on gold and cotton Internal link

Burkina Faso's economic performance is good by regional standards. However, since the economy lacks diversification, with gold and cotton being the main export products, the country is highly dependent on world market prices and climatic conditions.

A woman with children at a water point in Burkina Faso

Even more respect for basic rights is needed Internal link

The human rights situation has improved. In the past few years, various measures have been taken to ensure respect for human rights. Among other things, a fund for the victims of political violence was set up, and reforms in the judiciary were introduced.

Development potential


The greatest development potential for the country’s economy is in agriculture and downstream sectors. Many people work in agriculture, which accounts for about more than a fourth of gross domestic product.


The country struggles with unfavourable conditions for development. Burkina Faso is landlocked, which means high transportation costs for export industries. Rising energy costs, the country's still poor infrastructure, and a low-skilled workforce are further constraints to development.

Improving the education system and expanding infrastructure will enhance the country’s prospects of further positive development. In addition, there needs to be more legal certainty for investments in the private sector, tax revenues need to be increased, and strong banks, in particular microfinance institutions, need to be established.

Woman on a scooter in Ouagadougou

Woman on a scooter in Ouagadougou

Woman on a scooter in Ouagadougou


Most of the country's foreign exchange earnings come from the export of very few products: cotton, livestock, cashew nuts and gold. A drop in world market prices for gold and cotton thus has a significant impact on economic growth.

The elimination of subsidies for cotton producers in wealthy countries could allow cotton from Burkina Faso to compete on world markets. This could boost the economy. Within the framework of the Cotton Initiative, Burkina Faso is therefore working alongside Mali, Chad and Benin to try and overturn the subsidies that the United States, the EU and the People's Republic of China pay to their farmers.

Mining sector

In the past few years, the mining sector has become increasingly important for the country's economy. Between 2008 and 2011, gold production rose six-fold. Burkina Faso's export earnings from gold are now almost ten times as high as those from cotton.

German development cooperation with Burkina Faso

German Development Minister Gerd Müller at a meeting with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the President of Burkina Faso, Berlin, February 21, 2019

German Development Minister Gerd Müller at a meeting with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the President of Burkina Faso, Berlin, February 21, 2019

German Development Minister Gerd Müller at a meeting with Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the President of Burkina Faso, Berlin, February 21, 2019

Burkina Faso is one of the development partners with which Germany cooperates closely on the basis of intergovernmental agreements. Germany is one of Burkina Faso's largest bilateral donors and an important partner. International cooperation funds are existentially important for Burkina Faso. Grants and foreign loans together account for about 70 per cent of the national budget.

In July 2017, Germany committed 102.2 million euros for bilateral development cooperation. In 2018, an interim commitment of 38 million euros was made. The next government negotiations are planned for 2020.

Three priority areas of cooperation have been agreed with the government of Burkina Faso. They complement the engagement of other donors in the country:

  • Agriculture and food security
  • Decentralisation and municipal development
  • Drinking water and sanitation

Germany is also involved in activities to promote children's rights. These priorities have been aligned with the national poverty reduction and growth strategy (Plan national de développement économique et social, PNDES) for 2016 to 2020.

Market scene in Burkina Faso: sale of tomatoes

Market-oriented production and processing Internal link

Agriculture plays an important part in feeding the population and reducing poverty in Burkina Faso. With German support, the government of Burkina Faso has drawn up a strategy for rural development. This strategy forms the framework for development cooperation between Burkina Faso and Germany.

A woman working on a laptop in Burkina Faso

Promoting participation of all groups within society Internal link

Burkina Faso's Constitution of 1991 enshrines decentralisation as part of the process of democratic reform. In 2006, a comprehensive decentralisation process was launched. Germany is supporting the development of democratically legitimate local government units.

Training for plumbers in the vocational training centre of the national water agency in Burkina Faso

Better infrastructure for the water sector Internal link

Water supply systems in Burkina Faso are not adequate to provide the population with clean drinking water. In future, this situation will become worse as groundwater and surface water resources dwindle.

Primary schoolgirl in a school in Dano, Burkina Faso

Improving access to basic education Internal link

In Burkina Faso, protecting vulnerable population groups, which include children and socially disadvantaged youth, is of particular importance. Although the legal framework is quite good overall, children’s rights are often abused and violated.