Young people with their bikes on a square in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso Forgotten crisis in the Sahel

Burkina Faso is currently going through a deep constitutional crisis: the security situation has deteriorated massively in the last few years. There are more than two million people who have been internally displaced by the continuing violence. The United Nations estimates that this year 6.3 million of the country’s approximately 23 million people will be dependent on emergency humanitarian aid. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world and its situation has put the country at the top of the list of “most neglected crises”.

The military coup that took place on 30 September 2022 was the second coup in eight months. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had already reviewed and adapted its cooperation with the West African country after the first coup in early 2022.

This cooperation now focuses on meeting people’s basic needs – such as food security, and water and sanitation.

Large parts of the country no longer under government control

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Worker in a cotton ginning plant in Ouagadougou

When the then president Blaise Compaoré was ousted in 2014 – after 27 years in office – there were high hopes that the country would become more democratic. These hopes were dashed by the military takeover. The justification given for both coups was the steadily deteriorating security situation.

For about six years, the number of terrorist attacks by Islamist groups has been continuously increasing, affecting more and more parts of the country. Targets include not only government facilities like police stations and local government offices but also schools and churches. The government has lost control of more than 40 per cent of the country. In the Global Terrorism Index (External link) (GTI), which assesses the impacts of terrorism in 163 countries, Burkina Faso was in second place in 2023.

The security situation and climate change are dramatically exacerbating the already precarious food situation in some regions. Extreme weather, such as heat, drought and heavy rain, is becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, leading to degraded soils and poorer harvests. People in rural communities in particular, most of them subsistence farmers, are losing their livelihoods. The difficult security situation has also meant that fields cannot be worked and that cities have been cut off from food supplies. The United Nations estimates that about 2.3 million people in Burkina Faso have been left without reliable access to food.


German development cooperation with Burkina Faso

Germany is one of Burkina Faso’s top five bilateral donors, having been actively engaged in projects in the country since the 1960s, and is valued as a reliable, trusted partner. Cooperation activities are currently being carried out at the community level and because of the political situation the focus is on assisting people as directly as possible.

The last government negotiations between the two countries took place in September 2020; at that time Germany committed funds amounting to 71.45 million euros. Of that amount, 21.7 million euros was earmarked for projects under the Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”. In 2022 and 2023, a total of 43.2 million euros for Technical Cooperation and Financial Cooperation was committed in writing. In 2024 as well, only government consultations are envisaged and commitments will be made afterwards in writing.

Development cooperation between Germany and Burkina Faso focuses on the following three core areas:

  • Transformation of agricultural and food systems
    Areas of intervention: agriculture, rural development
  • Peaceful and inclusive societies
    Areas of intervention: good governance, peacebuilding and conflict prevention
  • Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth
    Area of intervention: water

Transitional development assistance measures are embedded in the core areas. Together with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the BMZ developed the Sahel Resilience Initiative to bring about lasting improvements in the food and income situations of people in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Chad. The assistance provided under the initiative includes support for restoring agricultural land and ensuring that schools are supplied with food.

The BMZ is also engaged in promoting children’s and young people’s rights in Burkina Faso. The aim is to protect socially disadvantaged children and young people against the worst forms of child labour, child trafficking and gender-based violence. By building and expanding school networks, community-based social services and education and training programmes, their future prospects are to be improved. Awareness-raising programmes are intended to help reduce the number of unwanted early pregnancies.

Market scene in Burkina Faso: sale of tomatoes

Core area “Transformation of agriculture and food systems” Making agricultural production market-oriented and increasing incomes in rural areas Internal link

Agriculture has a key role to play in providing food security and reducing poverty in Burkina Faso. There has been active German development cooperation involvement in this area for many years and major contributions have been made towards sustainably increasing production.

A woman working on a laptop in Burkina Faso

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Political participation and citizen-focused municipalities Internal link

In Burkina Faso, local authorities play an important role in promoting social cohesion – particularly given the conflicts in the country. They are meant to provide opportunities for political participation, create conducive business environments and offer citizen-focused public services for the various population groups. The BMZ is helping local authorities to carry out the tasks for which they are responsible.

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

Core area “Conserving nature and natural resources, protecting life on Earth” Improved infrastructure in water supply and sanitation Internal link

Water supply and sanitation infrastructure in Burkina Faso has been considerably improved over the last few years. Nevertheless, around half of the population still has no access to clean drinking water and around 20 million people have no access to adequate sanitation. Germany’s efforts are geared towards improving the living conditions and health situation of the people, in particular for women and girls.

Current situation

As at: 15/02/2024