Young people with their bikes on a square in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso Serious crisis in the “Land of the Upright”

At present, Burkina Faso is going through a deep constitutional crisis: The security situation has deteriorated in recent years, with almost two million internally displaced persons within the country. The United Nations estimates that, this year, 4.7 million of the country's approximately 22 million people will be dependent on humanitarian aid. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. The constitutional crisis is therefore hitting the country especially hard.

Straight to
Worker in a cotton ginning plant in Ouagadougou
The military coup of 30 September 2022 was the second in eight months. After the first coup in early 2022, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) had already reviewed and adapted its cooperation with the West African country. Germany's development cooperation in Burkina Faso takes place mainly at community level and is focused on basic needs such as food security, water and sanitation. This made it possible to continue the projects even after the two military coups in 2022.

Burkina Faso is traditionally characterised by great tolerance in ethnic and religious matters between the over 60 ethnic groups. The terms “Burkina” and “Faso” are taken from the two most widely spoken languages in the country; together they translate as “Land of the upright people”.

Large parts of the country no longer under government control

When in 2014, the then President, Blaise Compaoré, was ousted after 27 years in office, there were high hopes that the country would become more democratic. The recent military takeover has dashed these hopes for the moment. 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 institutions such as police stations and local authorities but also schools and churches. The government has lost all control over more than 40 per cent of the country.

In some regions, the security situation and climate change are making an already precarious food situation very much worse. As a result of climate change, extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rains are becoming more frequent, resulting in degraded soils and poorer harvests. Rural communities in particular, who are generally engaged in subsistence farming, 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 supply. The United Nations estimates that about 3.5 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. It has been implementing 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 are focused on assisting people as directly as possible.

Government negotiations between the two countries last took place in September 2020; Germany committed funds amounting to 71.45 million euros to Burkina Faso. Of that amount, 21.7 million euros was earmarked for projects under the Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”. In 2022, Germany made a commitment in written form of 26 million euros for Financial Cooperation. In view of the instability in the country, commitments planned for Technical Cooperation were postponed until 2023. The next government negotiations are scheduled for 2024.

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

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

Burkina Faso is a focus country of the BMZ's transitional development assistance; measures are integrated into activities 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 support ranges from providing food for school meals to rehabilitating agricultural land.

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 setting up school networks, community-based social services and education and training programmes, the aim is to help improve their future prospects. Awareness-raising programmes are 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. German development cooperation has been actively involved in this area for many years and has made a major contribution to sustainably increasing production. Through the BMZ’s Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”, it has been possible to increase activities in this area.

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. 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, some four million people there still have no access to clean drinking water and 17.4 million people have no access to adequate sanitation facilities. Germany's efforts are geared towards improving the living conditions and health situation of the people, in particular for women and girls.

Current situation

Political situation
Traffic in Ouagadougou
Social situation
Transport during a flooding in Burkina Faso
Economic situation
Worker in a cotton ginning plant in Ouagadougou
Human rights
A community health worker in the village of Djomga in Dori, northeastern Burkina Faso, talks about maternal and child health and proper hygiene.

As at: 20/04/2023