In the regions affected by crisis, numerous health centres and schools have had to close, which has meant that more than one million children and youths have not been able to attend school (as at January 2023).
Furthermore, the food situation in Burkina Faso is critical. According to the United Nations, about 3.5 million people were affected by food insecurity at the start of 2023. One in five young children are chronically undernourished. Rises in food prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated what was already a precarious situation. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 4.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Development progress under threat
Since the 1990s, Burkina Faso has made significant progress in terms of development, although this is now threatened by the protracted crises in the country. For example, the proportion of children attending primary school has risen significantly, in particular the share of girls going to school. The literacy level has improved accordingly: Whilst 54 per cent of the total population over the age of 15 still lack basic reading and writing skills, that figure has fallen to 35 per cent in the age group of 15-to 24-year-olds.
Maternal mortality has been reduced significantly and progress has also been made on bringing child mortality figures down. Child mortality among the under-fives has been declining steadily since 1990, from 200 per 1,000 live births to 83 when last measured (in 2021). Nevertheless, the rate is still very high. The reduction in the rate of HIV infections, from 2.1 per cent (in 2000) to 0.6 per cent (in 2021) among 15-to 49-year-olds, has been a major achievement. Life expectancy increased from 51 years in 2000 to 60 years in 2020.
Burkina Faso is one of the world's least developed countries (LDCs). On the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), the country was ranked 184th out of 191 countries. More than 40 per cent of its roughly 22 million people are living below the national poverty line. Most people make their living from agriculture and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.
Burkina Faso's population is growing by almost three per cent a year. More than 40 per cent are under the age of 15. If population growth does not slow, by 2050 there will be nearly twice as many people living in Burkina Faso as there are today. In order to ensure universal access to basic education and to provide income opportunities for the young generation, the country would need to invest massively in the construction of schools and the training of teachers and create several hundred thousand new jobs every year.