Social situation Significant progress in the areas of health and education

Since the 1990s, Burkina Faso has made significant progress in terms of development. The proportion of children attending primary school has risen significantly, from 32.5 per cent (1990) to 92.6 per cent (2020). The share of girls going to school has risen particularly strongly

School girl in Burkina Faso

School girl in Burkina Faso

School girl in Burkina Faso

The literacy level has improved accordingly: approximately 60 per cent of people aged 15 or over still lack basic reading and writing skills. In the age group of 15 to 24 year olds, that figure has fallen to around 40 per cent.

Maternal mortality has been reduced significantly and progress has also been made in 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 88 when last measured (in 2019). Nevertheless, this mortality rate is still very high. The reduction in the rate of HIV infections, from two per cent (in 2000) to 0.7 per cent (in 2020) among 15-to-49-year-olds, has been a major achievement. Life expectancy in Burkina Faso is 62 years.

Huge challenges

Despite these positive developments, Burkina Faso remains one the world's least developed countries (LDCs). On the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), the country is ranked 184th out of 191 countries. Around 40 per cent of its roughly 20 million people are living below the national poverty line. Moreover, most of Burkina Faso's population make a living from agriculture and are therefore particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

Population growth

Burkina Faso's population is growing by almost three per cent a year. More than 40 per cent of the population are under the age of 15. If population growth does not slow, by 2050 the population of Burkina Faso will probably be more than double what it is 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 around 300,000 new jobs every year.

Humanitarian crisis

The security situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated steadily in recent years. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), nearly 1.5 million people have been internally displaced from the northern and eastern regions to other parts of the country (as at November 2021). In the regions affected by crisis, numerous health centres and schools have had to close. The closing of the latter has meant that more than 300,000 children and youths have not been able to attend school.

Furthermore, the food situation in Burkina Faso is critical. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), more than 2.8 million people were affected by food insecurity in the summer of 2021. Twenty-five per cent of children under the age of five are chronically undernourished. Rises in food prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated what was already a strained situation.