More than 3.5 million people in Burkina Faso are facing food insecurity. Photo: Concern Worldwide.More than 3.5 million people in Burkina Faso are facing food insecurity. Photo: Concern Worldwide.More than 3.5 million people in Burkina Faso are facing food insecurity. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

Why Concern has started working in Burkina Faso

Why Concern has started working in Burkina Faso

Conflict in Burkina Faso has displaced 1.9 million people, making it the largest and fastest growing displacement crisis in recent history.

With parts of the country considered most fragile due to political marginalisation, climate variability and climate change, the conflict and violence have resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian emergency in a country more traditionally subject to chronic food and nutritional insecurity. 

Awa's story

Awa Sawadogo (92), mother of 9 children, an internally displaced person receiving a kit at Yargho. Photo: Jean-Paul Ouedraogo / Concern Worldwide.
Awa Sawadogo (92), mother of 9 children, an internally displaced person receiving a kit at Yargho. Photo: Jean-Paul Ouedraogo / Concern Worldwide.

At 91-years-old, Awa, living in the province of Soum in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, fled conflict that took the life of her grandson Hamidou.

"When we went back to the field, we saw Hamidou's head separated from his body. They took with them his motorbike, the guns he had with him, his wallet and his phone," Awa tells us. 

A security volunteer in the area, it was in his own field that an armed group raging around Mentao beheaded Hamidou, leaving behind his family, including 7 children. Awa saw this horrific act of violence when she was taking refuge not far from their plot when the attackers took her grandson’s life. 

When leaving, the attackers informed the villagers that they would return the next day to deal with the fate of its inhabitants. Hearing this, the men of the village rushed into the wilderness. While discovering her grandson’s decapitated body lying in blood was traumatic, it was the fear of being some of the only women left in the village that forced Awa and her family to flee.

Conflict and gender

In Burkina Faso, 80% of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are women and girls. 

“In conflicts and disasters, women and girls - already burdened by wide-ranging discrimination - often face heightened vulnerability and even deeper discrimination,” says UN Human Right chief, Michelle Bachelet.

“Insecurity and displacement also fuel increased sexual and gender-based violence, as well as other crimes and human rights violations such as trafficking, child, early and forced marriages, or denial of access to sexual and reproductive health services.”

During their march, Awa's family stopped in one village.

One night, Awa and her family heard gunshots near their hut. They had taken comfort in the idea that the security forces were finally coming to their aid. But the next day, the report was bitter. There was blood around their shelter. They naturally thought it was the blood of cattle, which had also disappeared. When they realised it was the blood of slain men, the family immediately resumed their march onwards. 

Awa, her children and her great grandchildren now live in a makeshift shelter. Her rent costs 5,000 CFA francs, the equivalent of €8.11 per month.

"Despite our small daily work," she says, "we are unable to honour this rent." While her son tries to care for her, Awa adds, "We are begging and therefore very dependent."

Making ends meet

Darifa* (18) with her 10 day old daughter, Lenka*. Both live at an unofficial IDP site in the Centre North region. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Darifa* (18) with her 10 day old daughter, Lenka*. Both live at an unofficial IDP site in the Centre North region. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

Awa’s experience of conflict, with the compounding result of food insecurity, is one story amongst many.

Currently, more than 3.5 million people - roughly 20% of the population - are facing food insecurity and 25% of children under five are experiencing stunted growth.

Our newly launched emergency health and nutrition programs in Burkina Faso are designed to rebuild and transform lives because we believe in a world where everyone has access to the opportunities needed to live a long, healthy, and creative life.

Concern entered Burkina Faso in January 2021 as a response to the rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis in the country and the largest displacement in Africa.

The influx of IDPs has resulted in a significant increase in the number of consultations at health centers, which lack capacity to support amidst a lack of supplies to provide a minimum package of services, and insufficient Water, Sanitation and Hygiene infrastructure. 

Our impact in 2021

17.8 M icon
17.8 M

people reached through our emergency response

11.4 M icon
11.4 M

people reached through our health interventions

5.2 M icon
5.2 M

people reached through our livelihoods programmes

African child holding onto older sister

Horn of Africa Emergency Appeal

  • Millions of people ib the brink of starvation

  • Estimated that a person is dying of hunger every 48 seconds across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia

  • 5.7 million children are facing starvation

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