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In profile: Burkina Faso

As part of an ongoing series, we look at Burkina Faso and its progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Capital: Ouagadougou

Population: c.20 million

Burkina Faso is a land-locked sub-Saharan country in Africa. The country has a history of political coups and popular uprisings and now faces an increasing threat of jihadi attacks, with a state of emergency being issued in January 2019. They were one of five countries to establish the G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force in 2015 as a response.

Ranking 183 out of 187 in the Human Development Index, around 80% of Burkina Faso’s active population is employed in the low-income agricultural sector. Despite recent economic growth as a result of expanding gold production and an increased public investment in infrastructure, the country’s public finances deteriorated between 2016 and 2017 with the public deficit representing 7.7% of the GDP.

Progress towards the SDGS

Burkina Faso ranked 136 out of 156 countries in the 2018 SDG report, and was previously the highest ranking African country in acceleration towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. There has been success in environment-related goals, such as Climate Action and Responsible Consumption and Production, however SDGs that concern more human-centric and economic challenges are less fulfilled.

Good Health and Well-Being is seeing progress, but remains in need of significant change. Although there have been noticeable decreases in infant and maternal mortality, Burkina Faso is not meeting the SDGs target or the National Economic and Social Development Plan for maternal and child health. Malnutrition remains prevalent and incidences of stunted growth were recorded at 27.3% in 2016. Malaria is still a prominent health challenge, and is the largest factor in mortality of children under 5, although the average life expectancy has risen by ten years, from 50 in 2000 to 60 in 2016. 

The gross enrolment of children in primary education has increased by 48.7% since 2000 to 93.7% in 2017. The completion rate of primary education also has seen improvement in gender equality, with proportionate completion rates for girls and boys. The picture at secondary level, however, is very different and the completion levels for girls is currently half that of boys at only 5%.

Development challenges

Burkina Faso has few natural resources and, with a largely agriculture reliant economy, is vulnerable to irregular rainfall patterns associated with climate change. The rise in import/export costs this causes is also damaging to Burkina Faso’s economy.

The country has a long history of civil unrest and political struggle. It currently faces threat from the public sector strikes over wages and social benefits, in several economic sectors. There is also a culture of poor anti-corruption enforcement, with officials often reluctant to prosecute senior officials charged.

Terrorism continues to be a prevalent threat; in 2017, in response to continued jihadi attacks, the EU established the Sahel Alliance, to support the G5 Sahel countries, including Burkina Faso. The World Bank, African Development Bank and United Nations Development Program, alongside several European countries, also support the Alliance to aid in establishing security and stability in the Sahel countries to allow a greater chance of achieving the SDGs.