At the heart of the Sahel region, Burkina Faso is among the 10 poorest countries in the world. With a rapidly growing population and 80% of its 18.1 million inhabitants reliant on drought-prone subsistence farming, an increasing number of families are failing to protect themselves from severe hunger, malnutrition and illness. Close to 150 000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
Half of the Burkinabe population lives in extreme poverty with little access to health and basic services. Structural food insecurity is exacerbated by high food prices and the recurrent indebtedness of vulnerable families. During the 2017 lean season, 1.7 million people are estimated to be under stress and 257 000 in a situation of food crisis. Oudalan province is under pressure but it could turn into a crisis phase: more than 20% of households currently adopt livelihood stress strategies and their nutritional situation is a concern. The actual permanent intimidations and threats of terrorist groups on the population in the province of Soum has strongly impacted the region of Soum were around 5000 people have been displaced and food prices have increased strongly.
Households’ access rate to drinking water is quite low (64.73%), which negatively impacts food consumption and nutritional condition of households.
In addition, food availability for livestock is broadly low due to the structural deficits of natural fodder in several regions where the use of agro-industrial by-products (SPAI) cannot compensate.
Moreover, the security situation in the northern part of the country – bordering conflict-ridden Mali - could disrupt some of the households’ livelihood activities, as well as food security stability.
Since 2007, the European Union has allocated around €170 million in humanitarian aid in Burkina Faso. In 2017, the European Commission will continue to support food and nutritional assistance as well as aid to Malian refugees, including reinforcement of education in emergencies. In addition, a new programme has been launched for the Eastern region and the Sahel to address disaster risk reduction.
The EU has intensified the care of children suffering from severe malnutrition, with more than 100 000 children treated in 2016. Beyond curative care, EU humanitarian funding also finances activities to prevent malnutrition through community-based screening, social prevention activities and such.
Cash transfers, food assistance and subsidised healthcare, which encourages the early detection and treatment of malnutrition and other diseases, have led to a substantial reduction in the vulnerability of families. The European Commission and its partners continue to advocate these interventions in the government’s policies and priorities. The aim is to reduce the high mortality rate of children and mothers, and improve local people’s resilience so that the effects of future crises are mitigated.
In an effort to strengthen people's resilience and stop the endless cycle of food crises, the European Commission is making strides in linking humanitarian emergency assistance with development aid. The international donor community has to support the mainstreaming of resilience building measures, such as safety nets and free healthcare, as part of a social protection package for the most vulnerable.
Access to free health care and support to nutritional treatment of severe acute malnourished children has become a clear part of development aid interventions. The Commission was a driving force behind the creation of the Global Alliance for Resilience Building (AGIR), which brings together 17 West African countries, donors and the aid community in a joint effort to end hunger by 2032.