November 25, 2022
Universal Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women
The situation in Burkina Faso is dire, complex, and in serious need of humanitarian aid from the global community. Conflict, famine, and mass-displacement are key issues to address when discussing the state of Burkina Faso.
Violence has severely escalated in 2022, already surpassing the number of violent attacks that took place in all of 2021. This has left nearly 1 in 10 people in Burkina Faso forcibly displaced from their homes. In many situations, more are forced to flee not from their cities of origin, but from places where they had previously taken refuge. Since the conflict began 4 years ago, Burkina Faso remains one of the 3 fastest growing displacement crises in the world. Ousmane, 15, is one of many children facing this daunting uncertainty:
I have been displaced twice. It all started the day armed men came to my village and told us to follow their instructions or leave. My parents and I first took refuge in a nearby town. Unfortunately, soon after they came there and burned down schools, markets and shops. We were forced to flee, again.
The conflict has also had a detrimental impact on the Burkina Faso healthcare sector, forcing 179 health centers to close, leaving more than 2 million people without access to health and nutritional care. The insecurity in the country has also impacted food security. In March 2022, it was estimated that 3.45 million will be severely food insecure and over 630,000 on the brink of famine. Climate change, compounded with conflict both in Burkina Faso and Ukraine, has badly impacted food security. Along with food, access to clean water is also at risk, with 2.5 million struggling without it.
These communities are experiencing an exceptionally difficult lean season due to the food crisis resulting, in part, from last year’s catastrophic farming season. The effects of climate change, massive displacement and the increase in the global cost of grain products affect more than 3.4 million Burkinabé – Oxfam Country Director Omer Kabore.
Active in Burkina Faso since 2006, Doctors of the World (DotW) has continued to provide aid as this humanitarian crisis unfolded. Our team has provided support through comprehensive, free, quality care for children under 5 years of age with severe malnutrition in health centers and regional hospitals in the Sahel and Center-North. They further assist state health personnel in outpatient care and in data collection and analysis, and management of referrals, in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality.
Another key focus point is the training of health personnel, the maintenance of medical and technical equipment in health centers. DotW also works to provide primary health care, including mental health care for survivors of gender-based violence, to the most vulnerable people in the Sahel region and in the neighboring North-Central region.
To meet the needs of the population, in 2020 Doctors of the World opened a humanitarian emergency program in Kongoussi, in the center-north of Burkina Faso, where there is a shortage of care. This program consists of mobile clinics that provide free primary healthcare, mental health and psychosocial support, as well as prevention and management of Gender-based Violence (GBV). Our efforts also focus on strengthening individual and community empowerment in terms of access to health rights. In 2021, DotW provided 103,764 medical consultations and treated 950 severely acute malnourished children.
To help address this growing humanitarian crisis, Doctors of the World has received funding from the European Union this year of 800,000 euros, although the response of the international community is insufficient to meet the humanitarian needs from the country. It is crucial that the international community come to support Burkina Faso in their time of need. We must stand in support of Burkinabé communities, and work with them to resolve this crisis as quickly as possible.
Burkina Faso needs the support of the international community. Despite the multitude of humanitarian crises ongoing in Burkina Faso, the funding available to help the population is only 15% of the budget needed for 2022. The UN estimates that there is a deficit of 92.6 million dollars to meet the minimum essential humanitarian actions needed.
Although the people of Burkinabé have to deal with immense challenges in providing shelter, water, healthcare and education, among other essential services, many communities have come together to support each other. Their resilience and their ability to respond as a community is a lesson that we should all take to heart. Dealing with the many global crises at hand, the international community must learn to work together and help each other in times of need. We can begin by supporting these local communities in Burkina Faso and working alongside them to create a sustainable, long-term solution.
Hosting communities across the country have shown remarkable solidarity by welcoming tens of thousands of displaced people, opening their homes and sharing their food for months, if not years. The international community’s efforts to provide life-saving assistance must match the effort these people are making. – Antoine Sanon, World Vision
Jose Luis Rod