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    AccueilNewsBurkina Faso – food, water and health care are scarce

    Burkina Faso – food, water and health care are scarce

    Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught up in an ongoing spiral of violence that has displaced unprecedented numbers of people, forcing them to flee to other areas of the country or to neighbouring countries. Many people have lost their lives, communities have been made even more vulnerable, and basic facilities –¬ such as schools, health-care centres and markets – have been forced to close down because of the security situation.

    On 31 March 2023, the National Council for Emergency Aid and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) reported that there were more than 2 million internally displaced people in the country, including over 1 million children. Burkina Faso is now one of the countries with the fastest-growing number of internally displaced people in the world.

    Millions of people face food insecurity

    The worsening security situation has made communities already grappling with drought and climate change even more vulnerable. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused shortages of raw materials and pushed up food prices around the world, with dramatic consequences for communities in the Sahel region.

    According to the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan, 3.5 million people in Burkina Faso require food aid, and 1.3 million children and pregnant and breast-feeding women need emergency nutrition support.

    Providing food aid to the most vulnerable

    As a small team of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers, we went from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to Fada N’Gourma, which we will refer to simply as “Fada”, to help the Burkinabe Red Cross Society hand out food rations and other basic supplies to vulnerable people in Gourma Province. When we arrived in Fada, we went straight to the ICRC’s sub-delegation, which is located in Sector 1 – an area of the town with one of the highest numbers of internally displaced people. On the way, we came across chickens, goats and sheep. There were also many women and children sitting on the sides of the roads, which are mainly dirt tracks. But at the same time, many road works are actually in progress, with piles of gravel indicating that the roads will soon be paved. We also saw large numbers of tents, and housing being built – Fada is expanding to make room for all the displaced people.

    After that, we set off for another part of the city to distribute food rations and basic supplies to 500 displaced and local families, selected because they are most likely to experience food insecurity. When we arrived, the distribution had already begun. Burkinabe Red Cross staff and volunteers were using carts to help the families transport the food to their motorbikes and bicycles, their main means of transport. Each family receives 50 kg of millet, 25 kg of rice, 20 kg of beans and 10 litres of oil to help them through the lean season.*

    *The lean season is the period before the next harvest and after the grain from the previous harvest has been used up. The granaries are empty, and the fields have to be prepared to ensure that the next harvest is plentiful. Food is in short supply, and grain prices often rise sharply. The length of the lean season varies from one year to the next, but in Sahel countries it usually lasts for three months, from June to August.

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