Burkina Faso
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) on Burkina Faso explains economic growth and persistence. The government intends to strengthen the foundations of macroeconomic and financial stability, and enhance competitiveness in promising sectors. Success in meeting the expected objectives of economic growth hinges on the adoption of a competitive strategy for the national economy and a refocusing of economic policies toward better-targeted actions to guarantee a better impact on beneficiary populations. Regarding improvements to the participatory process, actions were undertaken to deepen dialogue and strengthen the coordination of interventions.


The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) on Burkina Faso explains economic growth and persistence. The government intends to strengthen the foundations of macroeconomic and financial stability, and enhance competitiveness in promising sectors. Success in meeting the expected objectives of economic growth hinges on the adoption of a competitive strategy for the national economy and a refocusing of economic policies toward better-targeted actions to guarantee a better impact on beneficiary populations. Regarding improvements to the participatory process, actions were undertaken to deepen dialogue and strengthen the coordination of interventions.


Burkina Faso has, since 1991, espoused a market economy founded on the principles of free enterprise. To this end, the Government has, with the support of the international financial community, carried out major economic and structural reforms aimed at creating the conditions for promoting private initiative and achieving sustainable growth that substantially exceeds the rate of population growth. After more than a decade of uninterrupted adjustment efforts (1991–2002), the national economy grew at an average rate of 5 percent a year in real terms, while population growth registered 2.4 percent a year.

During the same decade, growth targets were not met in 1993 (-1.5 percent) and 2000 (1.6 percent) owing to adverse weather conditions and to the sociopolitical crises experienced in the subregion. Consequently, for the 1990–1994 period economic growth averaged 3.3 percent a year in real terms. The 1995–1999 period, thanks to the effects of the devaluation and more favorable climatic conditions, was characterized by a more sustained growth rate averaging 7.1 percent a year; as compared to this period, in the period during which the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2000–2002) was implemented, growth slowed to an average of 4.3 percent a year. All these factors temporarily limited the impact of the reforms during 1991–2002, despite a growth rate (5 percent) that was 1.7 percentage points higher than that for 1981–1990 (3.3 percent).

Despite such notable macroeconomic progress, the national economy continues to be handicapped by its weak capacity to respond promptly and vigorously to exogenous shocks, this owing to certain intrinsic constraints and limitations that should be overcome on an urgent basis. These include (i) the weakness of national capacities, in particular of human capital; (ii) the inadequacy of economic development infrastructures; and (iii) governance problems.


All in all, the growth pattern was irregular for the period as a whole. Despite the good levels of growth recorded by the Burkinabè economy, the results of the three priority surveys conducted by the Government in 1994, 1998, and 2003 describe a worsening incidence of poverty. Based on an absolute poverty threshold estimated at CFAF 82,672 in 2003 as compared to CFAF 72,690 per person and per year in 1998, the proportion of the poor increased from 45.3 percent to 46.4 percent, an increase of 1.1 percentage point. By comparison with 1994, the incidence of poverty increased overall by 2 percentage points (in 1994, it was estimated at 44.5 percent on the basis of a threshold of CFAF 41,099 per adult per year). The indicators relating to the seriousness of poverty (its depth and severity) also rose slightly, indicating that the poor have fallen farther behind the poverty threshold. As regards the measurement of poverty, it is important to stress that, on the basis of sizable studies conducted by the World Bank on methodological aspects, a number of countries (Madagascar, Senegal, Cape Verde, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Russia) have revised their poverty statistics in order to produce data that are comparable over time. Burkina Faso is appreciative of these new methodological gains and will endeavor to make the best possible use of them (see Box Error! Not a valid link.).

The results of Burkina Faso’s third survey on household living conditions confirm the trend toward the pauperization of urban dwellers. Indeed, the incidence of urban poverty practically doubled between 1994 and 2003, rising from 10.4 percent to 19.9 percent. However, poverty remains a rural phenomenon, and the contribution of rural areas, while declining, remains sizable: 92.2 percent in 2003 as compared to 96.2 percent in 1994. This poverty situation, which affects nearly half the population, explains the weakness of the level of human development in the country.

The subtleties of an comparable indicator of well-being

In the desire to assist countries in constantly improving the methodology used for surveys of household living conditions with a view to permitting reliable comparisons over time, the World Bank has initiated an intensive review process the results of which have already enabled a number of countries to revise their respective overall poverty values.

For the case of Burkina Faso, the process consisted in identifying a new indicator of well-being (real per capita consumption at constant June 2003 prices) covering only those products that are listed in the same manner in the priority surveys of 1998 and 2003. Use of this subset results in the production of a partial indicator of food consumption that covers 84 percent of food consumption and 88 percent of total declared consumption in 2003. The coverage of the partial indicator is broader in 1998 (92 percent of food consumption and 93 percent of total declared consumption); this situation in all likelihood suggests that the 1998 questionnaire, all other things being equal, recorded relatively fewer consumed products than in 2003.

After performing operations to standardize household consumption as annual consumption and making adjustments to neutralize special or time differences in the cost of living, the overall comparable value of consumption for 1998 and 2003 was determined. The poverty threshold is determined endogenously on the basis of data from the 2003 survey on the overall value of per capita consumption in order to obtain the same numerical index of poverty as the index estimated by the INSD using the technique of a questionnaire on basic indicators of well-being and the total overall value of consumption. A poverty threshold of CFAF 72,110 at June 2003 prices in Ouagadougou corresponds to the numerical index of 46.4 percent given by the INSD for 2003 (INSD 2004).

On this new basis, there would appear to be a substantial reduction in poverty in Burkina Faso between 1998 and 2003, but without notable changes in respect of inequality. According to the estimates prepared, the numerical index of poverty declined from 54.6 percent in 1998 to 46.4 percent in 2003, a reduction of about 8 percentage points. The reduction in poverty was more pronounced in the rural regions, where the numerical index dropped from 61.1 percent in 1998 to 52.4 percent in 2003. The decrease was clearly more modest in the urban areas and is not statistically significant. Inequality remained unchanged between the two surveys (Gini index of 0.444), and is always more pronounced in urban areas (0.484) than in rural areas (0.376).

These findings more clearly demonstrate the effectiveness and sound performance of the policies implemented in recent years, from the time of the rebound in economic activity, and show the strong link between such growth and poverty reduction.

Of course, one could criticize the modification of the weights as regards living standards (the reduction of the basket of goods to a subset representing 88 percent of that basket probably entails a redefinition of the weights in evaluating the standard of living), but inasmuch as the process is carried out as part of improving the methodology for improving data comparability, it should be taken advantage of and, as necessary, taken into account in future research.

Furthermore, it should be noted that, quite apart from the limits in the comparability of the data from the two surveys and from this apparent methodological controversy, it is evident that currently nearly half the population of Burkina Faso lacks sufficient monetary income to afford a minimally decent existence.

Promotion of the basic social sectors (basic education and basic health, including reproductive health, clean drinking water, nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation) has always been the cornerstone of Burkina Faso’s development strategy. Indeed, some 16 to 19 percent of national resources and official development assistance are devoted to these services. However, the country continues to suffer from a low level of human capital development which limits labor productivity, in particular in the agricultural sector, the source of jobs and incomes for nearly 80 percent of the labor force.

The gross enrollment ratio in primary school was 47.5 percent at the start of the 2002/2003 school year, as compared to 42.7 percent in 2000/2001. The gross enrollment ratio of girls was 41 percent as compared to 36.2 percent. While up slightly, the ratio is still one of the lowest in the subregion. Moreover, this rate masks considerable regional disparities and is an indicator of the very ineffectiveness of the educational system. The net enrollment ratio in primary school observed in 2003 (33.8 percent) has held steady at a level identical to that for 1994 (33.7 percent) according to the Burkina Faso Survey of Household Living Conditions (EBCVM). The same holds true as regards the literacy rate, which increased from 18.9 percent in 1994 to 32.25 percent in 2003, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy Training.

With respect to health issues, the morbidity and mortality rates remain high but steadily declining. Indeed, according to the findings of the latest demographic and health survey (EDS III) conducted in 2003, the risks of infant, child, and combined infant-child mortality have declined considerably, from 105.3 per thousand, 127.1 per thousand, and 219.1 per thousand, respectively, in 1999, to 83 per thousand, 111 per thousand, and 184 per thousand, respectively, in 2003. Maternal mortality is 484 per 100,000 live births, according to the demographic and health survey of 1998. This situation is attributable to infectious and parasitic diseases and to the increase in HIV infection. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has become a major public health problem and, in particular, a development problem, as it undercuts productive capacities in all sectors. In 2002, there were nearly 250,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, over half of whom were women. The prevalence of HIV infection in the population in the 15–49 age group, most of it in the workforce, is in constant decline (from 7.17 percent in 1997 to 6.5 percent in 2001 and 4.2 percent in 2002, according to WHO/UNAIDS estimates). The results of the latest demographic and health survey (EDS 2003) describe a considerably improved situation: the seroprevalence rate is 1.9 percent. Burkina Faso has made significant efforts that are bearing fruit thanks to the high level of political commitment to combat this pandemic.

Overall, the nutritional needs of the population are not being met satisfactorily. The level of coverage of nutritional requirements remains below the required standard of 2,500 calories per day. Beyond the issue of food availability, which is not permanent, food insecurity is explained by the pervasive poverty, the geographic dispersion of production, the country’s landlocked location, and inadequate market flexibility and operation. Children and women are the most exposed: 44.5 percent of children 5 and under suffer from stunted growth, and 13 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from chronic malnutrition.

There have been improvements as regards access to clean drinking water. According to the results of the Burkina Faso Survey on Household Living Conditions conducted in 2003, the proportion of households using tubewells as their water source increased from 31 percent in 1998 to 40.4 percent in 2003, for all residential environments taken together, and from 37.9 percent to 48.8 percent for rural areas. However, this is still insufficient when it comes to covering all the needs of the urban and rural populations. It is in rural areas, however, where the problem of obtaining supplies of clean drinking water is most acute. Indeed, in 2003, 5.3 percent of rural households still consume water from rivers and other watercourses. In contrast, in urban areas 77.4 percent of households use running water.

Finally, while women represent about 52 percent of the total population, they remain insufficiently involved in the activities of national public life owing to sociocultural impediments. In 2003, no more than 32 percent of all Burkina Faso nationals over the age of 15 knew how to read and write in any language; the majority of the literate are men, and women lag far behind them. In carrying out their social function of childbearing, women receive very little assistance. In 1998, only 32 percent of childbirths were attended by qualified health professionals, 58 percent of pregnant women benefited from prenatal consultations, and the prevalence of contraceptive use, while increasing, remains low (10.2 percent in 1998 rising to 28 percent in 2003). It goes without saying that these statistics mask enormous disparities between the more affluent urban areas and the rural areas.

Such a situation, characterized by poor human development and mass poverty, constitutes a grave threat to social cohesion and to any initiative aimed at sustainable development. When the Government of Burkina Faso, with participation from the private sector, civil society, and technical and financial partners, prepared a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in 2000, its aims included demonstrating its strong desire to confront this phenomenon, which is a true political challenge, and making available to all development stakeholders a tool for ensuring policy cohesiveness and the coordination of official development assistance.

The results of three years of implementation of the poverty reduction strategy have been mixed. This is confirmed by the findings of the Burkina Faso Survey on Household Living Conditions. A look back over the past two decades of development in Burkina Faso shows that there are not only structural, but also institutional, constraints on growth. These constraints should be identified and eliminated in order to introduce conditions and an environment conducive to quality growth.


Following the adoption of the Letter of Intent on Sustainable Human Development Policy (LIPDHD) in 1995, which served as the basis for the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the Government’s aim has been to focus the country’s development strategy on promoting human security. This entails increasing the effectiveness of public policies in order to ensure that they have maximum impact on the major social indicators, increase the purchasing power of the poorest population groups, and offer them a better framework for social betterment.

This economic and social policy renewal is all the more necessary in that Burkina Faso has subscribed to (i) the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and (ii) the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This implies, on the macroeconomic level, continuing efforts to achieve the paradigm of seeking high quality growth. The term “high quality growth” means, on the one hand, growth that is sustainable in the face of exogenous shocks and stronger because it is based on diversified sources and a broader economic base, and, on the other hand, growth that is redistributive and concerned with environmental protection. It entails the establishment of political, economic, and local good governance.

In this perspective, it is important to make use of relevant fiscal and sectoral policy instruments in order to help the Burkinabè population play a more active role in its own development and in reducing inequalities.

Economic growth is of course essential in order to raise the general income and well-being levels of the Burkinabè population, but growth does not suffice by itself to combat poverty and inequality. In the context of a economic policy intended to be prudent and to have an impact on the broadest possible population groups, striving for equity must be a key objective.

Various recent studies conducted by the Government have identified the main obstacles to balanced and sustainable growth. These are:

  • the weakness of human capital, which contributes to low labor productivity, the high unemployment level, and income inequalities;

  • the inadequacy of the economic development infrastructure, with its corollary the high costs of transactions and production factors, thereby hampering the emergence of a modern sector in the economy;

  • insufficient national capacities, which give rise to problems with governance, civic participation, and effectiveness in the conduct of development policies;

  • the low degree of economic openness to the outside world, thus limiting the opportunities for growth and job creation despite the efforts made as part of the stabilization and adjustment programs.

Burkina Faso wishes to make the most of the regional integration process now under way within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) in order to transform its handicap, that of being a landlocked country, into an asset, positioning itself as the crossroads for the economies of the subregion. By continuing and strengthening complementary structural reform programs focused on lifting the four major obstacles identified above, Burkina Faso could rapidly achieve growth rates that would make it possible substantially to reduce the incidence of poverty. In view of the scant competitiveness of the Burkina Faso economy at present, the West African economic integration process will probably impose some economic and social costs. However, the Government is confident in its capacity to work with the other partners in the Union with a view to: (i) limiting these costs; and (ii) making the most of the opportunities offered by a considerably broader regional market.

Moreover, Burkina Faso is among the least developed countries (LLDCs) which mobilize substantial flows of official development assistance (ODA). ODA contributes nearly 80 percent of the financing of the public investment program, but absorptive capacities remain insufficient owing to administrative red tape and the lengthy procedures generally applied by donors when projects and programs start up. Targeted studies show that such assistance has a perceptible influence on growth only within a framework characterized by “economic best practices.” Hence the importance of effective economic policies based on economic openness and macroeconomic stability, and also of the need to apply, in both spirit and letter, the reform of official development assistance.


The PRSP is a framework document intended to express the Government’s priority development objectives. It does not replace the sectoral strategies already in place or now being finalized, but instead ensures their consistency in order to guarantee greater impact on the beneficiary population groups. Its aim is thus to influence sectoral objectives and the selection of indicators for monitoring the programs and action plans that are financed. It reflects the key choices made in all the priority sectors.

The process underlying PRSP preparation and implementation is iterative. The Government decided to update the PRSP every three years in order to take account of the lessons learned from implementing the public policies adopted in the paper, the results of the supplementary work carried out by various institutions with a view to better understanding the phenomenon of poverty, and the volume of resources available.

The Government is further convinced after the three years that the effectiveness with which the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper was implemented depended heavily on the extent to which the various stakeholders had a sense of its ownership.

Accordingly, it insisted upon broad-based consultation in the process of revising the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which was launched officially on April 18, 2003 at a ceremony gathering together all the social stakeholders (about 600 participants).

It is important to stress that the official launch of the process was preceded by a series of meetings in February-March 2003 with private sector stakeholders, under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Crafts (CCIA) and with civil society organizations and the technical and financial partners.

The aim of these meetings was to remind participants of the context within which the PRSP had been prepared, the partial results achieved, and the justification for revising it.

Participatory process, toward ownership of development programs and policies by the social stakeholders

Participatory development has long been one of the hallmarks of development efforts in Burkina Faso. The responsibility of grassroots communities is called upon in the selection and conduct of grassroots development activities. In support of this participatory development, a strong associative movement with its roots in traditional society has also emerged and expanded rapidly. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the number of which expanded considerably following the major drought in the early 1970s, have contributed to the entrenchment of the concept of participation. There are now approximately 200 NGOs, which are organized into collectives. The most important of these are: the Permanent Secretariat of NGOs, the Liaison Office for NGOs and Associations, and the Network for Communication, Information, and Training of Women in NGOs; the Secretariat for Concertation of Sahelian NGOs; the Global Framework for Concertation of NGOs and Associations on the Environment and Development; the Coordination Office for NGOs for the Development of Basic Education, etc.

The associative movement encompasses nearly fourteen thousand (14,000) structures (cooperatives, groups, and mutual associations). In addition, the Government introduced pathways for discussions and exchanges with all the major social stakeholders by creating a framework for concertation between the state and civil society and a framework for concertation between the state and the private sector.

Among the noteworthy events marking this desire for participatory development, mention may be made of:

  1. In May 1990, a national conference on the economy was held with a view to assessing the structural constraints and inadequacies of the economy and defining a new economic development strategy. At the end of the conference, it was agreed to introduce an economic reform program supported by the Bretton Woods institutions.

  2. Annual organization, since 1993, of so-called Small Farmer Days, bringing together farmers and livestock raisers from the country’s 45 provinces as well as NGOs to engage in dialogue with the Government on the problems they are experiencing in the field. These sessions are chaired by the Head of State.

  3. In May 1994, the second national conference on the economy was held to analyze the relevance of the strategies being pursued and to identify the adjustments needed in order to derive the best possible advantage from the devaluation of the CFA franc. A further aim was to generate a positive perception of the devaluation and to call upon all to make an effort. This conference inspired the historical speech on production delivered on June 2, 1994 by the President of Burkina Faso. The essence of this speech was reflected in the Letter of Intent on Sustainable Human Development Policy (1995–2000), focusing on combating poverty and developing human resources.

  4. Organization of a Burkina Faso Women’s Forum in 1994. This meeting, held under the high auspices of the Head of State, made important recommendations regarding taking better account of the “Woman” dimension in the development process.

  5. In June 1995, the general meeting of project directors was held with a view to identifying ways and means of revitalizing and better streamlining the execution of development programs in order to increase their capacity to contribute to economic recovery while professionalizing their management.

  6. Organization and participation of Burkina Faso women at the Beijing Conference in 1995.

  7. In December 1997, the conference on the role and the mission of the state was held to reflect on public management in tandem with the strengthening of a government of law, an environment marked by competitiveness and efficiency, and improved listening to an ever more demanding national public opinion, which is a move toward strengthening the democratic process.

  8. States General on education and health were held in 1994 and 1998, respectively, bringing together all stakeholders in these fields. The conclusions from these meetings were used to (i) draw up a ten-year plan for the development of basic education, adopted by the Government in 1999, and (ii) prepare the national health policy and the national health development plan.

  9. Program budget preparation processes initiated in 1998 in all ministries, including the social ministries, which allow for policy dialogue and budget selection dialogue from the grassroots, as well as the introduction of a mechanism for allocating resources to decentralized structures.

  10. Forum on justice held in 1998, the conclusions of which are the basis for ongoing reforms in the sector.

  11. The decentralization process initiated by the country in 1995 was broadly expanded in 2001. It constitutes a major option which should enable local governments and grassroots communities to take their own development in hand.

  12. The process of preparing and implementing the PRSP was deliberately participatory, based on national conferences, sectoral and topic-based commissions, regional consultations, and regional development councils established in the context of the decentralization.

1.3.1 Objectives and principles of the PRSP revision

There were four key objectives assigned to the process of revising the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper:

  • assessing the relevance of the PRSP objectives in light of the results attained and the new measurement of poverty incidence;

  • examining the suitability of broadening the range of priority sectors and readjusting the components of the strategy;

  • regionalizing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper; and

  • ensuring broader involvement of the private sector and civil society.

The process of revising the PRSP was guided by the following principles:

  • Equity: The growth sought must be strong and high-quality growth that reduces inequalities. It must benefit the majority of the people, especially the poor, because it involves active participation on the part of all (the poor, men and women) in producing and sharing the fruits of this growth. Growth that reduces the inequalities associated with the differences in human capacities and in access to productive assets and resources;

  • Consistency of actions: This entails the systematic promotion of actions that reinforce one another in the various areas of intervention so as to create synergies that help reduce inequalities and poverty;

  • Empowerment of the poor: The promotion of sustainable development requires that all members of the workforce, bar none, contribute effectively to the development process. It goes beyond assistance to the poor by enhancing their capacity to assume responsibility for their own destiny;

  • Reduction of the inequalities between men and women: This will determine the chances of success of poverty reduction strategies. The processes that produce poverty affect men and women in different ways and to different degrees. The inequality between men and women is a major cause of poverty among women, and of poverty in general;

  • Reduction of regional disparities: Regional disparities are a source of exacerbation of poverty and inequalities and limit the participation of the various regions in the national development process;

  • Participation: The PRSP process must be properly understood as a process of social dialogue on the country’s development problems. Consequently, all stakeholders must play their part in ensuring that the validity of the decisions taken is enhanced;

  • Accounting for the concerns of youth: The idleness and unemployment of young people exacerbate their dependence and poverty even as these very youths are regarded as the nation’s vital force and its future.

1.3.2 Organization of the PRSP revision process

The process lasted seven months, from April to October 2003, and occurred in seven stages. Regional consultations

These consultations made it possible, on the one hand, to take account of the concerns of each of the thirteen (13) regions in the revised Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and, on the other hand, to provide each region with a regional strategic framework for reducing poverty. To this end, ten regional consultations were organized from May 8 to June 7, 2003. They brought together about three thousand (3,000) participants, of whom fewer than 10 percent were women; average participation was two hundred (200) participants per consultation, except in the case of the Centre and of Hauts Bassins. The consultation in the Centre grouped together the Centre-sud, Plateau, and Centre regions and mobilized four hundred (400) participations, while the Hauts Bassins consultation covered the Cascades and Hauts Bassins regions and involved three hundred (300) participants. Each of these meetings was sponsored by a member of the Government and chaired by the high commissioner of the province where the region’s administrative seat was located. In addition to eliciting regional perspectives, these consultations made it possible to enhance the sense of ownership felt by the various stakeholders, most of them from the deconcentrated administrations and community organizations, and to provide each region with a regional strategic framework for reducing poverty that reflects local realities.

The technical and financial partners organized on an ad hoc basis to monitor these regional consultations and, through their highly pertinent observations, to contribute to improving their organization. They unanimously acknowledge that this innovative approach created a sense of dynamism that should be maintained. Meetings on the consistency of sectoral policies with the PRSP

Meetings on policy consistency were held with all the heads of ministerial departments from July 1 to July 17, 2003. Their primary aim was to clarify the link between sectoral policies and the various pillars of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Specifically, they allowed for:

  • a greater sense of ownership of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper by the ministerial departments: the senior official in the department and his or her principal associates were enabled to discover or rediscover the PRSP and to compare it with sectoral policies. This outcome, it bears noting, implements the recommendation which emerged from the national conference on the PRSP organized in July 2002;

  • a clear sense of the importance and role of sectoral policies as operational instruments of the PRSP: the ministerial departments that have a sectoral policy and strategy were able clearly to indicate their interaction with the PRSP and their contribution to its implementation. Those departments which do not have them recognized the need to have such policies and strategies as soon as possible;

  • Substantive contributions to the revision of the PRSP: exchanges during these sessions demonstrated the need to take into account certain issues or themes that it was not possible to address in 2000 when the first version of the PRSP was prepared, namely: public security, jobs (in particular for youth and in the informal sector), social exclusion, the concept of “gender and development,” the environment and living standards, SMIs/SMEs, rural electrification, small-scale mining, and migration. It was also deemed necessary to add a matrix of performance indicators to the revised PRSP and to devote particular attention to national capacity building;

  • the need to provide each policy and program with a communication strategy: such a tool is all the more essential in that it is important to establish ongoing policy dialogue with all stakeholders. Stocktaking workshops

The first workshop, held from August 4 to 17, 2003, in Bobo-Dioulasso, brought together all the regional directors of economy and development, the research and planning directors of the ministries responsible for agriculture, health, basic education, territorial development and decentralization, and security, as well as the senior staff of the Technical Secretariat for the Coordination of Economic and Social Development Programs, the Directorate-General of the Economy and Planning, and the Directorate-General of Territorial Development, Local Development, and Regional Development. They made it possible to enhance the cohesiveness and relevance of the options identified in the thirteen regional poverty reduction strategy papers and to draft summary memoranda aimed at facilitating taking the regional priorities into account in the PRSP.

The second workshop, held in Ouagadougou on August 25 and 26, 2003, brought together about sixty participants from the public administration, the University and research institutes, the private sector, and civil society organizations (SPONG, RECIF/ONG, RENLAC), some ten of whom were women. Using a report based on a critical reading of the PRSP, prepared by a team of three independent resource persons, including one woman, the aim of the participants was to:

  • assess the relevance of the strategic options suggested in the recast version of the PRSP on the basis of the conclusions of studies and surveys conducted in the context of PRSP revision;

  • finalize the strategies and policies to be implemented in the context of the revised PRSP by supplementing and refining the proposals emerging from the critical reading of the PRSP; and

  • assess, if possible, the relevance of the matrix of PRSP monitoring indicators.

The results of these two stocktaking workshops had a decisive impact on the formulation of the revised Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Information sessions with technical and financial partners

Not only were all the technical and financial partners given broad latitude for participating actively in the process, but throughout the process the Government organized a number of sessions for information and exchanges with them. These sessions made it possible to (i) share the PRSP revision timetable and the lessons learned in the regional consultations; and (ii) seek out different views on the institutional mechanism for monitoring PRSP implementation as well as on the nature of the monitoring indicators. Civil society forum on rereading the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper

On their own initiative, from July 28 to 30, 2003, the civil society organizations held a forum aimed at enhancing their ownership of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in order to make a constructive contribution to the revision process and to its implementation. At the end of the forum, they unanimously adopted an important declaration on the PRSP process, which is summarized in Box 3. National conference on the PRSP

Taking the lead from the official ceremony launching the revision process on April 18, 2003, a national conference was held from October 2 to 4, 2003, involving approximately 600 participants, including members of the Government, representatives of the central, deconcentrated, and decentralized administration, the private sector, civil society organizations, and including producer organizations, the Children’s Parliament, representatives of the thirteen administrative regions, and the technical and financial partners. The work of the conference was conducted in six committees (rural development and food security, economic infrastructure, social sectors, public finances and resource allocation, private sector competitiveness and promotion, and governance and institutional reforms and decentralization).

The national conference validated the revised Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, its logical framework, and the monitoring indicators, as well as the document summarizing the regional poverty reduction strategy papers. In addition to reviewing these documents, the conference issued directives pertaining to:

  • eliminating the constraints on growth;

  • improving the procedures for mobilizing and absorbing domestic and external resources;

  • accelerating the development of the social sectors, namely basic education, literacy training, health, and the availability of safe drinking water;

  • speeding the program for eliminating the isolation between and within regions;

  • combating the lack of security;

  • strengthening the statistical and monitoring mechanisms of the PRSP; and

  • ensuring greater consistency between sectoral policies and the PRSP, and placing greater emphasis on the program approach. Consultation with the institutions of the republic

As was the paper prepared in 2000, the revised version of the PRSP was brought before the Economic and Social Council by the Government, an approach which reflects best practices with respect to governance. Indeed, owing to this institution’s highly diversified composition (public administration, private sector, civil society), its tasks include that of examining economic and financial development programs and calling the attention of the executive branch to the constraints and forces that may have an impact on program success. The Council devoted its first session of 2004 to the PRSP. The major findings set forth in the report submitted to the Government were taken into account.

Furthermore, in implementation of the provisions of Articles 101 and 112 of the Constitution, the Minister of Economy and Development submitted the new version of the PRSP to the National Assembly. This initiative is of great importance inasmuch as it is Parliament that approves the central government budget, the instrument whereby the PRSP is made operational.

Declaration of the civil society forum on review of the PRSP

Whereas poverty in Burkina Faso is mass poverty affecting the majority of the population;

Whereas we are reminded annually of the scope of such a phenomenon by the ranking of our country at the bottom of nations as measured by the Human Development Index;

We, the representatives of civil society organizations meeting in Ouagadougou on July 28, 29, and 30, 2003, to review the PRSP, make the following declaration:

We take note of the PRSP initiative as a catalyzing force for the efforts of the various stakeholders in combating poverty. However, we denounce the conditionality imposed by the World Bank and the IMF. We ask that this conditionality be eliminated as it is in contradiction with poverty reduction strategies.

We deplore the conditions surrounding the preparation, implementation, and evaluation of the PRSP, which failed to allow for broad concertation with all partners in general and with civil society in particular, as well as the low level of involvement of grassroots communities.

We acknowledge the legitimate need to accord priority to basic education as a poverty reduction strategy, but ask that forward-looking consideration continue to be given to providing the poor with the skills and capacities to effectively emerge from poverty and to enable Burkina Faso to compete internationally in an effective manner. We do not believe that basic education in and of itself will enable Burkina Faso to achieve the PRSP target of accelerating broad-based growth, inasmuch as economic growth depends in current times on expertise in science and technology at the highest level.

We resolve to join forces to intensify our day-to-day fight to combat poverty in all its forms.

We trust that the Government will further strengthen its will to combat poverty and to make this struggle a national priority that mobilizes all energies and the greatest possible amount of national resources. This will must be reflected not just in speeches, but in acts.

We emphasize the need to develop and adopt a national gender policy which is essential to ensuring the operational effectiveness of programs to combat the discrimination victimizing certain social groups.

We express serious doubts as to the relevance of the strategy that makes the private sector the driving force for combating poverty. In our opinion, the Government must play a fundamental role in development activities aimed at achieving a significant reduction in poverty.

We voice our serious concern as to the relevance of certain political choices taken in the agricultural area, in particular the promotion of agribusiness with, in consequence, the destruction of the best land held by small farmers, who are destined to become, in the best of cases and in the near future, simple agricultural laborers who have no real future. The same holds true as regards our country’s recent undertaking with respect to experimentation with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in cotton production. This raises all the more concerns in that even European countries are displaying reluctance to embark headlong into this transgenic adventure in view of the insufficient knowledge about the effects of these transgenic organisms on the environment and on human and animal health. Given the precarious nature of our ecosystem and of our technical, scientific, and material resources, we should be all the more cautious, if not to say wary. Moreover, our country’s total dependence on seed marketed by multinational agribusiness firms driven more by profit than by solving the problems of production and poverty must be taken into account.

We duly note the legislative and institutional measures taken to ensure good governance, as well as participation in democratic national and local life, and the transparent management of public resources. However, we wish to observe that these measures are only theoretical, that the political stakeholders are not playing their role of educating the people, and that the management of public resources is working at cross purposes with the principle of poverty reduction, which requires level-headed and exemplary behavior on the part of leaders. We note than many acts of economic crime go unpunished, thereby calling into question the Government’s genuine desire to combat poverty and undercutting the other stakeholders in national socioeconomic life. Thus, as regards the funds from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, funds targeted specifically toward the poor, we seek transparent management. In particular, we seek to have access to information on the resources gathered and the expenditures made.

We ask that the debt contracted by our country no longer be the concern of just the Government, but of all the people, through a control mechanism independent of the National Assembly. Moreover, considering that the debt poses an enormous obstacle to the development of poor countries and that it has been paid back many times over, we demand that it purely and simply be canceled.

We promise to strengthen our technical and organizational capacities with a view to contributing effectively to defending the strategic interests of grassroots communities. We further undertake to build our own capacities for lobbying and arguing in favor of a genuine impact of PRSP outcomes on the people.

In conclusion, we observe that civil society is pleased by its involvement in the PRSP revision process. However, this does not suffice, for building a country’s future is an ongoing that involves all stakeholders. For these reasons, civil society insists that the poverty reduction effort be part of a common vision of the future, the future of all components of our society. Civil society hence seeks that the Government involve it on a lasting basis in the preparation, implementation, and defense of development policies benefiting the Burkinabè population. However, above and beyond our commitment alongside that of the other stakeholders, we, the civil society organizations, with the people at the grassroots, affirm that “Looking ahead, if we don’t get more, we’re out!”

Done in Ouagadougou, July 30, 2003

The Forum


The results of the survey on national aspirations, and those of the participatory survey on evaluating poverty and the Burkinabè survey on household living conditions (July 2003), as well as the structural analysis of the forward-looking national study known as “Burkina 2025,” all indicate that the major challenge facing Burkina Faso is reducing the poverty of its people, their vulnerability to crises of any kinds, and the inequality among the various regions and socioeconomic groups. To meet this aim, the poverty reduction strategy targets reconciling the needs for structural reform and economic recovery with the objectives for income growth among the poor and transfers to the poorest. However, bearing in mind the limited resources at its disposal and in an effort to be realistic in its approach to the problems, the Government has set forth the following as its development priorities targeting poverty reduction:

  • reducing the social deficit;

  • promoting rural development and food security;

  • improving access by the public, particularly by the poor, to safe drinking water;

  • combating HIV/AIDS;

  • protecting the environment and improving living conditions;

  • developing SMIs/SMEs and small-scale mining;

  • strengthening public safety; and

  • enhancing national capacities, with particular emphasis on the promotion of new information and communications technologies.

For the incidence of poverty to be reduced significantly, economic growth will have to increase in the years ahead. Such increased growth must:

  • create the conditions for improving the living standards of the people, especially the poorest;

  • improve the impact and efficiency of public policies, with initial focus on the social sectors;

  • base actions on the rational management of natural resources; and

  • build upon the introduction of improved governance and better coordination of official development assistance.

Achieving the objectives of the strategic framework will revolve around a number of programs organized around the four strategic pillars set forth below, for which the quantified priority actions are identified in the Priority Action Program (PAP):

Pillar 1: Accelerating broad-based growth

  • Maintain a stable macroeconomic framework

  • Increase the competitiveness of the economy and reduce factor costs

  • Support the productive sectors and, in particular, speed up rural development

Pillar 2: Promoting access to basic social services and social protection by the poor

  • Promote access to education services by the poor

  • Promote access to health and nutrition services by the poor

  • Promote access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the poor

  • Improve the living conditions of the poor: housing

  • Guarantee social protection to the poor

Pillar 3: Increasing employment and income-generating activities for the poor in an equitable manner

  • Decrease the vulnerability of agricultural activity

  • Intensify and modernize agricultural activity

  • Support producers’ organizations and develop collective infrastructures

  • Increase and diversify the incomes of rural residents

  • Speed up access to isolated areas

  • Promote jobs for youths, and vocational training in particular

  • Improve the living and working conditions of rural women

Pillar 4: Promoting good governance

  • Promote political governance

  • Promote administrative governance

  • Promote economic governance

  • Promote local governance.



Poverty is a polysemous concept that can best be grasped from a multidimensional perspective. The different approaches to poverty complement each other and highlight two essential dimensions of poverty: the monetary dimension, which is measured by income, and the human dimension, i.e. the issue of how resources are distributed among the individuals or groups that make up a society.

2.1.1 Monetary poverty

The concept of monetary poverty essentially falls within the perspective of a quantitative and operational approach designed to provide a general benchmark for classifying individuals according to their level of well-being. There is a predefined level of well-being which, if it is not attained for lack of adequate income, corresponds to a social situation of poverty. The amount of income needed to satisfy this level of well-being is the poverty threshold; any person whose income falls below this threshold is thus considered to be poor.

In view of the practical difficulties in calculating the income of households or individuals, very often well-being is looked at in terms of level of consumption. If total spending on consumption is less than the predefined threshold, then the individual is considered to be poor. The proportion of poor individuals in the total population indicates the incidence or acuteness of poverty.

The poverty threshold (or poverty line) is thus a normative level of expenditure, calculated on the basis of food and nonfood requirements, below which individuals are considered to be poor.

The incidence of poverty is the proportion of poor persons (i.e. persons with a level of expenditure below the poverty line) within the total population.

Other equally important indices serve to characterize and analyze monetary poverty by taking into account the distribution of individual incomes in relation to the threshold. This particularly concerns the depth and severity of poverty.

Poverty, a polysemous and multidimensional concept

According to Mamphela Ramphele, poverty “…is not only lack of money. It is fundamentally about control over one’s destiny… The whole issue about rights is not about putting money in somebody’s hands. It is about creating space for people to be able to assert their rights, to be able to feel that their dignity is recognized, and to be able to act as historical agents willing and able to shape and the future of our common humanity.”

According to Deepa Narayan, “While social exclusion and poverty are distinct concepts, they are deeply interconnected. Poor people remain poor because they are excluded from access to the resources, opportunities, information, and connections the less poor have. For poor people in developing countries, this translates into inter-generational poverty. In addition, poverty is socially stigmatized, making it even harder for poor people to gain access to the networks and resources they need for survival. This vicious cycle is difficult to break. Being disconnected from powerful institutions limits the information that the poor have about entitlements, scholarships for children, and their own earnings.”

Analysis of the poverty profile of Burkina Faso, an exercise initiated in 1994 and now in its third edition, has the objective of targeting especially underprivileged groups, based on a number of indicators (income, expenditure, satisfaction of needs, and access to basic services such as healthcare, housing, and education), and the goal of thereby increasing the effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts, identified as a priority by international institutions, particularly the World Bank (1990). Two basic approaches or instruments have been used for this purpose.

The first is the absolute or nutritional approach, based on the caloric consumption required by a normal adult: this approach made it possible to establish an “absolute” threshold of poverty, which can be used to measure both the extent (the number of persons who fall below the threshold) and the depth (the proportion of the threshold to be transferred per individual in order to eliminate absolute poverty). This approach divided the population into two large groups: the poor and the non-poor.

The second is the relative approach (in this case, by quintile or fifth of the population, broken down by level of expenditure): this made it possible to look at the variations and gradations of poverty between groups at different expenditure levels. This is the approach generally used, with terms such as “poorer” and “less poor” or “non-poor” used to designate the categories at the extremes. The first quintile designates the poorest, and the fifth quintile the non-poor, while the in-between quintiles refer to different variations in the degree of poverty.

Maurizia Tovo (1995) clearly delineates the distinctions between and the respective advantages and drawbacks of these two approaches. According to her, an absolute poverty threshold can be calculated on the basis of the income needed to satisfy the minimum nutritional requirements, taking into account the dietary habits of people and other basic expenditures (clothing, fuels, household articles and implements).

Inasmuch as estimating a threshold of absolute poverty involves highly complex (and often controversial) calculations, a relative poverty threshold can be used as a way to classify in the category of the poor any individual situated below a certain level of consumption, determined in arbitrary fashion; the concept of a relative poverty threshold is not an ideal tool, but it does provide essential information for determining measures to be taken and for targeting poverty reduction programs.

The World Bank (1990) noted “The perception of poverty has evolved historically and varies tremendously from culture to culture. Criteria used for distinguishing poor from non-poor tend to reflect specific national priorities and normative concepts of welfare and rights. In general, as countries become wealthier, their perception of the acceptable minimum level of consumption—the poverty line—changes.”

The depth or scope of poverty is the average distance separating the incomes of poor persons from the poverty line. This index serves to determine the theoretical amount of resources needed to eliminate poverty.

The severity or gravity of poverty is a measurement of the dispersion (i.e. spread) of incomes of poor persons in relation to the average distance separating them from the poverty line.

2.1.2 Human poverty

In addition to manifestations linked to insufficient income, there are other aspects of poverty such as lack of access to productive resources, lack of access to certain social services (education, healthcare, safe drinking water, housing, etc.), social exclusion, lack of participation in community life, etc. These different aspects were identified at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen on the “eradication of poverty” and then taken up and examined more closely by the United Nations Development Programme in order to formalize the concept of human poverty.

This concept of human poverty, which falls within the perspective of a qualitative approach to poverty, is essentially based on a lack or deprivation of capacities, ranging from the material sphere to the most complex social spheres.

The multiple faces of poverty—exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, vulnerability—indicate that poverty is no longer a purely economic and social matter: it constitutes a violation of human rights. Poverty and, more generally, inequality place social stability at risk and represent a threat to fundamental liberties from a civil and political standpoint. And, in reciprocal fashion, the elimination of all forms of discrimination and marginalization can mightily contribute to eradication of many of the root causes of poverty.

In addition to the characteristics emphasized above, as a less developed country (LDC), Burkina Faso is subjected to systemic causes of poverty as a result of globalization and unequal trade (agricultural subsidies in rich countries). Also, the need to take into account the different approaches to poverty has led the Government to undertake a number of investigations since 1994 with the goal of adequately targeting individuals affected by poverty and making use of a broad range of tools in order to fight poverty more effectively. The most important research efforts are:

  • the priority surveys on household living conditions conducted in 1994, 1998, and 2003;

  • the qualitative surveys on perceptions of poverty, called “participatory poverty assessment surveys,” conducted in 1998 and 2003;

  • the socioeconomic studies related to the public expenditure reviews and those related to the accessibility of essential social services (healthcare and education) conducted on a regular basis since 2000.

These studies have highlighted the massive nature of poverty affecting a majority of the Burkinabè population. In 1998, for example, 62 percent of households lived below the poverty threshold when issues of vulnerability and the precarious living conditions of a substantial segment of the population, specifically rural households, were taken into account. The scope of this poverty thus requires a more vigorous approach than would be required for residual poverty. Indeed, at this level, therapies must reach a certain threshold in order to produce cumulative effects likely, over time, to make the phenomenon residual.


2.2.1 Household expenditure

The results of the Burkinabè survey of household living conditions conducted in 2003 indicate that the average level of expenditure per household is roughly CFAF 866,381, i.e. a monthly expenditure of CFAF 72,198. Of this amount, 47.9 percent is devoted to food, while the remaining 52.1 percent goes to nonfood expenditures. Cereal products account for the largest share of household spending on food items (48.9 percent).

2.2.2 Poverty threshold and indices

Based on the results of the survey conducted in 2003, the absolute poverty threshold works out to CFAF 82,672 per person per year. This means that the proportion of the Burkinabè population living below the poverty line comes to 46.4 percent, i.e. an increase of 1.9 point compared to 1994 (44.5 percent) and 1.1 point compared to 1998 (45.3 percent).

The scope of poverty underwent a slight increase after a period of relative stabilization between 1994 and 1998. The depth of poverty went first from 13.9 percent in 1994 to 13.7 percent in 1998, then to 15.5 percent in 2003. In contrast, severity remained stable throughout the period, ranging from 6.0 percent in 1994 to 5.9 percent in 1998 and 2003.

Figure 1 tracks changes in the poverty indices in 1994, 1998, and 2003.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Changes in poverty indices since 1994

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

Source: INSD: Report on the results of the surveys on household living conditions:

2.2.3 Poverty and household expenditure

The structure of household expenditure shows that, among the poor, spending is largely devoted to the acquisition of food products; close to two-thirds of all spending by poor households, versus 43.3 percent in the case of the non-poor, goes into purchases of food products. Home-consumed production is also a major item for the poor, representing 51 percent of their food expenditures. Cereal expenditures by the poor are even higher, accounting for 55 percent of their total spending on food products, including 42 percent for millet and sorghum.

In the case of nonfood expenditure, home-consumed production by poor households accounts for 41.2 percent, versus just 17.7 percent for the non-poor. Rent, wood and charcoal, soap, spending on various ceremonies, and healthcare are the largest expenditure items for poor households. Among non-poor households, rent is the largest expenditure item, but the non-poor allocate more resources to healthcare than to the various ceremonies, the third largest item.

2.2.4 Perception of the status of poverty

According to the results of the participatory surveys on perceptions of the dimensions of well-being, poverty, and the accessibility of basic social services in urban and rural areas, conducted in 1998 and 2003, poverty, particularly economic poverty, is reflected at the individual level in the non-satisfaction of essential needs such as those for food, clothing, and housing. At the collective level, on the other hand, it is reflected in the absence of favorable natural factors and the emergence of famine and epidemics. In addition, the absence of a safe environment (public security), the lack of socioeconomic infrastructure (schools, markets, clinics, etc.), the isolation of certain areas, and the weakness of the means of transportation accentuate this notion of collective poverty experienced by populations (see Figure 2).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Componential diagram of frequency of mention of the ten leading perceptions of poverty at the individual level in 2003

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

Source: Report of the participatory survey on poverty assessment, April 2003

The diagram clearly shows that, at the individual level, the three leading perceptions of poverty concern, in order, food, employment or income-generating activities, and healthcare. This ranking and the elements of perception confirm the economic and human dimensions of poverty and lend support to the idea that analysis of this phenomenon can and should rely on an approach that integrates both these dimensions.

The perceptions held by populations regarding the determinants of their situation of poverty are clear, but the main factors of poverty are ranked differently depending on the area of residence.

In urban areas, the ten leading factors of poverty, in order of importance, are unpredictable climatic conditions, weak purchasing power, old age, large family, laziness or lack of initiative, lack of good governance, physical handicap, theft, death of a spouse, and chronic poverty. In rural areas, the list is as follows: laziness or lack of initiative, permanent failure, physical handicap, social decline, chronic poverty, weak purchasing power, social and cultural constraints, absence of NGOs or aid projects, large family, and difficulty in planning.

Finally, spatial analysis of the results of the survey on the participatory poverty assessment (April 2003) reveals nuances between different regions of Burkina Faso. Thus, the populations of the south central region emphasize the problems of healthcare and unemployment and those of the eastern region stress the lack of security, while the populations of the central plateau are preoccupied with the inaccessibility of social services and those of the Sahel cite illiteracy. It also reveals differences of perception on the part of specific groups such as street children and children who do not attend school, who stress the lack of jobs and income-generating activities, the absence of solidarity, the large size of the family, poor origins, and the intergenerational social reproduction of poverty.

Overall, weak purchasing power, the burden of a large family, and the lack of initiative appear to be important causes in both urban and rural areas. Although the causes and determinants are not indicated and analyzed, and the available data do not express differences in perceptions of poverty by gender (men/women, young/old, etc.), it is evident that the perceptions of households often dictate their behavior. They should therefore be taken into consideration in defining a poverty reduction strategy.

2.2.5 Analysis of poverty by area of residence

Poverty has become more pronounced in urban areas, in terms of both incidence and depth and also in terms of its contribution to the overall national incidence of poverty. All the indices relating to urban areas practically doubled between 1994 and 2003.

The incidence in urban areas grew by 3.4 percentage points between 1998 and 2003, from 16.5 percent to 19.9 percent, whereas it stood at just 10.4 percent in 1994.

The depth of urban poverty was 2.5 percent in 1994, then increased to 4 percent in 1998 and 5.5 percent in 2003.

The severity of poverty in urban areas rose from 0.9 percent in 1994 to 1.5 percent in 1998 and 2.2 percent in 2003.

Lastly, the contribution of urban poverty to the overall incidence of poverty rose from 3.8 percent in 1994 to 7.8 percent in 2003; in 1998, it stood at 6.1 percent.

Table 1 gives the poverty indices based on area of residence from 1994 to 2003.

Table 1:

Poverty indices (%) based on area of residence from 1994 to 2003

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Source: INSD, Poverty analysis reports, 1994, 1999, and 2003.

Despite the substantial worsening of urban poverty, poverty in Burkina Faso remains a mostly rural phenomenon. Indeed, as in 1994 and 1998, the results of the Burkinabè survey of household living conditions indicate that the incidence in rural areas is greater than 50 percent (52.3 percent in 2003 versus 51 percent in 1994 and 1998).

This increased incidence in rural areas between 1998 and 2003 was accompanied by an increase in the depth of poverty, stabilization of the index related to severity, and a drop in the contribution to national poverty. The depth of poverty in rural areas rose from 15.7 percent in 1998 to 17.9 percent in 2003, although it had declined by 0.4 percentage point in 1998 in comparison to 1994. This increase in the gap between the average income level of the poor in rural areas and the poverty threshold probably signals an increase in long-term poverty in rural areas, which still accounted for 92.2 percent of the overall national incidence of poverty in 2003.

2.2.6 Analysis of poverty by region

The Burkinabè survey of household living conditions in 2003 relied on the 13 administrative and planning regions established by Law No. 013–2001/AN of July 2, 2001 on decentralization for the production and representativeness of the data.

Spatial analysis of poverty on this basis serves to classify the regions into three groups (see Table 2):

  • the first group includes the regions most affected by poverty, with a rate of incidence well above the national level. The northern, south central, central plateau, Boucle du Mouhoun, east central, and southwestern regions belong to this group;

  • the second group consists of regions where the incidence of poverty is close to the national average. The west central, eastern, and Cascades regions are all part of this group;

  • finally, the third group consists of regions that are relatively less affected by poverty. The Hauts Bassins, Sahel, north central, and central regions fall within this group.

Table 2:

Poverty indices by administrative region in 2003

article image
Source: INSD, Results of EBCVM, 2003

In general, an area’s contribution to national poverty is related to the size of its population and the incidence of poverty in the area. Thus, an area may contribute significantly to national poverty if its population is large or if its population is poor.

The Boucle du Mouhoun, northern, and east central regions thus contribute the most to national poverty with respective C0 indices of 15.9, 12.7, and 9.8 percent (regions with large populations and a high incidence of poverty). They are followed by the Hauts Bassins (8.1 percent), west central (7.7 percent), central plateau (7.6 percent), and eastern (7.5 percent) regions (regions with large populations and a low incidence of poverty). The regions that contribute the least to national poverty are the Cascades (3.1 percent), Sahel (4.6 percent), and central (4.9 percent) regions (regions with a low incidence of poverty).

Analysis of changes in the status of poverty in the different regions hinges on a qualifying observation as to the comparability of the data on each region from the three survey periods (1994, 1998, and 2003). The 1994 data were in fact produced on the basis of the country’s seven agro-climatic regions (north central, south central, east, north, west, southeast, and south).

The 1998 survey was based on the ten planning regions of the Ministry of Economy and Finance: central (corresponding to the current central and south central regions), east central, north central, west central, east, north, northwest (corresponding to the current region of Boucle du Mouhoun), west (corresponding to the current Hauts Bassins and Cascades regions), Sahel, and southwest.

The Burkinabè survey of household living conditions in 2003, on the other hand, yielded results that refer to the 13 administrative and planning regions, as indicated above.

In 1998, for the purposes of comparative analysis, the data on the ten economic regions were reprocessed based on the six agro-climatic areas. This led to the observation of a change in the poverty map stemming from a substantial regression in the incidence of poverty in the agro-climatic regions of the south, southeast, and north, by nearly 8 percentage points, and a significant increase in the south central area and, to a lesser extent, the west. The analysis indicated that the regional disparities are due to major differences in the availability of natural resources (water, fertile land, environment) that often determine the types of crops. Furthermore, heavy population pressure combined with a very fragile ecosystem makes the issue of poverty crucial in certain areas, especially the north central, south central, and southeastern regions.

Map 1.
Map 1.

Incidence of poverty by agro-climatic region in 1994 and 1998

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

Key INCIDENCE OF POVERTY BY AGRO-CLIMATIC REGION IN 1994 AND 1998 1994 incidence in red; 1998 incidence in black

Additional studies show that changes in the incidence of poverty in the different regions of Burkina Faso between 1998 and 2003 can be used to group the regions into three categories (see Table 3 and Map 2):

Table 3:

Changes in the incidence of poverty by region from 1998 to 2003

article image
Source: Jean-Pierre LACHAUD, “Pauvreté et inégalité au Burkina Faso: Profil et dynamique,” 2003.
Map 2.
Map 2.

Incidence of poverty by administrative region in 1998 and 2003

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

INCIDENCE OF POVERTY BY ADMINISTRATIVE REGION IN 1998 AND 2003 Incidence in 2003 (blue) / Incidence in 1998 (red)
  • regions where the incidence of poverty declined during this period: north central, which had the sharpest decline, east, Sahel, and west central;

  • regions where the incidence rose by fewer than 5 percentage points: Hauts Bassins, east central, and Cascades;

  • regions where the incidence rose by more than 5 percentage points: center, south central, north, central plateau, Boucle du Mouhoun, and southwest.

2.2.7 Analysis of poverty by gender

The Burkinabé Survey of Household Living Conditions (EBCVM) indicates that the level of discrimination between women and men, which can be expressed by the disparity in the incidence of poverty, is 1.4 percentage point in favor of men. Women also contribute more than men to the overall incidence of poverty at the national level (52 versus 48 percent), and the severity of poverty is slightly higher for women than for men.

However, it turns out that households headed by men are the poorest (46.9 percent versus 36.5 percent in the case of households headed by women). This situation is explained by, among other factors, the large size of households headed by men (see Table 4:).

Table 4:

Poverty indices by gender in 2003

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Source: INSD, Results of EBCVM, 2003.

The lag in school enrollment for girls poses an obstacle to women’s participation in the modern sector, where educated women make up roughly 21 percent of the work force in general government and just 5 percent of the work force in private companies of the modern sector. With respect to leadership in public life (i.e. the political sphere), progress has clearly been made, yet women remain underrepresented in the Parliament, in the Government, and at senior levels of central and communal government services. In 2000, for example, 11,206 out of a total of 44,316 civil servants were women, i.e. 25.3 percent. In 2003, there were:

  • 4 women ministers out of 30 (13.3 percent);

  • 13 women deputies out of 111 (11.7 percent);

  • 50 women magistrates out of 200 (25.0 percent);

  • 4 women secretaries-general of provinces out of 45 (8.9 percent);

  • 5 women high commissioners out of 45 (11.1 percent);

  • 5 women ambassadors out of 25 (20.0 percent);

  • 3 women mayors out of 57 (5.3 percent).

The health status of women is characterized by high morbidity and mortality. Direct causes such as hemorrhages and infections are responsible for roughly 72 percent of all cases of maternal death. In addition, it has been established that 55 percent of pregnant women are anemic. Nationwide, only 38.4 percent of pregnant women receive a prenatal consultation. Because of the frequency of childbirth in unhygienic conditions, the rate of prenatal mortality was 126 per thousand in 1995. The factors underlying the health status of women include not only ignorance and poverty, but also the burden of domestic activities, harmful traditional practices, and inadequate sanitation and safe drinking water supply.

Socioeconomic conditions and sociological and cultural constraints often dictate women’s limited participation in economic and public life, particularly as a result of difficulties of access to land and credit. With help from NGOs, women’s cooperatives are raising vegetables and producing handicrafts. However, these activities have low productivity owing to a lack of support services and access to credit.

The inadequacy of the institutional mechanisms set up to grant loans to women prevents them from benefiting from credit facilities. To improve the socioeconomic conditions for women, a network of financial institutions needs to be created that is capable of attracting savings and recycling them for investment purposes by extending medium- and long-term loans to women.

The literacy rate for women in Burkina Faso (12.9 percent) is half the rate for men (24.8 percent). This disparity is found in all social categories but is much more pronounced in the poorest categories. Thus, for example, the literacy rate for women in the top standard-of-living quintile (the least poor) was 33.5 percent in 1994, versus 53.8 percent of men, while the respective rates were just 3 percent and 10.8 percent in the lowest standard-of-living quintile (the poorest).

In summary, women have limited access to healthcare and to employment and credit opportunities and they participate less in the nation’s political life and in the decision-making process. All these factors bear upon their level of poverty, just as they bear upon and expand the general population’s level of poverty due to the decisive role played by women in production, healthcare, hygiene, nutrition, and education of children. There is thus an urgent need to speed up the task of boosting the literacy rate for women.

2.2.8 Analysis of poverty by socioeconomic group

The analysis by socioeconomic group distinguishes nine categories based on the status of the head of household. Table 5 indicates the incidence of poverty for the different groups in 1998 and 2003. In 2003, as in 1998, food crop farmers and cash crop farmers were the two socioeconomic groups whose monetary circumstances were most precarious.

Table 5:

Incidence of poverty by status of household head

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Source: Jean-Pierre LACHAUD, “Pauvreté et inégalité au Burkina Faso: Profil et dynamique,” September 2003

The incidence of poverty rose from 53.4 percent in 1998 to 55.5 percent in 2003 for the first group, i.e. an increase of 2.1 points, while for the second group the incidence rose from 42.4 percent in 1998 to 45.5 percent in 2003. Over the same period, the incidence of poverty also increased for wage-earners in the formal private sector (11.3 percent in 2003 versus 1.1 percent in 1998) and for self-employed nonfarm workers (12.7 percent in 1998 and 21.5 percent in 2003). In contrast, the incidence of monetary poverty declined for wage-earners in the public sector, wage-earners in the informal private sector, family helpers and apprentices, the unemployed, and the economically inactive.

The precarious situation of food crop farmers is the result of several factors, including:

  • a lack of information on prices and new outlets;

  • limited marketing opportunities owing to the inadequate transport infrastructure and widespread home-consumed production;

  • limited access to existing inputs to boost productivity;

  • scarcity and poverty of land suitable for cultivation;

  • limited access to educational, healthcare, training, and extension services.

Cash crop farmers also suffer from a weak supply of human capital. The various policies on price liberalization, institutional restructuring, and investment do not yet appear to have revitalized rural areas to the benefit of cash crop farmers.


Understanding the dynamics of poverty necessarily involves investigations concerning the relationship that exists between poverty and well-being, economic growth, and inequality.

2.3.1 Growth, well-being, inequality, and poverty

Generally speaking, the links between growth and poverty indicate that one increases when the other declines. In other words, growth implies a reduction in poverty. Although this trend does not reveal a cause-and-effect relationship between the two phenomena, it does appear that growth promotes poverty reduction to some extent even if growth is not always the sole reason for the reduction. Growth alone is certainly not sufficient to force a decline in poverty, but the need for growth is justified by the fact that wealth must be created in order to raise the general income level and well-being of the population. For growth to be a powerful tool in poverty reduction, issues of disparity and inequality need to be resolved. Once this condition is satisfied, poverty reduction in and of itself becomes a real stimulant for growth through:

  • the development of entrepreneurship and risk-taking, both of which are essential for growth;

  • improved mobility of individuals as a result of access to more productive resources;

  • improvements in human productivity and in the distribution and utilization of socioeconomic investments.

During the period 1991–2002, Burkina Faso recorded average annual economic growth of 5 percent in real terms. During the period of the PRSP (2000–2002), the average growth rate was 4.3 percent. These results fall well shy of the objectives initially set with a view to triggering a substantial improvement in the living standards of the people. In fact, the expected growth rate was around 7 or 8 percent, corresponding to an increase in per capita GDP on the order of 4 or 5 percent, which could cause per capita income to double in the space of 15 years.

With respect to disparities, the results of the 2003 survey on household living conditions show a reduction in per capita expenditure disparities between 1994 and 2003: the Gini coefficient concerning the level of per capita spending by households fell from 0.560 in 1994 to 0.530 in 1998 and 0.506 in 2003. However, this reduction pertains more to rural areas than to urban areas. In fact, the survey also shows a trend toward greater disparities in urban areas (+2.8 percent) and a decline in disparities in rural areas (-3.3 percent) between 1994 and 2003. All these factors tend to reinforce the disparities between rural and urban areas, which have become less homogeneous over the last ten years.

In terms of the concentration of spending, the value of the Gini coefficient (0.46) indicates an average concentration, but in reality there are great disparities in spending: 50 percent of the population spends less than a quarter of the total amount of spending, while less than 25 percent of the population spends more than 50 percent of the total amount.

At the regional level, between 1998 and 2003, the west central, south central, western, Boucle du Mouhoun, southwestern, and east central regions also showed a reduction in disparities, while the remaining regions were characterized by an increase. However, the changes in disparities within the different regions cannot be directly attributed to the dominant economic activity and changes in the poverty level, because the regions that showed a reduction in disparities are quite diverse in terms of economic activity.

The Hauts Bassins and Boucle du Mouhoun regions, for example, are characterized by cash crop farming, while subsistence agriculture is dominant in the south central and east central regions.

Similarly, the regions where disparities grew also have diverse characteristics: cash crops in the Cascades region, stockraising in the north central and Sahel regions, food crops in the northern and central plateau regions, and farming and stockraising in the eastern region. The eastern region recorded a strong decline in the incidence of poverty, while the south central region, despite a reduction in disparities, showed an increase in the incidence of poverty.

2.3.2 Poverty and vulnerability of households

The study on trends in poverty and vulnerability indicates that the increase in the phenomenon of poverty is primarily attributable to transitory poverty. The results displayed in Figure 3 indicate that, overall, the increase in poverty in Burkina Faso between 1998 and 2003 is due to the number of transitory and evolutional poor. This number has increased much more than the number of long-term poor, which is in relative decline. This worrisome situation signifies an increase in the vulnerability of poor, and perhaps even non-poor, social groups. It raises the necessity of addressing the issue of the vulnerability of populations in the different strategies.

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Changes in poverty and vulnerability in terms of individuals between 1998 and 2003

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

Source: Jean-Pierre LACHAUD, “Pauvreté et inégalité au Burkina Faso: Profil et dynamique,” Sept. 2003.

As regards the vulnerability of households, of course, urban poverty is not always well known, but the increase in the incidence of poverty in urban areas highlights the trend toward the urbanization of poverty (see Table 1).

Inasmuch as one-third of the Burkinabé population will live in urban areas by 2025, there is an urgent need to address this situation and the growth in urban poverty. In fact, the scope and general character of the phenomena of poverty and impoverishment require that steps be taken to set in place a dynamic and forward-looking mechanism of social protection against social risks and vulnerability, with the active participation of all segments of the Burkinabè population.

The concept of vulnerability according to the World Bank

According to the report of the pilot study on social risks and vulnerability in Burkina Faso, conducted under the auspices of the World Bank, “to be poor does not only mean having a low level of consumption, education, and healthcare.

“As the evidence clearly shows, it also means having fear of tomorrow and worrying about a crisis that might appear at any moment, without knowing whether one has the capacity to withstand it. This sword of Damocles is the daily lot of the poor, and it is quite possible that the changes taking place today in trade flows, technology, and climate will only heighten the dangers. The poor are very often among the most vulnerable elements of society, because they are most exposed to all sorts of risks.

“Their limited income keeps them from building up savings or accumulating assets, which leaves them unprotected in the event of a crisis. Economic growth helps to mitigate the potential danger, since it becomes easier to manage risks when income increases. But, whatever the circumstances, the poor are less vulnerable when they have mechanisms available to limit or lessen the risks, or to confront them.”

Thus, for example, the north central region, where the incidence of poverty was 48.9 percent in 1994 (versus a national average of 44.5 percent), experienced an increase to 58.1 percent (versus a national average of 45.3 percent); then, in 2003, this region witnessed a decline in the incidence of poverty (34 percent, versus a national average of 46.4 percent).

The determinants of poverty in rural areas of Burkina Faso

Apart from external transfers that cannot be monitored, the economic performance of a rural resident is the result of two basic elements: total output and the price at which this output can be sold. Total output is essentially of primary origin and includes not only crop production but also the output of other activities, including stockraising and nonfarm activities (handicrafts, processing of agricultural products, etc.). Among other factors, output depends on factor productivity: land, labor, and work tools such as draft animal traction equipment. The price corresponds to the amount that buyers are willing to pay for products and largely depends on market conditions. A rural inhabitant’s situation of poverty or well-being is closely tied to the interaction of prices and the productivity of key inputs, as well as to his or her village environment, which can be described in terms of the extent of openness to the world based on the level of functioning of the village and the existence of markets for the basic goods and services necessary for a totally fulfilled life.

1. Low productivity of farming and nonfarm activities. Studies have pointed out the low productivity of Burkinabè agriculture. This is reflected in very low yields per hectare, particularly in vulnerable areas with a high incidence of poverty. The low yields per hectare can be explained by the low productivity of labor, exacerbated by the large number of dependents in most households (due to the presence of many young children). Recent survey results indicate that farm income per working individual ranges between CFAF 51,000 in Soum province (representative of the Sahelian zone), CFAF 71,000 in Passoré province (representative of the Sudano-Sahelian zone of the central plateau), and CFAF 89,000 in Bale province (representative of the North Guinean zone). The studies also show that nonfarm activities brought in each year per working individual CFAF 15,000 in Soum, CFAF 18,000 in Passoré, and CFAF 37,000 in Bale during a period of four months following the harvests of 1998/1999.

The weak factor productivity stems from a number of causes. In general, the tendency toward subsistence farming in the poorest areas limits the scale of production to a very low level, further accentuated by the lack of labor-saving equipment which appears to be a constraint at certain stages of production. Yet this orientation toward subsistence farming is not inevitable. Among immediate explanatory factors, three stand out: (i) the low level of education, one consequence of which is to limit small farmers’ field of vision to what is happening in their immediate surroundings; (ii) the incompleteness of the technologies used in vulnerable areas, which are designed primarily for self-sufficiency; these technologies focus on the harnessing of water resources (small dikes, Zai), but they are not complemented by heavy use of inorganic and organic fertilizers; (iii) the absence of a large-scale national policy for disseminating new technologies in vulnerable areas (with the exception of the cotton growing area).

2. Strong price fluctuations within and between years. Price fluctuations, with prices actually doubling between the harvest period and the pre-harvest gap, or even between one region and another, are evidence of imperfect markets. Low prices at harvest and rising prices during the months of farm production strongly penalize poor farmers and only increase their poverty. Indeed, the poor are often forced to sell their food crops at harvest in order to meet urgent needs and then must repurchase the same products six to nine months later in the face of food shortages.

A number of factors explain the wide price variations over time and space: (i) high transaction costs due to the fragility of markets, a lack of contracts, and a lack of insurance, creating a situation in which the prices received by farmers deviate sharply from the prices paid by consumers in centers of high demand. These same factors produce a gap between prices at harvest and prices a few months later, by excluding some farmers from the market and thereby rationing supply; (ii) the inadequacy of the infrastructure limits communication between markets and thus arbitrage in support of price levels. One example is the lack of an effective route between producing areas in the western part of the country (the provinces of Kossi, Houët, Kénédougou, and Bougouriba) and the Sahelian region where farm productivity is low (the provinces of Yatenga, Soum, and Séno); (iii) the lack of a price stabilization policy at the national level.

3. Villages with little connection to the outside world and markets that function poorly. Producing more than one can consume depends not only on the factors mentioned above, but also on the possible uses of any surplus. The existence of marketable goods arousing needs is necessary to stimulate the creation of a monetary surplus so as to gain access to these products. The rural areas receive few goods and services that enhance the quality of life. This profound lack of a market for modern goods and the distances and difficulties of road communications between villages and supply centers are significant obstacles to increased productivity.

4. Gender relations tend to limit the agricultural output of certain underprivileged social categories such as women, youth, migrants, etc. Some of the factors that limit the productivity of such groups are difficult access to land most particularly, the issue of land tenure security, difficult access to the means and techniques of production, and difficult access to extension services.

2.3.3 Poverty and socioeconomic characteristics Education and poverty

Burkina Faso is still one of the countries where the educational situation remains worrisome. According to the results of the EBCVM, the gross enrollment ratio at the primary level, which was 40.9 percent in 1998, rose to 44.1 percent in 2003. This means that nearly 56 percent of Burkinabè children of school age were still excluded from the system in 2003. However, progress was noted at the start of the 2003/2004 school year, when the gross enrollment ratio rose above the 50 percent mark to 52.3 percent. In addition, there are differences according to area of residence, gender, and administrative region. The gross enrollment ratio is in fact three times higher in the city than in the countryside (101.9 percent versus 34.1 percent). As regards the administrative regions, the central, Hauts Bassins, and west central regions have higher enrollment ratios than the national average, at 94.4 percent, 56.7 percent, and 56.1 percent respectively. The Sahel region has the lowest enrollment ratio, at 22 percent. In terms of gender, the percentage of boys of school age enrolled in the system exceeds the percentage of girls by 11.4 points: 49.6 percent of boys versus 38.2 percent of girls.

The literacy rate rose from 18.9 percent in 1998 to 21.8 percent in 2003 but, according to the latest MEBA statistics, the rate is now 32.5 percent. The literacy rate is unevenly distributed by gender and by area of residence.

The results of the Burkinabè Survey of Household Living Conditions indicate that the literacy rate of the poor is half the national average and a fourth of the literacy rate of the rich, which is 42.1 percent.

With respect to gender, the survey indicates that the literacy rate for men improved by 2.3 percentage points between 1994 and 2003, rising from 27.1 percent to 29.4 percent; over the same period the literacy rate for women rose by just 1.1 percentage point, from 11.4 percent to 12.5 percent.

As regards area of residence, those living in urban areas are often more literate (56.3 percent) than those in rural areas (12.5 percent). Between 1994 and 2003, the literacy rate in urban areas improved by 9.1 percentage points, compared to an improvement of just 5.9 points in rural areas.

In terms of the administrative regions, the central, western, and west central regions once again had the highest rates, while the south central and Sahel regions recorded the lowest rates in 2003.

For secondary and higher education, in 2003 the gross enrollment ratios at the national level were 15.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. All the trends identified with respect to the literacy rate and the gross enrollment ratio at the primary level are echoed in these findings (see Table 6).

Table 6:

Education indicators in 2003

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Source: INSD, Report analyzing the results of EBCVM 2003.

The determinants of urban and rural poverty

In his study on the dynamics of poverty in Burkina Faso—analytical aspects, conducted in September 2001, Jean-Pierre Lachaud highlights several determining factors of poverty in both rural and urban areas: the level of education of the head of household and other adult members of the group, the gender of the head of household, the number of children under 14 in the household, the household head’s access to employment, the “marital status and type of household” variable, etc.

Regardless of the area of residence, the education of the head of household and other adult members of the group has a positive influence on a household’s per capita consumption: households in which the head or other adult members have attained a high level of education are characterized by greater spending than uneducated households. However, this education level effect would appear to be more pronounced in urban than in rural areas.

With respect to gender, in both urban and rural areas the comparative advantage in terms of well-being favored households headed by men in both 1994 and 1998, but the analysis shows progress during the same period in the living standards of households headed by women. Contrary to educational level, it is in the rural areas that the gender of the household head has the greatest effect on household well-being.

As regards marital status and type of household, groups whose head is married or is running a single-parent family have a high level of well-being. In both urban and rural areas, this variable captures effects related to household size, but the demographic effect of the household is generally expressed through the relative weight of children under 14 and elderly persons.

In both urban and rural areas, the presence of a large number of children under 14 in the household has a negative influence on the household’s well-being. The negative effect of the relative weight of children is more pronounced in urban than in rural areas. The relative weight of elderly persons is also more significant in the urban areas, where, paradoxically, it has a positive effect on households’ per capita consumption.

Finally, the head of household’s access to employment is a factor in raising the household’s per capita consumption level, especially in the case of households headed by a protected wage-earner. In rural areas, between 1994 and 1998, the relative gains in terms of per capita consumption, i.e. the relative improvement in well-being, of households headed by an unprotected wage-earner dwindled, and their well-being shortfall in relation to the households of protected wage-earners grew by over 50 percent. The same trend applied to self-employed nonfarm workers and the unemployed. The phenomenon underscored here is the precarious nature of the status of unprotected work in rural areas. Health and nutrition

The data from the Burkinabè survey of household living conditions in 2003 can be used to assess the health and nutritional situation, basically through the overall morbidity rate, the health consultation rate, the indicators of access to healthcare services in general and maternal healthcare in particular, the HIV/AIDS indicators, stunted growth in children, and the incidence of underweight children under the age of 5. Analysis of all these indicators shows that the health situation is worrisome.

The overall morbidity rate, which measures the general status of health, was 5.8 percent in 2003, meaning that almost six of every 100 persons experienced at least one illness. This rate was an improvement over 1998, when the rate was 7.1 percent, i.e. a difference of 1.3 percentage point. In 2003, the rate was 6.8 percent in urban areas, versus 5.3 percent in rural areas.

In terms of the spatial analysis, the administrative regions of the central plateau (8.3 percent), the southwest (7.6 percent), the center (7.3 percent), and the east central region (6.9 percent) all have morbidity rates above the national average. The regions with the lowest rates are the Cascades (3.9 percent), the north (4 percent), and the east (4 percent).

The health consultation rate in 2003 was 4.2 percent. It is higher in urban areas (5.8 percent) than in rural areas (3.8 percent). It is substantially the same between women and men (4.4 percent and 4 percent respectively) but differs by region, ranging between 6.6 percent and 2.2 percent. In the central plateau (6.6 percent), center (6.1 percent), and east central region (5.2 percent), inhabitants have more consultations in health facilities (16.6 percent), while the health consultation rate is lowest (3.7 percent) in the north (2.2 percent), south central (2.7 percent), east (3.4 percent), Boucle du Mouhoun (3.6 percent), Cascades (3.6), and Sahel (3.7 percent) regions.

In general, the people of Burkina Faso visit the Health and Social Promotion Centers (CSPSs) most frequently, but the proportion of individuals visiting them is declining: the CSPSs provided 48.1 percent of all consultations in 2003, versus 57.5 percent in 1998. Among referral facilities (Medical Centers/Medical Centers with surgical wards, Regional Hospital Centers, National Hospital Centers), only the Regional Hospital Centers saw their proportion of visits increase, from 5.3 percent to 8.3 percent. The proportion of persons using the services of traditional healers (marabouts and pharmacopoeists) practically doubled (15.7 percent in 2003 versus 8.8 percent in 1998).

A population’s access to healthcare services can be measured by the length of the trip between home and a health facility. Overall, 35.3 percent of the population is located within 30 minutes (the official standard) of a healthcare facility. However, as Table 7 shows, this figure masks tremendous disparities. Nearly three-fourths of urban residents (74.3 percent), versus just one-fourth of rural residents (26.6 percent), have access to healthcare services. At the regional level, only three regions—Hauts Bassins (46.6 percent), the north (42.6 percent), and the center (79.3 percent)—have higher rates of access than the national average; most of the other regions have rates below 30 percent. The situation is particularly troublesome in the southwestern region, where only 5.3 percent of the population is located within 30 minutes of a healthcare facility.

Table 7:

Status of a few health indicators in Burkina Faso in 2003

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Source: INSD, Report analyzing the results of EBCVM 2003
Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Breakdown (%) of consultations by type of facility/practitioner consulted in 1998 and 2003

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001

In the area of maternal health, in 2003, 73.3 percent of women who had a live birth during the preceding year had received prenatal care. The proportion of women giving birth in a health facility (maternity clinic or hospital) returned to its 1993 level (43 percent) after the decline recorded in 1998 (27 percent). Over the last five years, 44.2 percent of births were attended by qualified personnel (doctors, nurses, and midwives); this figure is 3.8 percentage points higher than the figure given by the 2003 demographic and health survey (40.3 percent). Table 8 shows a few indicators of maternal health in 2003.

Table 8:

Maternal health indicators in 2003

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Source: INSD, Report analyzing the results EBCVM 2003.

In addition, the fertility index for women between the ages of 15 and 49 has steadily declined, from 6.9 percent in 1993 to 6.8 percent in 1999 and 6.2 percent in 2003. The decline in the fertility index was thus more pronounced between 1999 and 2003 than between 1993 and 1999 owing to the increasing use of contraceptive methods.

In 2003, the rate of prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the general population was estimated at 1.9 percent, i.e. a decline of nearly 5 percentage points since 1999. Knowledge of HIV/AIDS increased substantially among women between the ages of 15 and 64 (96 percent in 2003 versus 87 percent in 1998); among men in the same age bracket, knowledge of the modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS increased from 96 percent to 97 percent. Generally speaking, the population has a good understanding of the modes of transmission of this pandemic, but the use of condoms as a means of prevention remains low (6.6 percent in the case of women and 23.4 percent in the case of men).

Indicators of child mortality improved slightly between 1993 and 2003 as shown in Table 9. With the exception of the infant and child mortality rate and the post-neonatal mortality rate, which rose between 1993 and 1998, other indicators showed substantial declines.

Table 9:

Changes in child mortality in Burkina Faso between 1993 and 2003

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Source: INSD, Analytic reports of the 1993, 1999, and 2003 demographic and health surveys

With respect to nutritional status, the Burkinabè Survey of Household Living Conditions (EBCVM) indicates that 44.5 percent of Burkinabè children experience growth retardation. Malnutrition more often affects children in rural areas (46.8 percent) than those in urban areas (29.7 percent). The east (59.9 percent) and the central plateau (52.2 percent) are the regions most affected by growth retardation. Insufficient body weight affects 42.2 percent of the children in Burkina Faso, particularly in rural areas. In the eastern and east central regions, more than 50 percent of the children are affected. Finally, the prevalence of growth retardation (emaciation) affects 19 percent of the children in Burkina Faso.

Table 10:

Nutrition indicators in 2003

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Source: INSD, Report analyzing the results of EBCVM 2003. Safe drinking water

The situation with respect to safe drinking water supply is characterized by an improved rate of coverage as a result of the efforts made to equip the country with tubewells and other sources of supply. The proportion of households using water from tubewells increased from 31 percent in 1998 to 40.4 percent in 2003. As regards hygiene and sanitation, the situation is even more worrisome in both rural and urban areas, heightening the risks of mortality and morbidity attributable to waterborne diseases associated with unhealthy water and habitat: 4.2 percent of rural households still consume water from rivers and streams.

Roughly 90 percent of households drew water from dug wells, tubewells, or public taps in both 1998 and 2003. The use of taps, however, increased moderately between 1998 and 2003 in urban areas, while the use of tubewells grew somewhat in rural areas, compared to other sources of safe drinking water. These trends reflect an improvement in the quality of safe drinking water available to households. Yet safe drinking water remains scarce in certain regions, particularly Boucle du Mouhoun (33.7 percent), the west (54.6 percent), and the southwest (59.6 percent). The favorable results are partly due to the national policy on safe drinking water (“Safe drinking water for all in 2000”). Thanks to vigorous implementation of this policy, the southwest, which in 1994 drew 68 percent of its water from rivers (i.e. nonpotable sources), reduced this source to 25.4 percent in 2003. However, the data collection period in 2003 (during the dry season) does not rule out the possibility that rivers and streams were little used because they had dried up. Living conditions

The quality of the residence, which brings together a number of components that make the dwelling comfortable or uncomfortable, is analyzed from a number of different perspectives: the kind of walls, floor, and roofs, the method of wastewater disposal, the type of toilet, the presence of electricity, and the type of energy used for cooking. For this human development indicator, the divide between cities and villages is enormous.

Of all household amenities, electricity is the one that can help change a person’s way of life substantially. In rural areas of Burkina Faso, fewer than 1 percent of households had access to electricity in 1994, and no real progress was recorded in 2003 (barely 1.1 percent). It is true that Burkina Faso has not yet adopted a rural electrification policy, perhaps because service is still insufficient to meet demand in urban areas. The proportion of urban households in dwellings served by electricity has increased only slightly, from 29 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 1998 and 45.7 percent in 2003. A majority of city dwellers still use kerosene lamps for lighting: 69 percent in 1994 and 51.8 percent in 2003.

One important finding is that urban households in the lowest standard-of-living quintiles made no substantial progress in terms of electric supply between 1994 and 2003. This is due to a large gap between supply and steadily growing demand, as outlying areas are increasingly occupied. Employment, level of education, and poverty

Participation in the labor market and the level of human capital endowment appear to be determining factors in guaranteeing individuals’ access to employment and income stability with a view to reducing poverty. In 2003, the rate of participation in the labor market by persons between the ages of 15 and 60 was estimated at 87.3 percent and 64.8 percent in rural and urban areas, respectively. It was 87.8 percent for men and 77.7 percent for women. Such participation is linked to several factors, including:

  • the level of education of individuals: the supply of work is highly sensitive to education for persons between the ages of 15 and 60 in rural areas, whereas in urban areas this high sensitivity applies to young people (girls and boys);

  • the standard of living of households: the labor supply rate is 71.5 percent for poor households and 60.1 percent for rich households; this result shows the low productivity of the work performed by the former. The variation in the labor supply rate based on standard of living is related to the presence of secondary members in these households, particularly in urban areas. It reflects the survival strategies of households in general and likely masks the phenomenon of child labor.

In this regard, several elements of the analysis indicate that focusing economic policy on non-vulnerable employment and more effective participation in the labor market is likely to help reduce poverty in the medium or long term.

Women’s access to employment represents, to some extent, a step toward autonomy. Yet, in the case of poor women, access to employment usually means farm work or self-employed nonfarm work, specifically through their inclusion in the informal sector. Moreover, a deterioration has been observed in the standard of living of households managed by women engaged in these two types of work. All these factors point to the difficulties of inclusion of the majority of women and the ineffectiveness of the informal sector in creating opportunities for bringing men and women more into line with one another.

Another aspect of employment is its distribution by work category, area of residence, gender, and type of household. In this regard, the studies indicate that the labor market is structured around three major productive systems: the agricultural sector, the rural (essentially agricultural) and urban (essentially non-agricultural) informal sector, and the essentially urban modern sector (formal public and private sector wage-earners).

2.3.4 Other determinants

Poverty depends on the availability and yield of a set of human and social physical assets. These assets are usually governed by the market and a multitude of institutions, standards, and values. Among these assets, land, productive capital, and certain financial services appear to be determining factors when the objective is to provide the poor with income-generating opportunities. Access of the poor to land

The legal provisions establishing the Agrarian and Land Tenure Reorganization (RAF) have been revisited on a number of occasions in order reflect changes in national realities. Implementation remains limited, even though it is imperative for poverty reduction initiatives; the distribution and ownership of land, particularly land suitable for cultivation (including the issuance of title deeds), have a major impact on the production, incomes, and living conditions of poor rural households.

Apart from its significance as a productive agricultural resource, land also holds value as the principal asset and property of poor households. It can also be assigned a trade value so as to promote the most effective use of this natural resource, out of several possible uses, and thereby contribute to improving the well-being of the poor. Finally, in connection with financing micro-infrastructure or income-generating activities, land, often the sole asset of poor households, can stand as collateral for credits or loans. Access of the poor to productive capital and financial services

With respect to improving the living conditions and incomes of poor groups, access of the poor to productive capital and appropriate technologies provides access to employment or an income-generating activity and, as a consequence, to financial capital and, more specifically, credit. Apart from the recognized impact of savings and credit on poverty reduction and increasing incomes, the key question for the development of microcredit targeting the poor revolves around financial intermediation, which serves to bring together the supply and demand of funds through professionals.

In this area, the Burkinabe authoritieè have introduced financial instruments such as the support fund for employment promotion, the support fund for the informal sector, the support fund for women’s income-generating activities, and the support project for promoting small and medium enterprise. These funds supplement initiatives developed by cooperation agencies involved in small enterprise development: the Ouagadougou small enterprise support unit, the business management support bureau for the Bobo-Dioulasso region, etc. These funds have been used to finance a number of projects and create a number of jobs, but they remain limited in terms of their capacity to meet the needs of the target population.

As a general rule, however, financial intermediation has barely touched the poorest areas and households. The economy of the poor remains illiquid because of the nonexistence of banks in their vicinity and the scarcity of microcredit organizations. Thus, they can neither accumulate savings nor gain access to credit. From the perspective of human poverty reduction, there is a need to increase the supply of microfinancing in order to propose a varied range of essential activities for improving the living conditions of the poor, satisfying their basic needs, and building their capacities.

While there are many causes of poverty, there is a well recognized correlation between the creation of wealth and access to financing. Indeed, difficulties in acquiring productive assets are just as critical as problems of access to training, production techniques, and information systems; moreover, in many cases these difficulties can only be resolved through access to borrowing. Even traditional wisdom holds that a person needs borrowed money to escape from poverty.

From a structural perspective, i.e. with a view to a long-term development framework, the search for adequate financing of the economy cannot sustainably rely on the existing scheme, which excludes a wide segment of the population, especially within a context of great poverty.

Based on the preceding analysis, it appears that, in addition to ecological and geographic factors, poverty in Burkina Faso is primarily attributable to:

  • an uncompetitive economy, growing at a modest rate that cannot generate sufficient income and employment for a large portion of the uneducated population and that also cannot generate sufficient resources for the Government to provide basic socioeconomic services;

  • the low literacy rate and educational level of the population, which receives little healthcare and faces the risk of AIDS.

In recent years, poverty has not declined as might have been expected since the economy has been growing at a rate of more than 5 percent. Overall, poverty has remained stable, with a slight decrease in rural areas offset by a substantial increase in urban areas. Monetary poverty in Burkina Faso has stayed basically the same, but the structural changes now under way are likely to grow stronger. The dynamics of poverty are closely related to the existence and development of inequalities. Disparities in spending, which have remained stable at the national level, have decreased in rural areas but increased in urban areas. This growth in inequalities in urban areas has more than counterbalanced the reductions in real spending, thus explaining the increase in urban poverty, while the decline in disparities in rural areas has helped slow the growth of poverty there.

Other improvements have occurred to varying degrees, if economic growth is assumed to have a positive effect on the incidence of poverty. The reduction of inequalities in rural areas can be interpreted as a sign of pro-poor growth. This conclusion is corroborated by the analysis of urban centers, which indicates that the distribution component is positive, exceeding the growth effect in the two large cities of the country. In addition, in the Sahel, west central, and north central regions, where the incidence of poverty registered a statistically significant decline between 1994 and 2003, the effects of inequality have certainly exceeded the effects of growth, indicating a redistribution in favor of poor populations. The results are thus mixed, both at the macroeconomic level and in terms of key social sectors (with timid progress in the education and health sectors), but nonetheless encouraging, pointing to the necessity of maintaining efforts to strengthen the foundations of growth and ensure the cohesiveness of sector policies.

Poverty reduction in Burkina Faso basically means reducing the poverty of the population living in rural areas, which accounted for more than 92 percent of the poor in 2003, 94 percent in 1998, and 96 percent in 1994. It can only result from growth in rural incomes and improvements in rural living conditions. Support for the diversification of current income sources such as farming and stockraising is of fundamental importance, but should be accompanied by a search for additional income sources stemming from diversification of the economic activities of the rural areas and increased working time. At this level, poverty reduction requires sustained actions to reduce the disparities of access to physical assets (land, equipment, financial resources) and human assets (education, skills, healthcare, nutrition). It also requires that actions be undertaken to stimulate a greater return on such these assets.

The risk of urbanization of poverty appears to be linked to three factors:

  • heightened tensions over the urban labor market in relation to migratory flows: immigrant populations have little education and few skills for securing gainful employment and contribute to the growing number of unprotected wage-earners;

  • the increasingly precarious nature of the urban working conditions in terms of incomes and protection;

  • the scope of female unemployment: despite its marginal character, female unemployment reflects a number of difficulties of access to the labor market and capital for women in the large cities.

Support for growth should thus be reflected in greater access to production factors such as land, credit, technologies and information, and greater investment in infrastructure. At the same time, the conditions for access to basic social services such as water, healthcare, and education, which differ greatly between rural and urban areas, must be a priority of the poverty reduction strategy.



Implementing the poverty reduction strategy requires huge resources. For this reason, the Government opted to pool public and private resources to achieve the poverty reduction objectives it set itself. While securing the gains already made and deepening the reforms initiated earlier under various programs, the Government set about mobilizing all the resources available to implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

Overall, for the period 2000–2002, CFAF 1,306.6 billion in financing (excluding debt) was injected into the economy. Current expenditure expanded more rapidly than capital expenditure, by 9.9 percent as against a mere 1 percent a year, respectively.

Capital expenditure in particular was supported by all the technical and financial partners in the context of official development assistance, most of it highly concessional and predominantly in grant form. All told, external financing (excluding HIPC resources), with a strong focus on the social sectors and rural development, came to CFAF 496.8 billion for the period 2000–2002, leaving a shortfall of CFAF 41 billion compared with the PRSP estimates. Nevertheless this gap was substantially narrowed by budgetary support (totaling CFAF 159.1 billion), thus illustrating the partners’ commitment to making the PRSP the framework par excellence for mobilizing resources. Nevertheless, the implementation rate for externally financed projects was 71 percent, a reflection of the economy’s chronically low absorptive capacity.

The functional analysis of expenditure shows that the priority ministries did actually benefit from large shares of the financing mobilized for the following portfolios. Those benefiting were: basic education (12.94 percent), infrastructure (11.63 percent), agriculture, water, and fisheries (10.78 percent), and health (9.9 percent). This is to some degree a reflection of the consistency between the budgetary process and the priorities in the PRSP. However, it bears noting that some expenditure made to benefit the priority sectors was recorded on the accounts under shared interministerial expenditure, a category which continues to grow. Such expenditure accounted for 8.56 percent of total public expenditure over the period 2000–2002 and posted an average annual growth rate of 18.7 percent. In future, analysis will be facilitated by disaggregating the data on public resource allocation to the priority sectors.

As regards the implementation of the HIPC Initiative to reduce the debt of the heavily indebted poor countries, the amounts mobilized have reached CFAF 54.3 billion, of which 64 percent has been expended. This is yet again a reflection of low absorptive capacity at the sectoral level.


3.2.1 Pillar 1: Accelerating broad-based growth Stabilization of the macroeconomic framework

Over the period 2000–2002 the economy operated under the influence of particularly severe exogenous shocks (rise of the dollar and the price of oil, adverse climatic conditions, a decline in repatriated savings, and a return en masse of Burkinabè nationals previously residing abroad). Given the context, the economic growth recorded did not make it possible to trigger any significant improvement in the incomes of the most disadvantaged population groups. Real GDP growth averaged 4.3 percent as against population growth of 2.4 percent. There has been a reversal of the trend in the GDP structure with an increasingly large share contributed by the tertiary sector at 43.4 percent, followed by the primary sector at 39.5 percent and the secondary sector at 17.1 percent. This growth was coupled with a firm grip on prices, which rose on average by 2.3 percent, in line with the community criterion (no higher than 3 percent).

On the budget side, the tax collection efforts and the tax reforms undertaken allowed for steady growth in receipts. However, the tax ratio (10.6 percent of GDP on average) still remains low relative to the community criterion (17 percent). Furthermore, the current revenue structure points up the preponderance of export and import taxation over domestic taxation. This state of affairs can be explained by the narrowness of the tax base and some collection-related difficulties.

Budgetary savings declined over the years, from CFAF 40.4 billion in 2000 to CFAF 22.4 billion in 2002, indicating a sharper rise in current expenditure, at an annual rate of 12.1 percent, than in current revenue, at a rate of 6.8 percent, thus reducing the capacity to self-finance investment. Nevertheless, efforts have been keep made to keep the ratio of self-financed investment to tax receipts at a level some 13 points higher than the community criterion, which is a minimum of 20 percent.

Despite efforts to bring the wage bill under control, it remains quite high (44.3 percent of annual tax receipts on average) as against the community objective of 35 percent maximum.

In relative terms, the basic overall budget deficit (on a commitments basis and including grants) deteriorated over the period (4.8 percent of GDP in 2002 compared to 3.9 percent in 2000), or more than four points above the zero-deficit community criterion.

The overall outstanding balance of the central government’s external debt is still constraining from the sustainability standpoint (at 50.4 percent of current GDP on average), despite some relief brought about by implementation of the HIPC Initiative. The rate of indebtedness, however, is in line with the community target, which is a maximum of 70 percent. Moreover, thanks to better scheduling of payments, there are no more payments arrears on the debt, which is in keeping with the community criterion.

In the area of foreign trade, the structural deficit in the trade balance eased somewhat over the period. The result was a reduction in the external current account deficit (excluding grants), which dropped from 12.3 percent of GDP in 2000 to 9.1 percent in 2002, despite a marked decline in private transfers, itself a reflection of the unfavorable economic climate in the subregion. Despite these efforts to curb the current external deficit, the current level is close to double that of the community criterion of 5 percent.

Table Error! Not a valid link. shows the situation in Burkina Faso vis à vis WAEMU convergence criteria.

Table 11:

WAEMU convergence criteria—compliance status

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Source: CID-TOFE, IAP. Competitiveness of the national economy

The Central Government continued its economic liberalization program by welcoming to the market new entrants (or “marketers” as they are styled) and setting up new retail outlets on the hydrocarbons distribution market. The legal and regulatory provisions applicable to the national commission on competition and consumption were revised, and the gradual dismantling of the protection extended to industrial units, initiated in 1996 in the WAEMU area, has been continued the privatization program. However, as there has yet to be an evaluation of this privatization program, it is difficult to state with certainty that the job market has been revitalized or private investment increased.

The entry into operation of the one-stop shops for legal formalities and the opening of a trade point have considerably shortened the processing times for applications to start businesses (from 3 months to 15 days) as reduced the number of formalities (from 15 to 8). In addition, the Government has put in place a private sector support project which resulted in the creation of the House of Business, and also established a framework for regular dialogue with private sector operators. In any event, the Government is still cognizant of the need to remove all constraints of a structural and institutional nature so as to improve competitiveness.

With regard to reducing factor costs, looking beyond the telecommunications sector where it is abundantly clear that significant improvements have been made, the costs of energy (electricity) and water continue to undermine the competitiveness of production units.

Given the difficulties being experienced by the private sector in financing its activities, the Government established a number of financing mechanisms, including the support fund for income-generating activities for women; the microenterprise support project; the informal sector support project; the employment promotion fund—all of them to support SME/SMI promotion, as well as the interbank guarantee fund (created in 2003). Competition in the financial sector has also spurred the emergence of new products including hire purchase arrangements that are more suited to the development needs of SMEs and SMIs. In addition to this type of financing there have been contributions from the decentralized financial system, in which practices will be harmonized. Transport development and support for the productive sectors

Initiatives over the period 2000–2002 were focused on asphalt-paving 411 kilometers of new roads, rehabilitating another 261 kilometers, and conducting routine maintenance on more than 760 kilometers. Nevertheless, even though significant strides have been made in road transport, other types of transport faced huge difficulties, in particular air transport—with the demise of the multinational “Air Afrique”—and rail transport, where operations slowed before being suspended since the start of the sociopolitical crisis in CÔte d’Ivoire. It is worth underscoring that since the Ivorian crisis, the national road network is being overused, thereby accelerating wear and tear. The Government will have to pursue its efforts to maintain its quality.

3.2.2 Pillar 2: Promoting access to basic social services by the poor Developments in the education system

In its 10-year basic education development plan (PDDEB), the Government set itself the ambitious objectives of rousing the educational system from its lethargy and boosting the gross primary school enrollment ratio from 40.3 percent in 1999 to 70 percent by 2010, with special emphasis on increasing enrollment of girls, which should increase from 36 percent to 65 percent over this period. In this context, actions were implemented with the assistance of the Government’s development partners, making it possible to increase the enrollment and teaching capacity of the system, as well as making education more affordable.

Experiments have been run with nonformal basic education formulas, with results that were encouraging, particularly in terms of reducing the inequalities between girls and boys and better preparing small children for school. However, they were too limited in scope to have any significant impact on the system as a whole.

Thus, for example, enrollment in nonformal basic education centers doubled between 2001 and 2002, climbing from 1,100 to 2,062, with dramatically higher enrollment of girls (up from 38 percent to 58.2 percent). But enrollment is still falling short of expectations, leaving educational infrastructure apparently underutilized. Furthermore, the fact that only a small number of such schools are constructed from lasting materials poses the problem of the durability of most of them. The situation is even more worrisome in the 20 provinces known for being the least educated or literate, where barely 19 percent of the infrastructure is permanent.

Preschool programs, intended to better prepare infants more effectively to make the transition to school, doubled their rate of enrollment from 0.72 percent in 2000 to 1.44 percent in 2002. However, they are confined to urban areas and their impact is limited in quantitative and qualitative terms. The classic preschool formula has been losing ground to the integrated early childhood development formula, in particular through the bissongo, making it possible to take into account the child’s needs through a holistic approach (nutrition, health, protection, education, and so on).

In order to increase accessibility to schooling for the poorest, measures have been taken to ease the burden on parents. Specifically, the measures include free distribution of books and fee waivers for parents. The result was a near 10 percent reduction in school fees between 2000 and 2001. Nevertheless, in an aggressive poverty reduction strategy, these measures remain inadequate.

Literacy initiatives, which had burgeoned between 2000 and 2002, began to slow down in 2002, even regressing, particularly because of the withdrawal of the WFP’s supplementary feeding program. Furthermore, 80 percent of those who complete the initial literacy cycle do not go on to the supplementary basic training cycle, and yet this is the most important if they are to improve their productivity. Most of the individuals in this situation are women (86 percent).

The joint actions of the Central Government and its development partners made it possible to increase the system’s intake and teaching capacity. The efforts were reflected in an increase in the gross enrollment ratio (GER) from 42.7 percent (36.2 percent for girls) to 45.8 percent (about 38 percent for girls). This is an annual increase of one percentage point. At this rate, it will take 20 years to reach the PDDEB target (GER of 70 percent) and even longer to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Burkina Faso’s progress toward meeting the MDGs

1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Economic growth and the impact of public policies were not enough to reduce the incidence of poverty over the period 19902–003. There was a 2 percentage point increase in poverty, which rose from 44.5 percent in 1994 to 46.4 percent in 2003. Nevertheless, possibilities for reducing absolute poverty do exist. In fact, the remarkable results recorded in terms of structural reforms (especially in the rural sector) and the positive macroeconomic results (5 percent between 1998 and 2002) suggest that there are chances for reducing poverty in the country.

As far as malnutrition is concerned, even though the share of the population with shortfalls in their minimum caloric intake dropped from 31 percent in 1990 to 24 percent in 1999, the proportion of underweight children rose, from 27 percent in 1990 to 30 percent in 1998 and 42.2 percent in 2003. However, prospects remain good for achieving this goal because of the energy and food production potential and, in particular, the promotion of information and training activities focusing on nutritional recovery.

2 Achieve universal primary education

The universal education targets will most likely not be reached by 2015 although great progress has been recorded in terms of school coverage. Even operating on the assumption that the national target of 70 percent by 2010 would be met, that is to say three percentage points more each year compared with 2004, the gross enrollment ratio (30 percent in 1990 and 52.3 percent in 2004), would probably be around 86 percent in 2015, and it would be 2020 before one could hope to achieve universal primary education.

Regarding the adult literacy rate (for ages 15–24), the country is making progress (18.4 percent in 1998 and 32 percent in 2003). If things continue at the current pace (up 2.7 percentage points annually), the national target of 40 percent by 2010 could be reached. The literacy rate would probably be about 60 percent in 2015. Nevertheless, it is expected that the pace will quicken, given the commitments undertaken recently at the topmost level aimed at bringing about a more significant reduction in illiteracy over the next 10 years.

3 Promote gender equality and empower women

It seems illusory to hope to achieve parity between boys and girls in primary education by 2005, the girl-boy ratio having moved from 0.62 in 1990 to 0.74 in 2000 and 0.76 in 2003. Even though slight progress can be noted, there is still a very long way to go. The ratio would probably be 0.78 in 2005 and it would require another 22 years of effort (or until 2025) to achieve gender parity. By the same token, in secondary education, the progress made is not enough to inspire hope that the goal will be achieved in 2005, since the girl-boy ratio moved from 0.52% in 1990 to 0.62% in 2000 and 0.81 in 2003.

There would be less work remaining than for primary education because of the encouraging work done in the period 1990–2003. It would take almost nine years (or until 2012) to expect to achieve the target of gender equality.

4 Reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate.

The results of efforts to attain the goal of reducing infant mortality by two thirds do not seem to suggest any reversal of current trends and that the goal can be attained by 2015. Nevertheless, the recent data indicate a downward trend. There was a clear improvement in the mortality rate when it shifted from 105.3 per thousand in 1998 to 83 per thousand, that is, a reduction of 22 points. With the implementation of major anti-malaria, vaccination, and epidemiological monitoring campaigns, there should be an acceleration of this trend toward the target of at least 38.2 per thousand by 2015. These performances could further improve with spurred growth in education and literacy.

5 Reduce maternal mortality by three quarters

Maternal mortality is increasingly being addressed through health facilities, and the rate is down from 566 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1993 to 484 deaths in 1998, a decline of about 14.5 percent in five years. If the efforts are continued, the rate of decline compared to 1998 could hit the 50 percent mark in 2015 (283 deaths per 100,000 live births) and draw closer to the millennium development goal set for Burkina Faso, which is 142 deaths per 100,000 live births.

With respect to reproductive health, the target will most likely not be met but meaningful progress can be observed. The 1993 Demographic and Health Survey showed a contraceptive prevalence rate of 17 percent in urban areas and 1.5 percent in rural areas. In 1998, the rates were approximately 20 percent and 3 percent, respectively, that is to say, gains of 3 and 1.5 percentage points in five years. In 2003, those rates were around 28 percent and 5 percent, respectively. More gains were made in urban areas than rural areas.

Compared with national estimates, there is still more work to be done. In fact, the national targets set were to reach in 2000 (compared with the 1993 level) a prevalence rate for modern contraceptive methods of 32 percent in urban areas and 9 percent in rural areas, or 12 and 7.5 percentage points lower than forecast.

6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

The efforts made by the authorities to intensify preventive measures and promote behavior changes appear to be yielding encouraging results. According to the results of EDS III (Demographic and Health Survey) the HIV prevalence rate was around 1.9 percent as against 4.2 percent in 2002 and 6.5 percent in 2001. If the current trend continues, despite the current population growth rate (2.37 percent annually), Burkina Faso, given the awareness raising efforts and outreach at all levels, would move from the stabilization phase of the pandemic and settle into the final phase, during which there is a more noticeable ebbing of the pandemic.

Malaria remains an endemic disease in Burkina Faso. It is the primary cause of under-five infant mortality. In 2000, malaria-induced mortality was 292 deaths per 100,000.

On the tuberculosis front, work is ongoing to define standards for all levels of the healthcare system for diagnosing and treating opportunistic infections. About 2,500 cases of tuberculosis were detected in 2001, with 1,600 cases of positive cultures (64 percent). There has been a marked drop in cases of Dracunculosis. The number of cases of Guinea worm dropped from 1,956 in 2000 to 1,031 in 2001, or a rate of decline of 47.3 percent. Deadly diseases such as meningitis, measles, and cholera persist.

7 Ensure environmental sustainability

The Burkinabè authorities have been mainstreaming the principles of sustainable development in national policies and have specific programs in place by subsector, geared toward increasing the protection and rational management of natural resources: national land management program, forestry program, national program for combating desertification, and the integrated water management program, national climate change early warning, and national biological diversity action plan. The national sustainable development strategy and the decentralized rural development policy letter were adopted to serve as frames of reference and the framework for harmonizing the different programs aimed at achieving sustainable development.

As far as access to safe drinking water is concerned, 42 percent of households drew water from protected wells and tubewells in 1998, compared with 41 percent in 1994. Between 1998 and 2003, the share of households using tubewells grew by 31.2 percent, accompanied by a reduction in those drinking water from rivers (-56.7 percent). These results are quite encouraging given the importance of the waterworks and hydraulic infrastructure completed in Burkina Faso. If the current trends continue, it will be possible to provide comfortably for the safe drinking water needs of over 73 percent of the population by 2015.

8 Develop a global partnership for development

Burkina Faso has benefited from debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Implementation of the decisions should result in the freeing up of US$829 million (in NPV terms) over the period 2000–2017, which will be allocated to meet the basic social development needs of the country.

With regard to the transfers of official development assistance, the country has received an annual average of US$400 million since devaluation, involving over 50 bilateral and multilateral donors and impacting more than 500 projects and programs in all sectors of the country’s economic and social life. The health sector

Efforts to provide more healthcare resulted in the building and standardization of health units, as well as the recruitment and deployment of staff in the rural areas (some 3,000 staff) making it possible, among other things, to standardize the health and social promotion centers in terms of minimum paramedical staff.

The effectiveness of the healthcare services was also increased when over sixty general practitioners completed specialized training (82 physicians were trained in essential surgery between 2000 and 2002 and deployed in 21 health districts).

There was a relative improvement in the availability and financial accessibility of medicines and consumables in outlying units.

There was a clear improvement in immunization coverage. Between 2000 and 2002, the coverage rate for BCG antigens rose from 80 percent to 90.35 percent; for DTCP3 it moved from 57 percent to 69.1 percent, for measles, 59 percent to 64 percent, and lastly, for yellow fever, from 56 percent to 61.3 percent.

Nevertheless, the use of health units, gauged by the number of new visits per person per year in the first tier centers (CSPS, CMA), rose only slightly (from 0.21 percent in 2000 to 0.25 percent in 2002).

Lasting improvement in the demand side of healthcare services remains a priority and requires the definition and implementation of solidarity mechanisms to provide access to and finance healthcare.

It is important to continue actions already undertaken to boost the supply side of healthcare for the poorest by increasing infrastructure and staff as well as upgrading existing skills.

The battle against HIV/AIDS is today a major development concern.

As a result of the institutional measures and initiatives developed to further engage grassroots communities and reduce the price of ARVs the prevalence of infection has been reduced (4.2 percent in 2002 as against 6.5 percent at end-2001 and 7.17 percent in 1997), according to the data collected from sentinel sites (using the WHO/UNAIDS method). The results of the demographic and health survey (EDS III) point to an improvement in the situation, with the 2003 rate of seroprevalance estimated at 1.9 percent.

The fact is that despite this slight decline, the impact of this epidemic on productive capacities is such that this area will require that work be continued and intensified. Since the first AIDS cases appeared in 1986, the number grew exponentially to reach some 20,000 in 2002 (Figure 5).

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

Trends in the number of AIDS cases and running total from 1986 to 2002

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2005, 338; 10.5089/9781451803815.002.A001


The gravity and complexity of the problems posed by the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS led to the epidemic being viewed not only as a public health issue, but as a development issue.

The consequences of HIV/AIDS in the economic and social sectors as a whole are clearly visible. On farms, for example, they take the form of a chain of successive repercussions: weaker and less manpower to work the farms and less financial resources. Furthermore, remittances from migrants (on average CFAF 40 billion to CFAF 45 billion annually from 1990 to 1999) are put to multiple uses. Remittances have dwindled because of AIDS and this has an effect on the rural landscape. The impact of HIV/AIDS is increasingly visible among the work force, affecting income levels, the well-being of households, and the production structure of the economy.

Burkina Faso has posted a decline in the prevalence rate, estimated at 1.9 percent in 2003 as against 4.2 percent in 2002, 6.5 percent in 2001 and 7.17 percent in 1997, a drop of almost five percentage points in 7 years; nevertheless, it remains one of the most severely affected countries in the subregion. The relative decline in the rate reflects a stabilizing trend in HIV prevalence, especially if one considers the trends in HIV prevalence based on tests conducted in the target group of women seeking prenatal care. (Table 12).

Table 12:

Average HIV prevalence rate in pregnant women by site

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Source: SP/CNLS - INSD, EDS III.(* )With the exception of Ouagadougou, the data refer to the Hauts Bassins, northern, southwestern, and east-central regions.

This stabilizing trend in HIV infection in Burkina Faso is most likely explained by the many approaches adopted in the fight against HIV/AIDS since the short- and medium-term plans were implemented and by the implementation of a multisectoral approach to the fight. These approaches include:

  • Numerous information, education, and communication campaigns supported by a campaign in all the provinces of Burkina Faso with messages promoting behavior changes;

  • Voluntary, confidential testing campaigns with a clear trend among youths toward more testing in order to know their HIV status;

  • Improvement in treatment of the sick with ARVs with emphasis on opportunistic infections;

  • Promotion of preventive means, including condoms, abstinence, and faithfulness;

  • Treatment of sexually transmitted infections in all healthcare facilities, thereby preventing HIV infection;

  • The guarantee of safe transfusions in hospitals and other healthcare facilities where blood transfusions are given;

  • A very high-profile launch of the national mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention program.

The situation of orphans worsened as the number of orphans increased exponentially. UNAIDS 2002 estimates put the number of orphaned children at 350,000 and the number of children infected with HIV/AIDS at over 2,000. The proportion of households with AIDS orphans is estimated at 42 percent in rural areas and over 45 percent in urban centers according to a study on orphans in Burkina Faso conducted in 2001. Household access to safe drinking water

With the assistance of its partners, the Government has carried out major programs to meet communities’ needs for safe drinking water. The coverage rate reached 73 percent in 2002.

With regard to access to drinking water, the urban accessibility rate was 26 percent for private homes and 52 percent for public standpipes and water supplies.

Major work was approved for secondary centers and rural areas, which yielded 2,588 water points. However, the various options for involving people in putting in place and managing water points have not yielded all the results envisaged (20 percent of the tubewells are not functional). To this end, emphasis must now be on better coordination of actions in this area, with a view to reducing the regional disparities in drinking water supply and improving the sustainable management of investments made.

In the light of the foregoing, the main issues to be addressed in the social sectors are:

  • Efficient use of resources in the social sectors;

  • Improvement of the quality of the education system;

  • Development of a coordinated literacy program;

  • Improvement in the quality of healthcare services and greater use of health units;

  • Improvement in safe drinking water supply;

  • Strengthening of the institutional coordination structure and the financing mechanism for the social sectors.

3.2.3 Pillar 3: Increasing employment and income-generating activities for the poor

Given the importance of the rural sector in terms of its share of the gainfully employed active population and its contribution to GDP, actions to increase employment and income-generating activities for the poor were largely focused on this sector. This area of activity is still essentially bound up with the vagaries of climatic conditions and the fact that new agricultural techniques have still made few inroads because of the low literacy level. The Government therefore embarked upon a series of actions, with a view to:

  • Reducing the vulnerability of the agricultural sector;

  • Intensifying and modernizing agricultural activity;

  • Increasing and diversifying rural incomes;

  • Providing consistent support to producers and ensuring that collective infrastructure is put in place;

  • Speeding the process of reducing the isolation of remote areas;

  • Increasing national solidarity and the advancement of women; and

  • Promoting employment and vocational training. Reducing the vulnerability of agricultural activities

In order to reduce the vulnerability of agricultural activities, the Government implemented “Operation Manure Pit.” Under this program, some 52,000 pits were dug in 2002 and 196,000 in 2003. Effective use of these manure pits should make it possible to increase the yields of the various crops. Some agricultural water works were developed, and cloud seeding was conducted under “Operation SAAGA” with a view to supporting agricultural activities. In a bid to better utilize water resources, experimentation with small-scale village irrigation has begun. This is promising, given the already encouraging results, provided that measures will be put in place to provide market outlets for the farmers, 49 percent of whom are women.

Furthermore, activity geared toward securing optimal, high quality animal productivity (upgrading cattle grazing areas by setting up veterinary stations and water points, delimiting pasturelands, cutting cattle paths, and intensifying the fight against common diseases) have created conditions that will ensure improved cattle production.

Nevertheless, not all the conditions for proper transhumance of livestock are in place. Care must be taken to ensure that the legal and regulatory provisions on agrarian and land tenure reorganization, as well as the law orienting use of pasturelands, are properly enforced. Intensifying and modernizing agriculture

Intensifying modernizing agriculture continued to be a major development concern for the Government. Initiatives to disseminate research findings and to improve access to equipment and agricultural inputs have impacted many farmers (40.4 percent of them women), providing them with many improved seed varieties (rice, niébé, corn, sorghum, and groundnuts) threshing and hulling equipment, and pumping equipment (foot pumps) for irrigated farms. This made it possible to improve agricultural production and make more cereals available, thereby contributing to greater food security.

Major investments were made In the cotton sector and farmers were able to benefit from innovations in seed technology and crop rearing techniques. The combined efforts of the Central Government and its development partners made it possible to increase incomes significantly in cotton production areas and distribute more than CFAF 180 billion to cotton farmers.

The sustainable intensification and modernization of agriculture depend on the Government’s continued efforts to create conditions under which more farmers can achieve secure land tenure. Increasing and diversifying rural incomes

To increase and diversify rural incomes, lending activities were strongly encouraged. About CFAF 7 billion in microcredits was distributed over the period 2000–2002. Generally speaking, such financing was for the agricultural sector (4.61 percent); the crafts sector (1.77 percent), stockraising (38.77 percent), processing (22.68 percent), and commerce (31.86 percent. Support was also extended to other sectors (fruits and vegetables, poultry farming, fish farming, forestry, and wildlife/game farming, among others) and the jobs created made it possible to distribute as much as CFAF 6 billion in income among the communities.

However, it is important that efforts be continued to create conditions in which more of the poor will gain more access to credit, especially by considering ways and means of better integrating decentralized financial systems into the modern financial system. Ongoing support to farmers and the development of shared infrastructure

With a view to supporting rural development promotion, several umbrella organizations have been set up by farmers since 2000 (UNJPA-B, FEPA-B, UNPC-B, FENOP, FENAFER-B, FEB, FNA-B). More specifically, the Faso Farmer’s Confederation was established in 2002. The Government also became heavily involved in supporting this process by implementing the action plan known as “Emergence of professional agricultural organizations” (30,515 grassroots farmers’ organizations recognized under Law No. 14/99/AN of April 15, 1999 were still extant in 2002 and 6 umbrella organizations were legally recognized), conducting regional diagnostics of professional organizations, creating regional chambers of agriculture and, more important, granting more funds to support farmers in their activities (CFAF 394.8 million disbursed at the village level and CFAF 516.9 million at the provincial level). Improving access

Efforts to improve access led to the construction of 800 kilometers of rural roads, well above the target of 300 kilometers. This improved rural communities’ physical access to schools, healthcare facilities, and markets. In addition, technical studies on 818 kilometers of roads were also conducted.

Emphasis was also placed on promoting rural electrification to promote income-generating economic activities of all types. To this end, nine secondary centers were electrified in 2000 and 125 departmental population centers have been benefiting (since 2000–2001) from the use of renewable energy sources following the installation of solar panels on certain strategic sites (prefectures, schools, CSPSs, state technical services), economic sites (markets), and cultural sites (youth centers), and, more importantly, the installation of public lighting. Moreover, the towns of PÔ and Léo were linked to the Northern Ghana power grid.

These initiatives are promising because of the encouraging results thus far and the existence of a national rural transport strategy. The necessary steps must now be taken to define and implement a plan of action; in particular, such steps must include relevant monitoring indicators. National solidarity and the advancement of women

A mechanism known as the national solidarity fund was set up to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups and those in emergency situations. In addition, a series of initiatives targeting women was developed and carried out, resulting in an improvement in their economic and social situation, particularly in the 20 most disadvantaged provinces construction and rehabilitation of shelters for women, purchase of mills, shea nut presses, cereal hulling machines, motor pumps, sewing machines, wheelbarrows, carts, etc.). These initiatives resulted in improvements in their economic and social situation.

However, given the increasingly deep social divide, relevant strategies to reduce social inequalities must be put in place, as should effective mechanisms for strengthening national solidarity. There is still a need to draft a consensus-based strategy to mainstream gender in policies and programs, because there is a need to clarify the roles of the various stakeholders in this field. Promoting employment and vocational training

The evaluation centers and vocational training centers were able to improve their performance as a result of initiatives to rehabilitate them and increase their intake as well as their pedagogical and training capacity. In addition, to improve access to financing on the part of promoters of micro and small enterprises, the capacities of the financing structures (FAPE, FASI) were strengthened. Lastly, to enhance the visibility of the labor and job market, an employment and vocational training observatory was put in place and an operational register of occupational trades and jobs is being developed.

In view of the difficulties in accessing the labor market, it is important to strengthen the national vocational training mechanism and increase the intake capacity; likewise it must be brought in line with the economic realities while facilitating access to credit for a great many individual and collective promoters.

3.2.4 Pillar 4: Promoting good governance

The national good governance plan, adopted in 1998, is the frame of reference for governance in Burkina Faso. Its implementation since 2000 has made it possible on the political front to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and on the economic front to promote transparency in budget management. Democratic governance

Significant strides were made with the regular holding of multiparty elections at the legislative and municipal levels. The strengthening of democratic culture was supported by an ongoing dialogue among the various political and social stakeholders. This dialogue was complemented by the opening up of the press freedom forum, within the framework of a new, more open information code and a policy on communication for development. The organization of the national day of pardon made it possible to guarantee that the social peace essential to development would be in place. Among the outcomes was the financial compensation of the victims of political violence. Over 300 persons were compensated in 2002 and about CFAF 1.5 billion was paid out. Efforts to promote human rights led to the establishment of a ministry in 2002 and the completion of a program of action in this field.

However, access to justice remains a priority in creating a more business-friendly and free environment where democracy is a given. The national Plan of Action for Justice Reform is designed to establish an independent, accessible justice system. To this end, the Supreme Court has been recast into four autonomous higher jurisdictions (the Council of State, Audit Office, Court of Cassation, and the Constitutional Council) and a new status for magistrates was adopted in order to guarantee full independence of the judiciary by depoliticizing that function. Nevertheless, the low number of lower jurisdictions (courts of first instance) and the capacity shortfalls at all levels tend to hamper the efficiency of the judiciary system.

Sustainable improvement in democratic governance requires the strengthening of the institutional mechanisms put in place for this purpose. Improving economic governance

In furthering the cause of economic governance the Government embarked upon a series of initiatives with its partners over the period 2000–2002 to strengthen strategic piloting and improve the day-to-day and operational management of the economy and the fight against corruption.

In terms of the strategic piloting of the economy, a forward-thinking approach was adopted within the framework of the “Burkina 2025” study with a view to developing a long-term vision of the development path of Burkinabè society and thereby have a clearer framework within which development strategies may be devised. The preliminary results of the study have made it possible to pinpoint the potential problem areas from a retrospective look at the political, economic, and social landscape, looking at strengths and weaknesses on the one hand, and on the other hand highlighting the opportunities and the threats, as well as the seeds of change. Likewise, the surveys on national aspirations included recommendations aimed at eliminating the constraints on monitoring and effectively implementing the poverty reduction policies and programs.

In respect of the day-to-day and operational management of the economy, the Government sharpened its budgetary programming and management tools. The integrated expenditure circuit was consolidated while an integrated revenue circuit is being developed. In the same vein, the preparation and drafting of the Central Government Budget were improved by making use of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which makes it possible more consistently to reflect PRSP priorities in the Budget Law. Achieving greater efficiency in public expenditure was also a constant concern that led to public expenditure reviews in the priority sectors of education, health, infrastructure, and rural development. Implementation of the recommendations of these reviews resulted in more substantial budget allocations as well as improvement in the budget implementation rates in these sectors.

Apart from its efforts to enhance the efficiency of public expenditure, the Government was keen to inculcate a culture of budget transparency and accountability. The draft settlement laws for the budgets of fiscal years 1995 through 2002 were therefore submitted to the Chamber of Accounts, which was upgraded to an autonomous and operational Audit Office in July 2002. Efforts have also been made to deconcentrate budget implementation as a means of supporting the introduction of appropriations earmarked for the priority ministries, as well as to revise government procurement procedures with a view to enhancing transparency in the Government’s contracting practices.

The annual general meetings of state enterprises and public administrative entities, as well as the meetings of project heads, constitute ownership frameworks for all those in positions of responsibility at all levels of good economic governance. Substantial progress has been made in the public management framework since 2000 with the introduction of the new merit-based evaluation system, the introduction of programming tools for the administrative units (including mission statements, performance-based contracts, activity schedules, management indicators, and activity reports), the implementation of the new by-laws governing contractual staff, and the production of job descriptions in the various areas of activity. The establishment of human resources departments and the deconcentration of the management of employee records through the Integrated State Personnel Administrative and Salary Management System (SIGASPE) currently being deployed on the Government’s shared administrative network (RESINA) are also components in the capacity-building of those tasked with effectively applying these new tools in all the administrative units.

In the fight against corruption, the Government stepped up the institutional dimension of the fight against fraud and corruption by establishing a National Ethics Committee in 2001 and the High Authority for Combating Corruption in 2002. The aim was to instill a greater moral sense in Burkinabè society and coordinate anticorruption initiatives. The emergence of a national network to combat corruption—a civil society initiative to complement the efforts of the authorities—must be highlighted in this regard. Local governance

The creation of the 13 administrative regions completes the institutional architecture for the decentralization process. However, the viability of the process is hamstrung by the failure to transfer authority and, more importantly, resources to the local government level. True, the process did allow for the renewal of the teams in 49 municipalities which are still in existence, and there was an increase in the proportion of women elected from 12 percent to 21 percent between 1995 and 2000. But citizen participation in managing the municipalities is hampered by capacity shortfalls on the political, administrative, organizational, and resource fronts. Furthermore, for the time being, the decentralization affects but 18 percent of the population and covers only 20 percent of the country. Lastly, the tardiness observed in the implementation of the comprehensive administration reform is slowing the initiatives of the sectoral ministries, in particular the ministries of education and health, which are awaiting the implementation of the legal framework for the regionalization of human resource management.

Extending the decentralization process to the rural areas in accordance with the guidelines on the decentralization process, as well as the definition of a legislative framework governing rural communes, remain priority objectives.



In 1995 the Government of Burkina Faso set forth its vision of long-term development in a letter of intent on sustainable human development policy, the ultimate goal of which was to focus the country’s development strategy on the concept of human security, thus giving every Burkinabè access to:

  • economic security, linked to access to education, vocational training, and gainful employment;

  • health security, linked to less expensive access to both preventive and curative medical care;

  • food security, linked to access to basic foods, including safe drinking water;

  • environmental security, linked to the conservation of a healthy environment;

  • individual and political security, linked to development of the positive principles of sound public management, namely the primacy of law, accountability and participation, effectiveness and transparency.

This renewed attention to economic and social policy was based on the following guidelines:

  • pursuit of maximum impact from public spending on the principal social sectors;

  • promotion of fairness and equality of opportunity between different social brackets and genders with no restrictions on public and civil liberties;

  • environmental protection;

  • human resources and employment development;

  • participation by members of civil society (particularly NGOs and associations) in the development, execution, monitoring, and evaluation of development policies and programs;

  • transparent public resource management procedures and tools.

This letter remains the conceptual framework of the national poverty reduction strategy in which the Government set for itself the following broad goals:

  • strengthen actions aimed at reducing the state of poverty and vulnerability of populations and the various disparities;

  • pursue good macroeconomic policies to achieve strong, sustainable, and more evenly distributed growth;

  • speed up and strengthen the decentralization process and actions designed to modernize government;

  • successfully integrate the country into the globalization and regionalization process.

In addition, since 1999 the Government has fostered a forward-looking debate on “Burkina 2025,” the objective of which is to encourage social dialogue on the major development issues as a way to further clarify the vision of the country’s future a generation from now.

The results of the different stages of this forward-looking national study confirm the urgent need to promote human security by attacking poverty from a structural perspective, i.e. as a strategic objective that must absolutely be achieved in the long term. To achieve this objective of a structural nature, special attention should be given to three key elements, as follows:

  • the requirements of good governance;

  • the foundations of cultural integration and openness;

  • the platform of factors and stakeholders.

The basic philosophy underlying this perception is that the Burkinabè people should rely on their own values, coupled with the requirements of good governance, i.e. governance that is both visionary and ambitious. This means, on the one hand, making the fight against corruption a catalyst for the inclusion of identifying reference points as a tool of governance and, on the other hand, eliminating the prejudices concerning the informal sector and tourism because of their major role in poverty reduction.

Furthermore, the dynamic of regional integration should be considered as an action-based variable that will enable Burkina Faso to participate more effectively in the globalization process.


The major quantitative objectives set by the Government for the coming years are to: (i) increase per capita gross domestic product by at least 4 percent per year beginning in 2004; (ii) reduce the current incidence of poverty to less than 35 percent by 2015; and (iii) increase life expectancy to at least 60 by 2015. These objectives fall within the framework of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the goals set forth by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

To meet these development objectives, the Government has set specific objectives in a number of priority sectors. Achieving these objectives will have a significant impact on poverty reduction.

4.2.1 Education

In general, education appears to be the central concern of government officials inasmuch as education permits optimal development of human resources and constitutes an important instrument for poverty reduction and improving the well-being of the population.

The overall policy for developing the educational system through 2010 is based on four principles:

  • expand basic education to include the first cycle of secondary education;

  • increase the coverage of basic education while improving its quality;

  • ensure balanced development of the educational system in order to meet the needs of the economy with respect to both quantity and quality;

  • develop a specific and consistent program to provide broad opportunities for effective literacy training to adults in general and women in particular.

The Government’s option for the coming years is to undertake the quantitative and qualitative development of basic education and literacy training. The goal is also to strive for better overall balance in the system, address the aspirations of the population in this area, and develop the foundations for meeting the requirements of the economy in the context of globalization and regionalization.

The experience of PDDEB implementation in recent years shows a very timid rate of change in the indicators. Yet accelerated development of basic education remains essential for the poverty reduction strategy to succeed. This being so, the Government will maintain its quantitative objectives in this area over the coming years. However, achievement of these objectives should be accompanied by more effective organization and more vigorous action on the part of all involved in education.

The objectives for the coming years are to:

  • increase, at a reasonable cost, the gross enrollment ratio in primary school to 70 percent by 2010, especially for children and girls in rural areas, and improve the quality and effectiveness of the system;

  • develop and diversify literacy training activities and approaches so as to raise the literacy rate to 40 percent by 2010, especially for women and inhabitants of underprivileged areas;

  • improve the availability and supervision of preschool education as a framework for early learning and preparation for primary school;

  • improve the quality of learning and teaching so as to reduce the waste associated with high numbers of school year repeaters and drop-outs;

  • build the management capacity of schools, inspectorates, and regions, as well as MEBA’s steering capacity, commensurate with the very rapid growth in the volume of activities that will be generated by the country’s decentralization and deconcentration program and policy.

To consolidate the progress made toward achieving these objectives, a decisive impetus will thus be given to the educational system as a whole, in order to increase supply while endeavoring to eliminate disparities of all types. In this regard, the Ten-Year Plan for Basic Education Development (PDDEB) will be strengthened by the various initiatives mentioned above.

Along the same lines, nonformal educational outreach will be strengthened through a “just do it” approach and by building up the national fund for literacy training and nonformal education.

Table 13:

Harmonization of indicators from the PRSP and the various phases of the PDDEB

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Source: DEP/MEBA, 2003. Other types of education

From the perspective of expanding the concept of basic education and balanced development of the education system, the Government will develop and implement a cohesive program for developing other types of education. Special emphasis will be placed on learning the trades, science and technology, technical and vocational education, etc.

4.2.2 Health

Health is a critical element of human development. Since 1995, the national health strategy has focused on the pursuit of health security, based on less expensive access to preventive and curative medical care. This strategy, advocated in the letter of intent on sustainable human development policy, is rooted in the following principles:

  • a primary healthcare policy with an emphasis on prevention;

  • a system of healthcare cofinancing between government and grassroots communities;

  • real decentralization of healthcare facilities so as to guarantee the participation of populations and the accountability of local authorities;

  • an incentive system to encourage the private sector to create healthcare facilities and pharmacies.

These principles stem from the Bamako initiative, the objectives of which were the strengthening of primary healthcare, the autonomous management of healthcare facilities by health center management committees, the availability of generic essential drugs, and cost recovery.

In principle, the strategy was intended to bring grassroots health services closer to the people and involve them more fully in managing and assuming responsibility for their own health problems. However, numerous difficulties arose during implementation, particularly as regards weak community participation in management, the low level of financial resources that households can devote to their health, and the current technical limitations of the healthcare facilities.

The Government adopted a national health policy paper in 2000 that laid out the country’s broad goals in terms of healthcare and the objective of working to improve the health status of the people. To pave the way for policy implementation, a national health sector development plan covering the period 2001–2010 was adopted in July 2001, then updated in 2003 at the time of the Round Table of health sector donors. This plan sets forth the following intermediate objectives:

  • expand national healthcare coverage;

  • improve the quality and increase the use of healthcare services;

  • intensify the fight against transmittable and nontransmittable diseases;

  • reduce HIV/AIDS transmission through an appropriate strategy;

  • develop human resources in the health field;

  • improve the people’s financial access to healthcare services;

  • increase health sector financing;

  • build the institutional capacities of the Ministry of Health.

To achieve these specific objectives, the national health policy paper identified a number of strategies:

  • in view of the generally low rate of visits to healthcare facilities, forward-looking studies need to be conducted so as to identify and analyze the determinants of healthcare demand in Burkina Faso through the development of a healthcare demand model. These studies will serve to redefine the new strategies to be implemented in order to achieve a substantial improvement in rates of visits to healthcare facilities;

  • health policy should pay special attention to vulnerable groups that may have particular health needs. Efforts should be made to step up interventions targeting the poorest areas and the most underprivileged and vulnerable populations by redirecting resources (funds, staff, and supplies) to these areas in order to fight against the diseases and ailments that disproportionately affect the poor;

  • many health services are not available at healthcare facilities because of to insufficient staffing and expertise. Indeed, not even the minimum package of activities is offered in toto at all the existing healthcare facilities, as some of the health districts are not operational. There is thus a need to make the minimum package of activities available at all healthcare facilities in order for the poor to have access to basic healthcare;

  • health services should be improved through a quantitative and qualitative increase in staffing, efforts to boost staff motivation, improved supervision, better staff-patient communication, improvements in how patients are received, shorter waiting times for patients, and better availability of drugs for patients;

  • the Government should consider an insurance system to cover the poor. There is indeed a need to design systems that spare the poor from paying for services from their own pockets, by increasing the volume of advance settlements through a system of general taxation, mandatory contributions to health insurance, or voluntary initiatives, and by subsidizing the poorest.

4.2.3 HIV/AIDS control

The Strategic Framework for HIV/AIDS Control 2001–2005, adopted by the Government in May 2001 and favoring a multisectoral approach, suggests that the fight against HIV/AIDS will mark a major turning point in Burkina Faso. The framework sets forth four main goals: (i) intensify efforts to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV; (ii) step up surveillance of the epidemic; (iii) improve the quality of overall support for infected and affected individuals; (iv) broaden the response and promote national and international partnership and multisectoral coordination.

HIV/AIDS and debt relief

As HIV/AIDS has become recognized as a threat to development in many developing countries, so have attempts to “mainstream” HIV/AIDS control into instruments of development. For poor countries, where PRSPs serve as the country’s agenda for poverty reduction, it has become crucial for country-level managers and analysts to make credible proposals for the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in the poverty reduction effort.

For countries that are eligible for debt relief through the enhanced HIPC Initiative, there is a potential for significant increases in the public financing of HIV/AIDS control programs through earmarking of funds. Only a few countries have seized this opportunity to do so, but their numbers are growing. Burkina Faso is one of them.

Debt relief can be a prime source of financing for national AIDS programs in the most heavily affected African countries: several hundred million dollars annually could be generated from debt relief for AIDS in Africa, if governments choose to allocate a significant share of their expected debt relief “savings” to AIDS. This can help narrow the gap between what is currently spent on AIDS and what is actually needed to mount effective national responses.

Source: SAFCO, No. 01, January-March 2001.

4.2.4 Safe drinking water

As part of the effort to make the water policy adopted by the Government in 1998 operational, an action plan for integrated water management was adopted in 2003. This plan sets forth new approaches, objectives (see Table 14 ), and specific actions in the area of safe drinking water supply, and includes three distinct components to take into account management methods and procedures which hinge on the size of communities and their technical and financial capacities. The three components are:

  • (i) safe drinking water supply in urban centers;

  • (ii) safe drinking water supply in semi-urban centers;

  • (iii) safe drinking water supply in rural areas.

Table 14:

Objectives for the provision of safe drinking water

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4.2.5 Rural development

In 2003, the Burkinabè Government, drawing a lesson from implementation of the sustainable growth strategy in the agriculture and livestock sectors and changes in the regional and international context, and acting on the principles of the decentralized rural development policy letter, adopted a new national strategy for rural development through 2015.

The vision espoused in this strategy is the advent of a rural world that is less poor and that enjoys sustainable food security as a result of:

  • increased output from agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forests, and wildlife as a result of improved productivity;

  • increased incomes as a result of greater integration into the market economy and the diversification of economic activities in rural areas;

  • modernization of family farms;

  • regional diversification and specialization of production;

  • sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

The overall objective in the area of rural development is to ensure sustainable growth of the rural sector and thereby contribute to poverty reduction, greater food security, and the advancement of sustainable development.

The specific objectives are to:

  • increase the output from agriculture, forests, livestock, and wildlife over the coming years;

  • contribute to growth in the income of farmers and livestock raisers so as to improve their standard of living and reduce the incidence of poverty in rural areas through the diversification of activities;

  • strengthen the link between producers and markets;

  • create favorable conditions to make a balanced and adequate diet available and accessible to populations; cover standard caloric intake requirements (2,500 calories/day) and increase the consumption of animal protein (from the current level of 9.3 kg per person per year to 21 kg per person per year);

  • strengthen and bring into widespread use the sustainable management of natural resources by rural communities;

  • improve the economic and social status of women and youth in rural areas;

  • build the capacities of rural populations and develop their accountability as development stakeholders.

Policy Letter for Decentralized Rural Development

In 2002, the Government of Burkina Faso adopted a policy letter for decentralized rural development (LPDRD) to serve as a unifying framework for the various programs and projects targeting the development of rural communities at the grassroots level, so as to permit more efficient use of resources and good national coverage with respect to poverty reduction. To achieve greater efficiency, a synergy of interventions should be established by harmonizing the approaches and methods and by setting up a mechanism for coordination and for monitoring and evaluation at the national level.

This letter, which crystallizes the overall vision of the rural world in the year 2010 within a well focused multisectoral framework, is structured around the following points:

(i) Rural populations have full responsibility for development at the local level, through decentralized communities and within the framework of an effective partnership with the Government and government agencies; they are competent to choose development priorities, to develop social and socioeconomic infrastructure, and to manage natural resources on community lands.

(ii) Rural populations enjoy efficient access to social services (healthcare, education, safe drinking water, etc.) and to basic infrastructure.

(iii) The mission of the technical agencies of the Government is refocused on the sovereign functions of formulation and monitoring of sector policies, compliance with regulations, and implementation of formative public investments.

(iv) Private operators, NGOs, and associations contribute to the implementation of local development plans by providing various services on a contractual basis.

(v) The income of rural populations has increased and their food security has improved.

Success in meeting these objectives will hinge on the following strategic goals:

  • increase and diversify the output from agriculture, livestock, forests, wildlife, and fisheries;

  • strengthen the link between producers and markets;

  • increase and diversify sources of income;

  • improve safe drinking water supply and sanitation;

  • ensure sustainable management of natural resources;

  • build the capacities of stakeholders and create a favorable institutional framework;

  • promote a gender-based approach in order to improve the economic and social status of women and youth in rural areas. Increase and diversify the output from agriculture, livestock, forests, wildlife, and fisheries

Output from agriculture: Analysis of the situation reveals that, as a whole, current farming techniques not only fail to mitigate the negative effects of natural constraints, but actually make the situation worse. In addition, farmers’ strategies rarely take into account changes on the domestic and external markets, except in the case of cotton and a few export crops (e.g. green beans). In an increasingly open subregional and international economic context, this traditional form of agriculture will be unable to meet the competition and fill a slot in the international market. Growth, diversification, and intensification of agricultural output will necessarily require qualitative transformations in the production system, the behavior of stakeholders, and the socioeconomic environment. For this reason, the following priority actions should be considered:

  • support and advice for producers, along with research and development;

  • agricultural water supply;

  • development of agricultural water systems, with a priority given to lowland development in order to intensify small-scale irrigation;

  • development of growth industries;

  • development of agroprocessing and the marketing of agricultural products;

  • development of agricultural mechanization;

  • better and more secure access to land;

  • integrated management of soil fertility;

  • better conditions as regards access to credit from banks and microfinance institutions.

Output from livestock: The Government intends to make stockraising a powerful tool for reducing food insecurity and boosting incomes, particularly in rural areas. The main interventions in this subsector involve:

  • improved resource management and development of pastoral areas;

  • improved feed and water;

  • improved animal productivity;

  • improved animal health;

  • improved competitiveness and access to animal product markets;

  • support for livestock farmer organizations.

Development and management of forest and wildlife resources: The emphasis will be placed on:

  • development and strengthening of the fuelwood industry;

  • development of non-woody forest products;

  • reduction in the amount of land burned by bush fires;

  • increase in the size of wildlife populations;

  • development of an information system to generate better data on forests and wildlife;

  • conservation of the biodiversity of different ecosystems.

Development and management of fishery resources: The current domestic production of fish is highly insufficient to cover the country’s real needs. This substantial shortfall results in increased fish imports and thus contributes to the trade imbalance. However, increased production is possible because potential resources are underexploited. Consequently, by 2015 the goal is to:

  • increase fish production and catch on a sustainable basis;

  • develop aquaculture and diversify fish production. Strengthen the links between producers and markets

Meeting this strategic goal requires that constraints be lifted both upstream and downstream (preserving, processing, marketing). To that end, the priority actions to be undertaken will focus on:

  • improved access to producing areas;

  • development of infrastructure for bringing products to market;

  • product processing to preserve products better and increase their added value (cotton, fruits and vegetables, sesame, shea kernels, milk, meat, woody products, etc.);

  • development of an effective information system on markets;

  • development of communications infrastructure;

  • improved competitiveness of products intended for export;

  • development of industrial or semi-industrial units to increase the added value of products;

  • capacity-building and improved services in the areas of product processing and quality control;

  • development of commercial products wherever possible, depending on the comparative advantages. Increase and diversify sources of income

The goal of increasing and diversifying incomes requires improved access to credit, monetization of rural activities, improvements in the competitiveness of cash crops and commercial products, and the promotion of income-generating activities and self-employment.

Improved access to microcredit: Microfinance is the instrument of choice for financing the diversification of income-generating activities in rural areas; to that end, a rural microfinance development strategy needs to be worked out, with terms and procedures appropriate to the specific needs of activities such as the development of rural handicrafts, the production, preserving, processing, and marketing of agricultural and livestock products, and the export of forest and fish products. In addition, the Government will continue its efforts to create conditions conducive to the geographic expansion of decentralized financial systems and organizational capacity-building for such systems through the development of refinancing and guarantee fund mechanisms at other financial institutions. Special attention should be given to the needs of food producers, who are the poorest and most vulnerable group.

Accelerated monetization of rural activities: The small-scale village irrigation program will be strengthened in order not only to increase food security, but also to create rural employment during the dry season. At the same time, the Government will continue to steer producers toward new, more lucrative activities such as: (i) livestock fattening; (ii) mini-dairies, usually managed by women; (iii) leather and hide handicrafts; (iv) small animal breeding; (v) fish farming and aquaculture; (vi) small logging operations; (vii) wildlife development.

Improvements in the competitiveness of commercial products: In the context of regionalization and globalization of trade, efforts will be made to encourage the diversification of export products and export potential, along with improvements in the competitiveness of growth industries (such as cotton, oil-producing plants, fruits and vegetables, leathers and hides, tourism based on hunting, etc.). These products have a formative effect on the entire rural sector (in view of the need to organize upstream and downstream services) and a multiplier effect on incomes, particularly rural incomes.

Development of income-generating activities and self-employment: In addition to the implementation of a private initiative support program to promote agroprocessing, small animal breeding, off-season crops, handicrafts, and small trade, emphasis will be placed on the development of other activities such as fisheries, the development of non-woody forest products, and the development of utilitarian local species.

The contribution of the fishery resources subsector to job and income generation will hinge on the implementation of actions in support of the production, processing/consumption, and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products. Ensure sustainable management of natural resources

As a result of population growth, intensified migratory movements, and the growing needs of society, the pressure on land, water, forest, wildlife, and fishery resources is steadily increasing, thus exacerbating the conflicts over the use of these resources.

To achieve the strategic goal of sustainable natural resources management, the priority actions are as follows:

Land resources management

  • promote production systems that guarantee the durability and sustainability of ecosystems by adopting approaches that favor careful intensification of production systems;

  • strengthen security of land tenure;

  • restore soil fertility;

  • promote widespread use of erosion controls (CES/AGF and DRS);

  • improve rangeland and water point management;

  • build the capacities of those in the sector.

Water resources management

  • create an enabling environment for clearly defining the rights, responsibilities, and roles of all stakeholders (Government, local communities, users) in implementing the principles and tools of integrated water resources management;

  • set in place a water resources information system to ensure better knowledge and better monitoring of water resources, their uses, demand, and water-related risks;

  • develop procedures for implementing laws and regulations on water use for the attention of all actors involved in water resources management;

  • promote research and development in order to improve the basic understanding of the cycle and uses of water resources, with a view to better exploitation of these resources;

  • develop human resources so as to provide those involved with the necessary capacities to fill their respective roles;

  • carry out informational, educational, awareness-raising, and advocacy actions to ensure responsible support and participation by all participants;

  • set in place an institutional framework specifically adapted to integrated water resources management;

  • implement the national strategy for sustainable development of irrigated agriculture;

  • implement actions to protect watersheds and the banks of streams and rivers.

Forest, wildlife, and fishery resources management

  • promote sustainable forest development, which will consist of: (i) real integration of forestry into rural development by rebuilding, developing, and managing forest resources on community lands so as to ensure optimal and sustainable exploitation of the productive potential of farmlands, rangelands, and forests; (ii) regionalization and decentralization of forest planning so as to optimally adapt forest development to specific socioeconomic and ecological contexts;

  • manage seed production areas and seek genetic improvements in forest species;

  • promote environmental assessments and environmental education;

  • protect classified forests in order to help maintain essential ecological processes (water resources cycle, air, cycle of organic matter, etc.) and provide goods and services to populations;

  • build accountability on the part of riverside populations for ecosystem management;

  • promote actions to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems;

  • rigorously enforce the laws and regulations in force and improve the governance of forest, wildlife, and fishery resources. Build the capacities of stakeholders and create a favorable institutional framework

Several stakeholder groups have roles to play in implementing the rural development strategy:

  • government agencies;

  • professional organizations and private operators;

  • local and grassroots communities;

  • technical and financial partners.

There is a need to build the capacities of the first two groups in particular. Build the capacities of government agencies

In the current context, marked by regionalization and globalization of the economy, capacity-building is an absolute necessity for Burkina Faso, which must make its policies succeed while meeting the demands of the market. Yet experience has shown the weak performance of government agencies, in terms of both management and strategic planning, because of inadequate professional capacities and work resources. For the rural development strategy to succeed, it now appears that this capacity deficit needs to be reduced. However, capacity-building should not be limited to training activities alone. It should be addressed from a holistic perspective, so as to integrate the institutional dimension and elements such as professional behaviors and practices, logistics, and motivation.

In addition, the New Information and Communications Technologies (NICT) constitute a powerful instrument for streamlining the management of development and should be harnessed in order to benefit optimally from the opportunities offered in this area.

The priority actions are to:

  • improve staffing by resuming or continuing civil service hiring for the ministries involved in rural development;

  • improve the institutional arrangements;

  • build the technical and operational capacities of government agencies;

  • provide government agencies with access to the New Information and Communications Technologies. Build the capacities of professional organizations

The reforms implemented in the agricultural sector seek to refocus the Government’s role on its sovereign functions, but they also aim to develop total accountability on the part of producers and their organizations in the development process. However, while this new context opens opportunities and favorable prospects, it also introduces new requirements which farmer organizations must meet if these organizations are to become effective. For this reason, capacity-building for farmer organizations is critical to the success of the rural development strategy. Capacity-building efforts should cover the following topics:

  • structuring and institutional development of professional organizations;

  • vocational training;

  • functional literacy.

Structuring and institutional development of professional organizations: The

Government has repeatedly reaffirmed its desire to promote producer organizations and maintain partnership relations with them in a way that respects the autonomy of each partner.

To that end, the Government’s strategy focuses on the professionalization of producer organizations, requiring the development of a real capacity to promote and defend the agricultural trade, and on better vertical and horizontal structuring of these organizations.

In the economic sphere, the Government will continue to support the emergence and structuring of producer organizations created under Law 014/AN/99. These bodies are based on the rule of voluntary membership, i.e. the voluntary participation of individuals in forming groups and cooperatives, and of producer organizations in forming unions, federations, and confederations. They are managed in accordance with universally recognized cooperative principles: democratic control, economic participation of members, autonomy, independence, and nondiscrimination. Their primary objective is to handle certain necessary functions pertaining to their members’ economic activity, particularly with respect to market access (marketing, access to inputs and equipment, etc.). They may set in place targeted services, which contribute to the vertical structuring, by subsector, of the greater agricultural sector.

The regional chambers of agriculture are institutions that represent and defend the interests of the agricultural profession; they have been set up in all regions through a democratic process. They represent the entire agricultural sector, in all its components and diversity, following a principle of vertical structuring in a territorial framework. The regional chambers of agriculture are consular organizations; they have no members, but nationals, who are all producers in the area. They enjoy the status of public entities of a professional nature and are solely managed by the elected representatives of farmers and livestock farmers. They are called upon to take over from the Government certain functions of general interest, such as training, information, and technology transfers.

Government support will be based on the activity plans adopted by the different producer organizations, defining their objectives and their methods of intervention. They will benefit from training programs and trips organized for the purpose of sharing experiences, and they will receive the material, human, and financial support needed to play their role effectively. To implement these actions, the Government could rely on service structures such as associations, NGOs, and training centers that possess demonstrated technical capacities in certain areas.

Vocational training: For producers and their organizations, this is a key element for improving productivity, promoting technology transfer, and adjusting to technological developments and changes linked to globalization. The sustainability of a high level of growth can only be ensured through continuous improvements in the professional qualifications of producers and their organizations. Vocational training is essential it is desired to keep large numbers of youth in their communities.

Promoting vocational training remains the primary channel for skills development. However, the current system of vocational training, based on training centers and schools, cannot meet the full range and diversity of needs in terms of professional qualifications. To address this lack of relevance and effectiveness, the Government is attempting to develop a new approach to vocational training that will make it possible to train greater numbers of youth in various fields of specialization.

Functional literacy: Illiteracy in all its forms, and particularly in connection with a lack of capacities and qualifications, is more pronounced in rural areas. The development of basic education and functional literacy is therefore a key element of the rural development strategy. The Ten-Year Plan for Basic Education Development calls for accelerated action in disadvantaged areas. Build the capacities of private operators

Private operators need vocational training to improve productivity and build their capacities in order to adjust to business competition, encourage private investment, and attract foreign capital. The development and implementation of a program to support private initiative in the areas of agroprocessing, small animal breeding, off-season crops, and services in rural areas will facilitate private involvement in implementation of the rural development strategy. Create a favorable institutional framework

In connection with its role as promoter, the Government should work to improve the tax-related, institutional, legislative, and regulatory environment so as to allow each rural stakeholder to fully play his or her role. In addition, the Government must provide public goods and services in the areas of research, outreach, controls, and regulations. The Government will also provide institutional support to farmer organizations and local communities through appropriate training programs.

The Government will support the development of private investment in the rural sector, specifically by adopting an agriculture and livestock investment code that takes into account the criterion of investment return, in order to encourage private investment and permit private parties to take over from the Government in several areas (agricultural equipment and input supply, veterinary services, product processing and marketing, etc.).

In addition, the Government has adopted new terms and conditions that give private operators access to agricultural water systems. In a similar vein, the Government will also pursue and strengthen its policy of contract-based links with private operators, while retaining its role in steering, monitoring and evaluating, and overseeing implementation of the actions. Promote a gender-based approach in order to improve the economic and social status of women and youth in rural areas

As indicated above, according to the results of the Burkinabè survey of household living conditions conducted in 2003, there is a degree of discrimination between men and women in terms of poverty, to the disadvantage of women. Women do in fact contribute more than men to the overall incidence of poverty at the national level (52 percent of women versus 48 percent of men), and among women the severity of poverty is slightly higher than for men (7.3 percent versus 6.9 percent).

Socioeconomic conditions and sociocultural impediments often explain the problems faced by women with respect to access to inputs (land, equipment, credit, etc.).

The literacy rate for women (12.9 percent) is half that of men (24 percent). This disparity, which is found in all social categories, is much more pronounced in the poorest categories. Women have limited access to healthcare, land, employment opportunities, and credit, and participate less in public life and decision-making.

Although this survey did not provide specific information on youth, experience proves that this category of the Burkinabè population also faces a serious situation due to social dependence and difficult access to production factors, resulting in a rural exodus that deprives the countryside of vital force.

In view of their economic circumstances, their precarious social status, and their essential contribution to agricultural and pastoral output, special attention will be given to improving the living conditions of women and youth in the rural development strategy, as one component of the poverty reduction strategy for rural areas of Burkina Faso. This will also require moving toward a more socioeconomic approach that takes into account the returns from women’s economic activities.

Women contribute more than men to the creation of national wealth, particularly in rural areas. Accordingly, improving their working conditions will have a definite impact on efforts to increase output.

4.2.6 Physical environment and living environment

After Rio 1992, Burkina Faso subscribed to the Millennium Development Goals and the agenda of the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002. The Burkinabè Government is well aware that the promotion of sustainable development requires concerted action.

The links between poverty and the degradation of natural resources, most acutely reflected in desertification, are so evident that they must be taken into account in any poverty reduction strategy. But this implies a framework of multisectoral action to guarantee populations, especially poor populations, basic prospects for:

  • water that is suitable for consumption and conducive to food security;

  • a sustainable supply of energy;

  • good health from the responsible use of natural resources;

  • sound agriculture in a viable rural context;

  • guaranteed biodiversity of life and the protection of essential ecosystems.

In specific terms, for the period 2004–2006, the Government will focus on the following priority actions:

  • intensification of the fight against desertification, which requires fine-tuning the implementation of local development programs based on the results of the experiments and studies carried out;

  • improvement of the living environment of urban and rural populations by developing an action plan for sanitation and landscape improvements. Special attention will be given to rural concerns, particularly with respect to the management of agricultural pollution, pollution due to mining and industrial activities, etc.

Improvement of the living environment will go hand in hand with efforts to strengthen rural electrification programs and develop solutions to make electric power more accessible to the most disadvantaged segments of the population. Rural electrification constitutes a genuine vector for improving living conditions, promoting productive activities, and upgrading the equipment of administrative services. Rural electrification also helps to reduce the disparities between the cities and the countryside. Initiatives such as the development of solar energy and multifunctional platforms will receive a great deal of attention, along with measures to guarantee the security of the installations.

Sanitation began to be taken into account in the 1980s during the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. In Burkina Faso, three quarters of all households have no latrine; this is largely due to rural households, the great majority of which have no such infrastructure.

The sanitation situation is characterized by the absence of public sanitation systems in large cities. Domestic and industrial wastewater is discharged into the environment through gutters with little or no treatment. Only the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso have strategic plans for the disposal of wastewater and excreta now under way and have instituted significant actions in the area of waste management and rainwater removal. This weakness at the urban level is tied to the constraints posed by overpopulation and its corollary of lack of space and obligation for rigorous hygiene.

In rural areas, where concerns about space and crowding are less of an issue, the social or public constraint of having a place laid out carries less weight. But this does not diminish the fact that the consequences for the population, in terms of morbidity, are a reality that deserves careful consideration.

The national sanitation strategy aims to safeguard the natural and human environment such that each citizen can enjoy clean water, air, and public spaces in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy his or her essential needs in terms of health, aesthetics, and general well-being.

The resulting policy of environmental protection aims to promote sanitation, prevent environmental degradation, and protect living species and property.

In the area of sanitation, the objectives are to:

  • involve the authorities as closely as possible in the planning process to ensure a certain continuity of approaches, capacity-building, and greater ownership of the strategies, based on real demand at the community level;

  • incorporate the concept of shared management responsibility in the institutional arrangements between government services, the private sector, NGOs, and local communities;

  • make sanitation an essential component of development programs, with an emphasis on community initiatives and opportunities.

The national sanitation strategy refocuses the roles of the different actors in line with the following breakdown of sanitation requirements: (i) rainwater; (ii) wastewater and excreta; (iii) household garbage and solid waste.

4.2.7 Efforts to combat insecurity

In the area of security, the Government has made significant efforts, reflected primarily in: (i) the creation of a ministerial department specifically responsible for security issues; (ii) the establishment of an institutional mechanism, composed of the high authority on weapon imports and uses and the national commission to fight the proliferation of light weapons, created in January and April 2001 respectively. In addition, in May 2003 the National Assembly adopted a law on internal security which then served as the foundation for developing a national plan to combat insecurity.

The ultimate goal of this plan, which covers the period 2004–2008, is to enable security forces to respond effectively to the demand for security from the citizenry so that citizens can live their lives in peace and participate in the country’s development. The plan has three major objectives:

  • increase national security coverage by lowering the number of inhabitants per security officer from 2,000 to 1,000;

  • improve the organizational capacities of the security forces;

  • organize citizens’ participation in managing their security.

The measures to be taken to increase the country’s security coverage involve, first and foremost, setting up squads of constables in the rural communes and police stations in the urban communes and at border posts. Some of the measures also involve setting up firefighter brigades. This increase in security coverage will essentially be based on two actions:

  • recruitment of officers to increase the size of the security forces. The plan is to recruit 8,400 security officers, with the following breakdown: 5,000 police officers, 3,000 constables, and 400 firefighters;

  • construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure housing the security services.

To improve the operational capacities of the security forces, the Government will carry out the following actions during the period 2004–2008: (i) acquire means of mobility and transmission; (ii) provide the security services with adequate equipment; (iii) maintain the various units in operational condition.

To encourage populations to participate in managing their security, measures will be instituted to guarantee their involvement in the prevention of insecurity and crime. These measures involve setting up frameworks for consultation on security issues.

4.2.8 Small and medium enterprises, small and medium industries, and small mining operations

The Government continues to make efforts to promote the private sector in general and small and medium enterprises and industries in particular. These small production units contribute directly to poverty reduction, specifically by providing employment and income opportunities. But they still face problems of financing, supervision, and access to government contracts. In view of the critical role played by these small production units, the Government will attempt to develop in the coming years a specific national program of support for the development of small and medium enterprises/small and medium industries. Special attention will be given to: (i) their financing, by creating an SME/SMI support fund; (ii) equipment; (iii) supervision and training of operators.

The multiform actions undertaken to promote the mining sector in general and small mining operations in particular have led the Government to establish an institutional, legislative, and regulatory framework. These actions range from the statement of mining policy (January 1997) to the development of a mining investment code (updated in 2003). Mining operations in Burkina Faso primarily extract gold, which is the country’s third leading export after cotton and livestock products. Faced with the many potentialities of the country’s soil and subsoil, as revealed by research work, the mining sector remains at the stage of small-scale operations. This is reflected in the statistics on traditional mining, which employs more than 200,000 persons in at least 200 sites around the country.

In recent years, the contribution of traditional mining to gold production in Burkina Faso has come to roughly 15 metric tons per year, valued at CFAF 50 billion. The income derived directly from this activity totals CFAF 3 billion per year. Moreover, for the decade 1991–2001, the contribution of these small-scale operations in the form of support for provincial budgets from gold washing taxes amounted to approximately CFAF 500 million. Over the same period, the Public Treasury collected roughly CFAF 450 million from mining royalties and CFAF 1,350 million from business profits taxes. However, it should also be noted that operators in this sector face a variety of difficulties of a technical, financial, and legal nature.

Traditional mining operations clearly have a damaging effect on the environment and on public health. Yet, despite the drawbacks, this activity remains a source of income and contributes to some extent to poverty reduction. In the coming years, the Government intends to place a special emphasis on this sector through measures designed to: (i) better organize traditional mining operations; (ii) secure gold washing sites; (iii) improve outreach to gold washers; (iv) provide adequate logistical and technical support to improve productivity at the different sites; (v) restore the environment.

4.2.9 Capacity-building and NICT promotion

The experience of PRSP implementation has shown the weak performance of both management and line agencies due to insufficient ownership of programs and a shortage of professional capacities and equipment. For the poverty reduction strategy to succeed, it now appears that this capacity deficit needs to be reduced. However, capacity-building is not limited to training activities alone. It should be addressed from a holistic perspective, so as to integrate the institutional dimension and elements such as training, professional behaviors and practices, logistics, and motivation.

The Center for Economic and Social Policy Analysis (CAPES), which receives support from the Foundation for Capacity-Building, has already begun a diagnostic study on the status of capacities in Burkina Faso. CAPES is thus in a position to make a major contribution by furthering government action in the area of capacity-building, particularly as regards the cycle of formulating, implementing, and monitoring macroeconomic and sectoral policies to shore up the economy and reduce poverty. Specifically, it should contribute to the following objectives:

  • identification of the fields in which the capacities of government agencies are of critical importance to the poverty reduction strategy;

  • establishment of a critical mass of national professional staff for economic management;

  • development of a national plan of action in the area of capacity-building.

In the context of regionalization and globalization, capacity-building is an absolute necessity for Burkina Faso, which must make its policies succeed in the face of persistent poverty.

The New Information and Communications Technologies (NICT) constitute a powerful instrument for streamlining the management of development. In this area, the Government has begun to develop a strategy for effective implementation of the national information and communications infrastructure development plan, the main objectives of which are as follows:

  • elimination of the country’s overall isolation;

  • stronger administrative governance;

  • sustainable human resources development;

  • creation of new resources and new jobs;

  • enhancement of the country’s influence.



The Government’s overall strategy for poverty reduction in Burkina Faso is based on eleven closely linked overriding principles:

  1. Taking a resolutely long-term approach

  2. Promoting good governance

  3. Developing human capital

  4. Sustainable management of natural resources

  5. Gender mainstreaming

  6. Promoting employment and youth

  7. Cultural adaptation and openness

  8. Promoting new information and communication technologies

  9. Reducing regional disparities

  10. Factoring in the subregional dimension

  11. Promoting a new partnership with donors.

5.1.1 Taking a resolutely long-term approach

Our actions need to be part of a long-term approach if they are to contribute to a substantial reduction in poverty, which has become a mass phenomenon in Burkinabè society, and help bring it back down to a residual level.

Poverty has various representations and takes many forms, which means that reducing it calls for long-range planning. That is to say, the Government must have a clear idea of where the country is headed and what it wants for its future. Reducing poverty also calls for better governance practices, meaning governance with effective leadership. The long-term approach provides a logical framework for defining and sequencing short-term, medium-term and long-term poverty reduction policies and programs.

5.1.2 Promoting good governance

There is a dialectical relationship between democracy, good governance, and socioeconomic development. This is why Burkina Faso has supported every initiative in this area, including the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Durban Declaration on good governance. Democracy cannot be strengthened without improvements in the living conditions of the majority of citizens. Good governance has an economic dimension and a political dimension.

Burkina Faso has made substantial progress in governance in recent years. Political governance has been strengthened by the introduction of a multiparty system, the adoption of a liberal constitution, the establishment of democratic institutions, and regular elections. Economic governance has been strengthened by efforts to improve the transparency of fiscal management and public affairs through such instruments as new laws and regulations and the creation of an Audit Office. However, we need to build on this progress with a series of further measures to strengthen the culture of democracy.

The Government should also focus its efforts on those areas where it enjoys comparative advantages, while respecting the subsidiarity principle. Government intervention should always be guided by two major concerns: remedying market failures in the efficient allocation of resources and striving for social equity. Therefore, it is important to establish a “strategist government” that is able to anticipate and properly perform its regulatory and redistributive functions in order to prevent slippages and worsening inequality.

5.1.3 Developing human capital

The quality of human capital is a key factor for promoting sustainable human development. Burkina Faso falls very short in this area, with an average of 0.5 years of education. This means it is urgent to stress the quantity and quality of human capital development, as it has been demonstrated that one additional year of schooling can lead to a gain of 3 or 4 percentage points in gross national product.

5.1.4 Sustainable management of natural resources

Population growth and poverty place great pressure on natural resources, which are often the main asset held by the poor. Consequently, excessive use is made of the available natural resources, which tends to undermine the sustainability of development actions. The poverty reduction strategy will be based on reconciling the population’s short-term needs with the sustainable management of available resources.

5.1.5 Gender mainstreaming

The Government and other social players are broadly convinced that women, just as much as men, are a vector for disseminating economic and social welfare. Consequently, no human-centered development strategy can ignore this fact.

Therefore, appropriate gender-based planning is required to ensure equitable outcomes for women and men, particularly for the poorest groups. A consensual national strategy will have to be developed in view of the many interpretations of gender mainstreaming.

Gender equality and equity

Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programs, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic, and social spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.

Source: Agreed conclusions on mainstreaming the gender perspective, ECOSOC, 1997.

5.1.6 Promoting employment and youth

The challenge of creating jobs is more topical than ever in Burkina Faso, especially since the country’s main resource is its hard-working and industrious population, which is still largely under-employed.

The country’s economy continues to grow, following major recovery efforts, but it is not yet generating many jobs. The country’s labor factor is massively underemployed in both urban and rural areas, and a large proportion of the population is living below the poverty line. Unemployment and underemployment are not only a waste of economic and human resources; they are also among the root causes of social decline, crime, and growing insecurity.

Consequently, the poverty reduction strategy should be based on a policy of labor-intensive growth. From this perspective, employment should no longer be considered a by-product of macroeconomic policy, but instead the explicit policy objective.

A policy for increasing employment necessarily goes hand in hand with an equally integrated policy to promote youth. More than 55 percent of the population in Burkina Faso is young. This young population is a precious source of innovators, entrepreneurs, consumers, citizens, and members of civil society for Burkina Faso against the backdrop of political, economic, and social globalization. It is the country’s young who will take the lead in revolutionary new information and communication technologies. Their creativity, enthusiasm, and energy are an asset for economic and social development. Yet, the young are the most vulnerable to unemployment and underemployment, to sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and these things can lead them to crime, lawlessness, drugs, and prostitution.

In view of this, the young are an asset and not a problem. Promoting youth requires a genuine political commitment to factor youth into all development policies in all sectors.

5.1.7 Reducing regional disparities

Various data sources show that, despite their natural assets, regions have still not achieved the same level of development, particularly with regard to income and the availability of basic social services, such as education, healthcare, and safe drinking water. All these factors contribute to rural flight and migration. Actions to keep the young in the countryside have already been undertaken and deserve support in order to build up local development capacities and consolidate the decentralization process currently under way. Reducing poverty nationwide calls for narrowing the development disparities between regions, and between cities and rural areas, particularly as regards access to social services. The poverty reduction strategy will therefore be aimed at striking a balance between regional development levels and slowing the spread of poverty in urban areas. With this in mind, the regional and urban dimensions of development will be factored into the allocation of resources. The national development plan, regional plans and, inter alia, the regional investment programming law currently being drafted will all guide the allocation process.

5.1.8 Cultural adaptation and openness

The limited success of various development strategies can be explained by the lack of attention to cultural values and to the lessons to be learned from the history of development. Change which favors promoting sustainable and more deeply rooted development calls for a break with acquired habits and lazy thinking. It calls for a break with the idea that exogenous development is better than more endogenous development and a break with the idea that poverty is inevitable, so that proactive behavior can emerge.

Burkina Faso is a mosaic of some sixty cultures. This diversity can be a source of cultural wealth and innovative energy, as long as it is used wisely and channeled into developing new trade and cultural contacts. Yet, conscious ownership of culture and traditions still has to be achieved, as part of a cultural adaptation process that makes it possible to socialize the members of a community with their own values. This enables people to own these values more consciously and more actively than when they are an unconscious part of their daily lives.

5.1.9 Promoting new information and communication technologies

The new information and communication technologies obviously provide effective tools for political, administrative, economic, and local governance by introducing greater openness and by shrinking distances and time. They enhance capacities for discussion and for rationalizing development management.

Promoting these new technologies turns them into supplements to boost poverty reduction strategies. E-mail cannot replace vaccines, and satellites cannot provide safe drinking water for poor village dwellers, but new information and communication technologies open up vast opportunities and facilitate planning that enables us to make better preparations today to meet the emergencies affecting the poor tomorrow.

5.1.10 Factoring in subregional integration

The subregional integration process taking place in WAEMU and ECOWAS is a boon for the country’s economic development. However, this process does entail risks and social costs associated with the impact of the ongoing reforms on the poorest population groups. Therefore, the accompanying regional solidarity measures to ensure cohesiveness and synergy between national and regional poverty reduction policies need to be strengthened.

Truly free movement of people and goods is a prerequisite for promoting trade and investment within the Community and for improving the outlook for achieving greater integration into the global economy.

5.1.11 Promoting a new partnership with donors

The success of the poverty reduction strategy relies on a new partnership between the Government and development partners and a new partnership based on regular and open policy dialogue. The Government defines development strategy and policies and the technical and financial partners provide their support in implementing them. The Government also defines the framework for evaluating the results and impact of public policies in which donors and beneficiaries are partners.

This partnership relies on effective national leadership. Once the general objectives have been agreed, the donors give the Government free rein in the choice of policy instruments and in the pace and order of reforms. The key elements for improving coordination among stakeholders are effective application of the program approach and the gradual shift from project aid to budgetary support.


5.2.1 Pillar 1: Accelerating broad-based growth Requirements for broad-based growth

Poverty reduction cannot be achieved without faster broad-based growth that is less vulnerable to repercussions from subregional economic developments and external shocks, such as a sudden drop in cotton or gold prices. Growth needs to be more broadly based if it is to be more robust than in the past. In the medium term (2004–2006), the Government is aiming for average real GDP growth of 7 percent per year, with inflation under 3 percent and per capita GDP growth of at least 4 percent per year. The Government has prepared a reform program that will speed up changes in all sectors of the economy so that new sources of growth can emerge. To achieve this, the Government intends to strengthen the foundations of macroeconomic and financial stability, enhance competitiveness in promising sectors such as farming, livestock breeding, manufacturing, infrastructure, and community amenities. It also plans to step up the privatization program. The mining, manufacturing, and energy sectors will be revitalized and restructured to open them up to the private sector, and will also receive government support to reduce factor costs and enhance their competitiveness.

The Government has adopted a strategy aimed at making the private sector the main engine of growth. It will address the critical problems that prevent the economy from taking off, such as restricted access to affordable infrastructure services, many bottlenecks in the business environment, and the weakness of the domestic private sector. The Government is aware that it should continue to cut back its stake in the productive sector so as to enable the private sector to make the investments needed to consolidate existing activities and to develop new ones. Burkina Faso intends to step up the political reforms related to the privatization program and market liberalization.

Strengthening the dialogue between the Government and the private sector so as to achieve greater involvement of economic operators in the poverty reduction strategy remains a guiding principle and a major objective. An effective and efficient division of tasks and responsibilities will lead to contracts setting out achievable objectives.

In the short term, a strong growth strategy for rural development is a good means of reducing poverty and increasing the incomes of small farmers and rural women. The commodity sector has potential for growth, particularly with cotton, livestock, root crops, and fruits and vegetables. Burkina Faso’s cotton sector is one of the most productive and competitive in the subregion. Tapping the country’s livestock breeding potential, with its more than 5 million head of cattle and some 17 million sheep and goats, will bring in substantial export earnings and save some of the foreign exchange currently spent on imported dairy products. Burkina Faso also has comparative advantages in the craft and tourism sectors. Rational exploitation of this potential could generate jobs and help reduce poverty. This means that support for the development of agriculture, livestock breeding, and the craft sector is imperative for broad-based growth at this time.

Broad-based growth will rely on (i) maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment, (ii) improving competitiveness and reducing factor costs, (iii) accelerating rural development, and (iv) support for the productive sectors. Maintaining a stable macroeconomic environment

Strengthening the foundations of macroeconomic stability is a critical prerequisite for faster growth and the overall competitiveness of the economy. Consequently, the Government intends to continue its policy for a sound macroeconomic environment, which minimizes financial imbalances and leads to stable, noninflationary growth.

The actions and reforms required to meet these objectives will focus on continuing efforts to consolidate the macroeconomic environment by maintaining prudent fiscal policy and targeting the development of economic infrastructures and basic social services, as well as a tax policy that provides greater incentives to improve the country’s competitive strengths by reducing the tax burden on operators in the formal economy. With this in mind, efforts will continue to broaden the tax base and to enhance the efficiency of the tax and customs administration. The Government will also review the laws and regulations relating to the tax identification number (IFU). The use of the IFU will become systematic as part of the fight to reduce fraud, and the system for tracking exemptions will be improved.

It has been acknowledged that, in the case of Burkina Faso, robust growth is inconceivable without massive investment in human resources and in the basic infrastructures needed to increase total factor productivity. The Government’s lack of resources and its duty to maintain domestic and external financial equilibria mean that this investment will only be possible with more substantial and more effective external assistance. In order to increase the credibility of government policies in this area, the Government will strengthen the safeguards that ensure more effective use of public funds.

More specifically, public expenditure reviews will become systematic to ensure that public funds produce the maximum impact. Coordination of the development partners’ actions will be another important factor in improving assistance.

Microfinance plays a critical role in a strategy to reduce poverty and promote the private sector. The Government intends to develop a comprehensive microfinance strategy based on the following principles: (i) promoting the establishment of microfinance institutions that comply closely with best practices and apply strict auditing procedures, (ii) creating an environment that will provide incentives to the country’s commercial banks to invest some of their liquidity in the microfinance sector, and (iii) making microcredit an effective means of empowering the poor. Improving competitiveness and reducing factor costs Competitiveness factors

For a small country like Burkina Faso, the critical variables determining the economy’s short-term price competitiveness are the real exchange rate, the terms of trade, primary factor costs, and the costs of intermediate inputs. Since the country belongs to WAEMU, which opted for a fixed exchange rate with the euro, Burkina Faso cannot adjust its nominal exchange rates to attenuate terms of trade shocks. The Burkinabè authorities are aware of this situation and will intensify their efforts to control the variables that determine long-term competitiveness, meaning the variables that are likely to lead to lasting changes in production capacity and, more specifically, total factor productivity. This applies especially to primary factors (such as the cost of labor, capital, energy, and transport), as well as to transaction costs.

Faster growth and economic diversification call for a substantial increase in labor and capital productivity in all sectors. An increase in labor productivity requires human capacity building and, more specifically, an improvement in the average level of educational attainment. That is why Burkina Faso’s growth strategy gives education pride of place. This strategic choice is also warranted by the fact that better education improves health and leads to behavior that is more conducive to environmental protection and good governance.

Vocational training is another critical factor for improving productivity, encouraging private investment, attracting foreign capital, and promoting technology transfers and improving businesses’ responsiveness to changes relating to globalization. High growth rates will only be sustainable with ongoing improvements in labor force skills. To this end, the Government has formulated a genuine employment promotion policy by defining a strategic framework for vocational training and a labor-intensive sectoral approach. The National Employment Promotion Board (ONPE) will be restructured and the financing mechanisms will be revamped to focus on creating new jobs. The labor code will be reviewed to suit current circumstances and to create more incentives.

Recent research has shown the marginal efficiency of capital has improved since the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994, but it is still low. The incremental capital-output ratio (ICOR) fell from 8 in 1994 to 5 in 1995 and 1997, indicating that capital productivity stands at about 20 percent. This ratio is typical of an uncompetitive environment that offers few incentives and is unattractive for private investment. To overcome this, the Government should step up structural reforms that increase capital productivity and encourage foreign investment. Standard & Poor’s recent positive assessments of the business climate in Burkina Faso in June 2004 point to better prospects.

Marginal efficiency of capital

The concept of marginal efficiency of capital is derived from Keynesian theory. It is defined as the expected return on a capital asset, meaning the income that the user of capital can expect to derive from sale of output during the useful life of the asset, net of current production costs. In practical terms, marginal efficiency of capital is the ratio between the present value of all expected returns and the present value of all planned expenditure. The investment decision hinges on the difference between this ratio and the rate of interest, or the cost of borrowed capital. Entrepreneurs will have an incentive to carry out their investment plans if the marginal efficiency of capital is greater than the rate of interest. This is a prerequisite for spurring economic growth and expansion. In other words, if the marginal efficiency of capital is lower than the rate of interest, there is no incentive for entrepreneurs to invest and the economy will tip into recession.

Burkina Faso receives large amounts of assistance to finance its public investment program, covering more than 70 percent of the investment each year on average. Working with the support of its partners, the Government plans to undertake inquiries with a view to introducing measures that enhance the impact of this assistance on economic growth.

The necessary reforms and actions will focus on: (i) increasing gross primary school enrollment ratios and literacy rates, which will help boost overall productivity, (ii) developing technical teaching and vocational training, (iii) improving the effectiveness of public investment by implementing the conclusions of the study on the reform of the Public Investment Program, and (iv) speeding up the development of the capital market. Reducing factor costs

Factor costs are fairly high in Burkina Faso, compared to other countries in the subregion. In particular, transport, water, and energy costs are the highest in the subregion, much higher than the average in the other countries.

The Government has decided to undertake the following reforms in order to lower these costs: (i) market liberalization, (ii) reducing unit labor costs by cutting the social welfare contributions paid by employers in the modern sector, (iii) privatizing existing structures to facilitate the entry of new operators and an injection of new resources and technology into various market segments, and (iv) building the Government’s capacity to regulate utility markets.

More specifically, the Government will apply the conclusions of the study on the macroeconomic implications of business taxes on aggregate supply. As part of the implementation of the private sector development policy letter, the Government will endeavor to facilitate completion of the competitiveness support and business development project, which covers privatization, public service reform, and business development. The Government will also set up the Burkina Faso Entrepreneurs Center to foster the emergence of local support and advisory services, and will reduce the number of administrative formalities for establishing new businesses from 8 to 4. Work will also continue on the regulation of recently liberalized sectors, namely energy and telecommunications.

The Government is sure that proper use of the potential offered by new information and communications technologies can reduce the time and money spent on trade transactions, as well as lower the cost of communications and Internet access. Therefore, it has started the process of drawing up a comprehensive integrated strategy for implementing the national infrastructure and communication development plan adopted in 2000. This process involves all of the stakeholders. Other transaction costs

Transaction costs also include non-quantifiable variables that relate to the business climate. For example, delays in the handling of applications, bribes paid to circumvent these delays, and the inefficiency of the justice system which delays the settlement of disputes, are all implicit costs that, along with the direct production and marketing costs, may discourage entrepreneurs and hamper investment and growth. As a general rule, transaction costs are deemed to be very high throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The Government’s reforms and actions will focus on: (i) the entry into force of the law on the comprehensive reform of public administration, and imparting greater motivation to the staff of the National Inspectorate General, General Finance Inspectorate, and the technical inspectorates of ministries, (ii) strengthening the courts to accelerate the enforcement of judgments and enhance their credibility, (iii) implementing the laws and regulations governing decentralization, (iv) training local elected officials, (v) strengthening civil society’s role as a counterweight to political power, and (vi) supporting civil society initiatives to combat corruption. Support for productive sectors and accelerating rural development

The Government is aiming for average growth of 7 percent per year starting in 2004. This figure is based on the outlook for increased public sector and private sector investment stemming from increased official assistance from other countries and foreign and domestic private direct investment.

Agriculture still dominates economic activity in Burkina Faso, accounting for 35 percent of GDP on average. It employs and provides income for some 80 percent of the population. It also accounts for more than 60 percent of export earnings and an average of 30 to 35 percent of spending under the public investment program. In the short term, economic growth will rely on more dynamic export crops, such as cotton, fruit and vegetables, and more dynamic manufacturing exports from the food processing, leather, and cotton spinning industries. Mining, especially gold mining, trade, tourism, and remittances from Burkinabè citizens working abroad are also major sources of foreign exchange earnings for the country. Gradually, as the reforms aimed at stimulating the telecommunications, transport, hotel, and tourism industries are implemented, Burkina Faso is also developing as a service economy. The objective is to take advantage of its geographical location under the regional integration process in order to carve out a place as a crossroads for the economies of the countries of West Africa. Agriculture and livestock breeding

Agricultural and livestock product exports will be the main sources of Burkina Faso’s economic growth in the medium term. However, poverty reduction calls for a rapid increase in jobs. Exports are important for GDP growth, but emphasis should also be placed on nontradables, such as staple grain crops, because of their strong association with the local economy. Studies conducted in Burkina Faso show that rural households devote 45 percent of increases in their incomes to nontradable agricultural products and 22 percent to local nonagricultural products. The multiplier effects of an increase in agricultural incomes have a rapid and direct impact on poverty reduction. The strategy for rural development up to 2015 makes finding sustainable solutions for food insecurity a priority for the sake of food security and balanced nutrition in rural and urban areas. The strategy calls for an increase in domestic production through action to intensify and diversify crops, livestock, fishing and forestry, action to strengthen the food security information system, action to promote nutritional and environmental education, and action to promote income-generating activities. Following consultations with all of the stakeholders, the Government revised the framework agreement on the food crisis alert and prevention system to make it more operational.

Furthermore, the strategy will call for the Government to continue withdrawing from production and marketing activities while strengthening its support and advisory role vis-à-vis private sector operators, providing extension, research and development, and market information. The strategy also calls for government action to develop rural infrastructures, such as markets, roads, transport and water supplies, as well as improving the quality of human resources through basic education and technical and trade extension services.

In addition, in order to ease the main constraint on total factor productivity, the Government will take the necessary measures to facilitate small farmers’ access to animal-drawn farm equipment and fertilizers through an agricultural credit policy that will increase rural producers’ access to credit, in keeping with their capacities and farming conditions in Burkina Faso. The shift to more mechanized and more intensive agriculture, which will rely on water management and using irrigation techniques as a vector for crop development and diversification, is a critical prerequisite for sustainable agriculture in Burkina Faso that guarantees stable incomes to farmers.

With this in mind, the Government’s strategy supports a more professional agricultural sector through: (i) better organization of participants and markets, (ii) intervention capacity building, and (iii) consolidation of the economic climate in which they do business. For this purpose, the Government is undertaking reforms aimed at:

  • Creating the right legal conditions for agricultural producers’ organizations (OPAs) to emerge, using an approach that involves producers’ representatives

  • Supporting OPAs by making the regional chambers of agriculture operational

  • Training OPA members in literacy, management, and rural trades in order to increase their productivity

  • Creating an attractive climate for private initiative in the areas of infrastructure, local development, supplies, production, and marketing, thus promoting private sector investment in agriculture

  • Consolidating the marketing system for agricultural inputs and products so as to improve the competitiveness of potentially strong growth sectors

  • Implementing a regulatory framework that promotes contract farming. Cereal grains

The grain market is of growing importance to the agricultural economy, in terms of both farmer incomes and the production surplus, which stands at an average of 400,000 metric tons in a year with normal weather. The development issues in this vital sector are: uneven capacity of domestic production to cover the country’s needs, the production trend since 1984–86 showing a growth rate of some 5 percent per year, pronounced regional disparities with some areas showing chronic production deficits, and rapid growth of cereal grain consumption in urban areas, but with an increasing preference for rice.

In view of the vital importance of this sector, the Government’s objective, as part of the national sustainable development strategy, is to bring about a substantial increase in the return on assets and the return on equity in grain production so as to make a lasting contribution to food security and poverty reduction. The overall strategy for achieving this objective consists of enhancing the performance of grain producers by creating a more favorable business environment and by improving their organization. The strategy will be based on more intense cropping systems and fighting land degradation through “village land management” and water management to safeguard production, as well as a more effective storage and processing system, logistical improvements, and better marketing of grains and grain products. Cotton

Many of the efforts made to stimulate cotton production since 1995 have produced considerable results. Action to settle outstanding loans and incentives in the form of fixed producer prices financed through drawbacks has made cotton production very attractive. This explains the rapid expansion of cotton production from 406,000 metric tons in 2002/2003 to 480,604 tons in 2003/2004, with an improvement in fiber quality (80 percent of the fiber is now classified in the top category).

Cotton plays a strategic role in the economy. It is Burkina Faso’s leading agricultural export. In the immediate future, it will continue to be the main source of growth in agriculture and the most widely grown cash crop. The number of cotton growers was estimated at 200,000 in 2002, and they derive 60 percent of their farming income from cotton. Cotton is not only the leading cash crop, it is also the country’s largest source of foreign exchange, accounting for 60 to 70 percent of export proceeds in value terms. The cotton sector as a whole also plays a major role in generating government revenue, contributing some CFAF 4 billion per year on average over the past three years. These figures give an idea of the strategic, socioeconomic, and political importance of cotton in Burkina Faso.

In addition to its strategic role in agricultural areas, cotton is also one of the foundations for promoting a modern manufacturing industry. Ten ginning plants, with a capacity in excess of 250,000 metric tons, have been established, and cotton production has given rise to SAPHYTO, FILSHA, oil mills, etc.

Cotton production holds out great promise in Burkina Faso. Its main strengths include:

  • Large areas of land suitable for cotton growing, especially in the new growing areas in the southwest, south, and east

  • Farmers’ increasing skills in cotton growing techniques

  • Well organized producers with cotton growers’ associations and unions

  • The improved performance of SOFITEX and the increase in its operating capacity with regard to collection (transport) and rapid payments to growers

  • Improvements to various services, including technical extension through the work of cotton correspondents

  • Consolidation of the cotton sector’s financial position (settlement of debt)

  • Substantial support from research units working on high-yield varieties

  • A determination to support the cotton sector at the highest level of government

  • Clear comparative advantage and strong earnings for growers

  • Positive externalities, such as increased grain production owing to the after-effects of the fertilizers used and of tilling work.

Despite the generally favorable circumstances for cotton production, a number of constraints and drawbacks are associated with cotton growing, such as:

  • Inadequate consideration given to the sustainable use of cotton growing land

  • Vulnerability of cotton plants to parasites, which requires strict adherence to the plant health treatment calendar

  • Rising input and equipment costs

  • Inadequate rural road network, especially in the new cotton growing areas in the south, east, and southwest.

The greatest challenge facing the cotton sector in the coming years will be maintaining or even amplifying its current strong production growth trend, while protecting against soil depletion and land degradation, and without losing comparative advantages at the microeconomic and macroeconomic levels.

The second challenge will be to achieve successful liberalization of the industry, with the arrival of new private sector operators in the east and center of the country.

A third challenge, which is a significant one, is to successfully build up a cotton processing industry in Burkina Faso, with the emergence of cotton mills and textile plants. Meeting this challenge will enable the country to make a genuine break with the colonial economic model that has applied to cotton production in West Africa in general, and in Burkina Faso in particular.

The main objectives are to maintain, or even amplify, the current trend of rising total production and to build up a local processing industry, while safeguarding productive capital and keeping cultivated areas within reasonable proportions.

The strategy for production will focus on increasing cropping intensity and the following actions:

  • Improving growers’ technical skills

  • Making inputs more readily available and accessible and improving their quality

  • Sharing the advantages and risks of cotton production more equitably between growers and the other players in the sector

  • Improving pest control

  • Rebuilding confidence between the various partners in the cotton sector.

The Government’s option to make it possible for growers to hold a larger stake of up to 30 percent in SOFITEX is particularly noteworthy. Furthermore, the interprofessional cotton agreement adopted by the Government and signed by SOFITEX and growers has laid the foundations for giving growers a greater say in the management of the sector, not only through their equity stake in SOFITEX, but also through their presence in the decision-making bodies, such as the sector management committee, which deals with such issues as setting seed cotton prices. Measures to rationalize transport logistics at SOFITEX and two new companies to be established in the east and the center will be introduced to enhance the competitiveness of the sector.

As regards international trade, the Government will continue its efforts under the cotton initiative launched with other cotton-producing African countries to ensure fair trade in cotton.

The actions to be engaged in the coming years will consist of reinforcing most of the actions already under way. These are:

  • Intensifying production in the traditional cotton-growing areas in the west and in the new areas in the east, southeast, and southwest.

  • Mechanizing cultivation: continuing the policy of equipping farmers so that animal-drawn cultivation becomes more widespread. The current proportion of farmers using mechanized cultivation equipment is 37 percent, versus 68 percent in Mali. This proportion should reach at 75 percent, or even 100 percent by 2015. Special measures will have to be taken to promote motorized mechanical cultivation on the larger farms.

  • Training growers in the use of new technologies and, more importantly, in how to manage their farms economically and protect them against soil depletion and land degradation. Cotton monoculture should be avoided.

  • Establishing a quality control system for inputs (seed, fertilizer, and pesticides).

  • Increasing ginning capacities in cotton growing areas.

  • Optimizing seed cotton collection rounds through improved management and better coordination of the transport logistics of the three cotton companies.

  • Creating incentives for new spinning plants.

  • Supporting research into new technologies.

  • Phasing in the interprofessional agreement that gives growers a greater say in the management of the sector. Fruits and vegetables

Burkina Faso enjoys competitive advantages for growing fruits and vegetables for export to markets in coastal countries and Europe. These advantages should be enhanced to speed up the growth of this sector. Fruit and vegetable production is dominated by five products: mangoes, citrus fruit, bananas, tomatoes, and onions. In the 2001/2002 crop year, production stood at 80,000 metric tons of mangoes, 75,000 metric tons of citrus fruit, and 10,000 metric tons of bananas. In vegetable production, six crops account for 92 percent of total production. The six are: tomatoes, onions, cabbage, eggplant, green beans, and potatoes.

In the 2001/2002 crop year, production stood at 17,715 metric tons of tomatoes, 33,500 metric tons of onions, 23,150 metric tons of cabbage, 7,000 metric tons of eggplant (local and imported varieties), 2,300 metric tons of green beans, and 1,400 metric tons of potatoes.

Fruit production, like vegetable production, is usually concentrated on specific times of the year. This means that the entire annual output is on the market for 3 or 4 months, creating temporary gluts and driving down prices. The lack of significant support and advisory services has hindered the introduction of new varieties that would solve the problem of genetic degeneration for the varieties grown in Burkina Faso. It has also prevented more even spreading of production over the year.

Following the privatization of Flex Faso, the task of adapting fruit-tree farming techniques is no longer performed. Yet, this is a critical task for the development of special production techniques, plant health treatments, post-harvest treatments, etc., and for ensuring technology transfer to producers.

The technical and logistical capacities those active in the sector are inadequate for proper collection, processing, and marketing of products. Consequently, fruit and vegetables from Burkina Faso arrive on markets in poor condition. As part of capacity building, the Government launched the construction of a fruit terminal at Bobo-Dioulasso and the renovation of the refrigerated facilities at Ouagadougou International Airport in 2003.

Furthermore, the sector players do not always have the professional skills required. As a general rule, owners prefer to set up their own structures and even manage them, rather than supporting existing structures. Since they do not always have strong skills in every aspect of the industry, these new operators often end up making the sector more vulnerable, rather than stronger.

The sector players have formed economic interest groups. However, these organizations will have to be strengthened in order to make a real difference in the development of the sector.

Despite these disadvantages, the sector enjoys some major advantages for growth, including:

  • Many storage dams that provide estimated potential for more than 500,000 hectares of irrigated land

  • Favorable growing and weather conditions

  • Strong domestic expertise in fruit and vegetable production.

The operational objectives for the fruit and vegetable sector can be summed up as follows:

  • Increasing the quantity and quality of production

  • Building the capacities of industry players

  • Improving the level of product processing to increase value added

  • Better marketing, especially improvements in freight and airport services

  • Ramping up other marketing channels, such as rail and road transport.

The operational strategy to support the fruit and vegetable sector focuses on three areas:

  • More intensive cropping and technology transfer

  • Trade promotion

  • Strengthening of companies and improving the professional skills of the players.

The strategy for technology adaptation and transfer will re-establish the competitiveness of Burkina Faso’s products by adapting production to market needs, improving quality, and increasing yields. A marketing campaign will be launched to increase demand for fruit and vegetables from Burkina Faso on domestic and international markets. Compliance with quality standards will increase the value of production. Action to firm up the financial position of companies in the sector and upgrade the players’ professional skills will ensure maximum profitability and sustainability of the new dynamics.

Implementation of the strategy described above will rely on a set of actions chosen in consideration of the objectives and ongoing actions. These primarily include:

  • Adapting production techniques at testing centers built for this purpose. Agronomists can use the centers to test production techniques, including irrigation, maintenance, and harvesting, on research findings,

  • Establishing specialized support and advisory services for the extension of techniques adapted by agronomists and acknowledged to be effective. Oilseeds

Burkina Faso produces oilseeds such as groundnuts, sesame, shea nuts, cashews and soybeans. Groundnuts, sesame, and soybeans are grown in fields, whereas shea nuts are picked from trees in the wild and cashews are grown in orchards. As a general rule, the oilseed sector suffers from a lack of organization and, more importantly, the players’ lack of professional skills. These players merely regroup the products collected and ship them, with no real concern for optimal harvesting and storage conditions to ensure better product quality.

As part of the diversification of the country’s potential exports, the Government intends to lay particular emphasis on promoting the oilseed sector with the aim of improving the trade balance, increasing producers’ incomes, and extending the money-based economy in rural areas. For this purpose, it has drawn up a plan of action for the development of the oilseed sector that should raise production in the medium term to 60,000 metric tons of sesame, 100,000 metric tons of shea nuts, 450,000 metric tons of groundnuts, 10,000 metric tons of HPS groundnuts and 10,000 metric tons of cashews. The priorities for the key actions in the sector are:

  • Increasing productivity and improving quality in oilseed production. Action to increase productivity is aimed at groundnut and sesame production. This action promotes higher yield varieties and intense cropping techniques developed through research. Action will also be taken to improve the quality of shea nuts through broad-based extension of the results of the National Shea Nut Project.

  • Improving the processing of cultivated oilseeds, especially sesame, and technical support for processing plants producing groundnut oil and confectionary containing HPS groundnuts.

  • Improving the processing of shea butter through more effective use of advances in this area. This primarily concerns work to obtain standard finished product quality, appropriate packaging, and support for appropriate equipment.

  • Reinvigorating oilseed marketing through technical support at several levels, including: (i) improving the commercial quality of products, especially shea butter and shea nuts. The European Union directive that allows up to 5 percent of vegetable fats other than cocoa in chocolate opens up promising prospects for a recovery in shea nut exports, (ii) setting up a shea butter plant, (iii) control of trade channels, and (iv) improving the organization of the players in the sector.

  • Support for capacity building for players in the sector through special training programs.

  • Establishing an effective quality control and standardization system. Livestock

Livestock breeding is very important to the economy of Burkina Faso. It accounts for slightly more than 10 percent of the country’s export earnings and is a major source of income for people living in rural areas. As part of the plan to reinvigorate the sector, the Government adopted a policy paper in 1997 that sets out the livestock development action plan. After the paper was adopted, the Government adopted the livestock action plan and inv