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Burkina Faso
South Africa
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Country information: Burkina Faso



274 200 square kilometres


15,26 million (July 2008)

Capital city

Ouagadougou (1,2 million inhabitants 2006)

Official language

French (other 70 African languages spoken 90 % of the population)

GDP product per capita (PPP)

US$ 1200 (2007)

Population growth

3,1 per cent (2008)

Life expectancy

52,6 years (men: 50,7 years, women: 54,5 years) (2008)

Infant mortality

86 per 1 000 live births (2008)

Rate of illiteracy

74,5 % (2004)




Tourism only plays a minor role in Burkina Faso. Visitors come mainly from Western Europe and are often in contact with churches or organisations that are active in the country, These visitors have usually come to experience the "typically African" culture and music of Burkina Faso. According to UNWTO in 2004, approximately 222,000 guests visited the country. The revenues of tourism are known for the year 2000. This year the tourism brought 21 million Euro into the country.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

In Burkina Faso there has been a rising demand in recent years for prostitution, and increasing numbers of children are being sexually exploited. This development is not, however, connected with tourism, which has remained constant in recent years. In Burkina Faso there are laws against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and society only accepts sexual intercourse within marriage. Burkina Faso also ratified on 31 August 1990 the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


Kidnappers operate along the traditional trade routes, but children are abducted less for prostitution, and tend rather to be taken to neighbouring countries where they are put to work on the land as cheap labourers.


HIV / Aids

The spread of prostitution also gives rise to fears of an increased spread of HIV and AIDS. According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, there were some 130.000 people in Burkina Faso who were infected with HIV at 2007, including 61.000 women and 10.000 children. In the same year, 9.200 Burkinabe died as a result of infection with HIV. The number of infected-person is decreasing, but still 0,9 percent of the population is infected by HIV.


Local Contacts



Terre des Hommes - Bureau de Coordination d’ Afrique de l’ Ouest

Paul Bandré

04 BP 8211

Ouagadougou 04, Burkina Faso

Phone/Fax: +226/50 38 89 83



Association de Protection et de Sauvegarde de l'enfance en Danger

(Association for the Safeguarding and Protection of Children in Danger)

09 BP 311

Ouagadougou 09, Burkina Faso

Phone: +226 36 25 23

Fax: +226 31 32 28



State and society

Burkina Faso has been democratic since independence in 1960, although the 1980s saw a phase of political instability. The country is a presidential republic with a democratic constitution and a multi-party system. Blaise Compaoré has been Head of State and Chairman of the Council of Ministers since 1987. Ernest Paramanga Yonli has been Head of Government since 2000.

The country has high rates of infant mortality, illiteracy and malnutrition; in some areas of Burkina Faso, every second child is severely malnourished. A quarter of the population has to make do with less than US$60 a year, a fifth with less than US$56. Only 33 percent of all children attend school.


There are some 160 tribal groups living in Burkina Faso. The most important are the Mossi, which make up about half of the population. Some 50 per cent of the population are Moslems, 10 per cent are Christian. In addition there are also African natural religions, elements of which are often mixed with Islam.


National legislation provides for equality of the sexes. In everyday village life, in which the village seniors play an important role, these laws have little impact. The unequal treatment of women is rooted in the regional tradition. Women have no access to land ownership, they are not allowed to have their own money or run a business. It is the task of women to work in the fields, to sell the harvest at market, to look after the children and to prepare the meals. Some suffer from the effects of female circumcision.


Children play an important role in society. They are highly prized and grow up under the protection of the extended family. The families wish the same for their children as any parents in Europe would wish for their children: good education and a happy future. Since many families live on the poverty line, however, children often have to contribute to the household, so that they may be unable to go to school. In such situations girls in particular are often forced to marry early, and against their will. Many girls are sent to the towns and cities to work for families as a housemaid. Their life is often marked by isolation, exploitation, and mistreatment, and not infrequently sexual abuse. When parents send their daughter away, this is rarely done with a lack of scruples, but out of ignorance and necessity.



Burkina Faso is an agricultural country with few natural resources, where the raising of livestock is more important than farming, and is one of the poorest countries on earth. With a 2.5% annual rate of population growth, the danger becomes ever larger that the country will be unable to meet the food needs of its own people. The main export is cotton.