Facing a Food Crisis in Burkina Faso

“When there is food for two, there is enough for three.” So goes a local saying in Burkina Faso.

This saying reminds us that having something to eat is always a gift from God, especially in communities where food production meets only basic needs. When climate hazards happen, solidarity is the only thing that keeps people surviving and hoping for the coming rainy season to be better.

Barkundba is a pastoral village in northern Burkina Faso. Most of its population is Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group. The village economy depends mostly on raising animals.

In the past, Barkoundba has provided beef, milk and leather supplies to other parts of the country. Due to the recent severe drought, access to quality hay has been considerably reduced, causing dramatic repercussions for milk production and animal fattening.

Every two days Fatimata, mother of sponsored child Soumet, sells two liters of milk so she can feed her family for the day. No money is left for other supplies like soap, oil, condiments and clothes.

man and woman and two children sitting in front of thatched hut

In better times she has had four to six liters of milk to sell each day, and the farm has also produced corn, black-eyed-peas and millet. Today, not only the quantity but the quality of the milk and food has decreased.

The Apostolic Mission of Barkundba Child Development Center is one of the rare Compassion-assisted centers where the children actually come with bowls so they can take some food home to their siblings and parents.  Local church leaders call this “a leap of solidarity.” Families are unable to make ends meet otherwise.  woman serving a meal to children

Only a mile from the child development center, sponsored child Saibata lives with her family. She regularly attends the Compassion program on Thursdays and shows progress at many levels. As soon as Saibata arrives home from her child development center, she is busy helping her mother fix something for the family’s dinner.

This is the only meal the family will have today. Sometimes her mother saves a little food for the children’s breakfast the next morning. But she cannot always do that.

Repercussions of the Burkina Faso food shortage are visible not only in rural areas but in cities as well. The Mission Omega Child Development Center is located in the suburbs of Ouagadougou. Mahamadi’s family doesn’t live far from the development center. Their living conditions are among the worst in the area. For several weeks now, Hassane, the center’s director, has been struggling to keep Mahamadi in the Compassion program.

Mahamadi’s father is a day laborer who works as a docker at a goods station. Sometimes he goes a whole week without any contracts. When that happens, he prefers to sleep at the station instead of joining his family because he has nothing for them.

On days when Mahamadi’s father has a work contract, he can proudly come home with about $3 USD. This money is what his family will live on until he gets another contract. All six family members live in a nine-square-meter house with no bathrooms, electricity or running water.

This year, prices of crops soared to a level that worsened the family’s situation. Many times, Mahamadi’s father wanted all of his children to stop going to school and find jobs. Hassane has negotiated with him to prevent the children from being withdrawn from school. Recent weeks have been particularly difficult for Hassane, as Mahamadi’s father wants his wife and children to move from Ouagadougou until his situation gets better.

If this happens, it means no more school, and no more child development center, for Mahamadi. Many other children in the area and in the our program will have to move to places where their parents or caregivers believe the cost of living will be cheaper than in Ouagadougou.

The number of families requesting food assistance at the child development centers in Burkina Faso is increasing weekly, and it is likely that some of the most difficult months are still ahead.

21 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Joseph Mujuru September 11, 2012

    i am doing an online grant research for empowering woman and youths in Burkina Faso considering the current situation i am looking for a specific village in Burkina Faso were i can research on and come up with a valid proposal.

    1. Jacquie Parella September 11, 2012

      Please send us your request by clicking on the ‘contact us’ button on the home page of the blog. The we can help you from there. Thanks Joseph!

  2. Mary August 11, 2012

    I may have already posted this, but it hasn’t shown up on the waiting to be moderated thing yet, so I’ll ask again. I’ve heard rumors about a possible uprising in Burkina Faso. I sponsor a girl there and am kind of worried. Does anyone know anything about it? Will Compassion keep me posted if it affects her in some way? Also, is there any way to give money for the sole purpose of importing water or something? Apparently there’s a major drought.

    1. Jacquie Parella August 12, 2012

      We will definitely contact you Mary if anything happens in Burkina Faso and your child is affected. If you ever have concerns about your sponsored child though, don’t hesitate to call us. (800-336-7676) Too, you can designate funds to a specific child development center or to the water of life program. If you want to donate to a specific development center, give us a call.

  3. linda Slater July 28, 2012

    If I want to send some dreses i made to Africa or Haiti or? how do I do it. Could I send them to a person in the US?

  4. gerry July 20, 2012

    I’m sure the people on Our Compassion must be tired of me talking about this. It has been an ongoing problem for quite some time how. I’ve posted on the old and new Our Compassion boards about this several times since last year.
    This is not particular to these two child centres. The whole Sahel region is facing a severe food crisis – Oxfam estimate that over 5.4 million people (35% of the population) in Niger, some 3.5 million people in Mali, 2 million in Burkina Faso and 700,000 people (over one-quarter of the population) in Mauritania are estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity.
    This is due to a combination of drought, high grain prices, decrease in remittances, environmental degradation – the expanding Sahara (desertification) is making the area drier and more drought-prone. Moreover, due to the ongoing fragile security situation in neighbouring Mali, thousands of refugees are pouring into Burkina Faso.

    If you add the Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a high infant mortality rate and limited natural resources, you can begin to see how serious this is.

    Sponsoring any child in Burkina Faso will help and in many cases, this will truly be a life-saving sponsorship.


    1. Hannah July 28, 2012

      Thank you for your words. I really appreciate the information, I sponsor a child in Burkina Faso and I care for him very much. I just sent an extra gift desigated for food for him & his family. I pray that I will be able to sponsor more children from Burkina Faso financially soon. I pray that God will bless me financially NOT for my benefit, but so I can pour out what he gives me & return it to His kingdom & give it to those who need it. I appreciate any information on these other countries. If I didn’t get the information on here I don’t know that I would hear it any where else. Thank you Gerry & Compassion for keeping us informed.

    2. semmie July 24, 2012

      Gerry, I don’t think anyone is tired of you talking about this. Even if someone is, please, please, please don’t stop. Keep talking about it. Keep spreading the news. There is such a need in Burkina Faso. May God’s words be a fire in your mouth, and the people who read those words…the wood it consumes. God bless you, Gerry!

  5. Nicole July 20, 2012

    We have two children sponsored in Burkina Faso… do you know if there are any trips planned to visit there in the future? I would love to meet them and see first hand how I can raise awareness for Compassion and this crisis!

    1. Jacquie Parella July 24, 2012

      I don’t know of any trips planned to Burkina Faso but I will let you know if I hear otherwise!

      1. semmie July 24, 2012

        Me, too! I want to go to Burkina Faso!

  6. ronda July 20, 2012

    I just sent family gifts to my 3 BF children. Praying for this country.

  7. Kim Hall July 20, 2012

    My dear boy in Burkina Faso is also named Mohamadi! My heart goes out to the people!

  8. Angie July 20, 2012

    [quote comment=”41056″]Is there a way we can donate to specifically support this center if the child we sponsor is elsewhere?[/quote]
    Yea good idea, id like to do that too, donate to this specific center….you will never know how spoiled america is till you read some of these blogs =(

    1. Jacquie Parella July 20, 2012

      You can by calling us at (800) 336-7676. The Child Development Centers highlighted in this post are BF353 and BF780. Thank you Angie!!

  9. Dee July 20, 2012

    Is there a way we can donate to specifically support this center if the child we sponsor is elsewhere?

    1. Jacquie Parella July 20, 2012

      Yes you can. You can give a child development center gift of up to $1000 each calendar year. The CDC’s highlighted in this post are BF353 and BF780. Thank you Dee!

      Oh and the best way would be to call us at (800) 336-7676.

      1. Anh Bock July 20, 2012

        Hi Jacquie ,
        My sponsored child are from BF780. What can i do for my child and other children in the center? Thanks

        1. Jacquie Parella July 20, 2012

          Hi Anh! You can call us (800-336-7676) to designate a gift to BF780 if you’d like. You can give up to $1000 a year to a particular child development center. You can also donate a family gift to help your child and their family. You can do that by calling or by going through your online account.

          My sponsored child is in Burkina Faso as well and I sent a family gift for him and his family. He isn’t at either of these centers but the entire country has been hit hard so I wanted to make sure they had the money for food.

          Hope this helps!!


          1. Hannah July 28, 2012

            My sponspored child is in Burkina Faso as well, but not at either of these centers. But, like you I sent a gift to him & his family for food. I pray that this helps them.

            1. Jacquie Parella July 28, 2012

              It will!! 🙂

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