top of page


Burkina Faso is a French speaking sub-Saharan country in West Africa was ranked as one of the poorest in the world by the United Nations’ Human Development Index in 2005. In almost all the areas measured by this research, Burkina Faso came out at the bottom of the list.

Previously known as Upper Volta, Burkina Faso gained its independence from France on 5th August 1960. Cotton once the main export and counting for 30% of the GDP made the nation very vulnerable to the fluctuations in the market and the global price for cotton. In 2004 the world cotton price fell by 30%. The US government heavily subsidised its own cotton farmers with a $4.2billion injection of cash, a sum greater than the entire GDP of Burkina Faso, and as a result Burkina Faso lost 12% of its income that year making living conditions even harder for the Burkinabe.

Now gold mining has taken over as the main contributor to GDP with significant negative impact on communities. For more information watch the BBC report in the video below.

Politically more stable than some of its neighbours, Burkina Faso often lies below the radar of the world’s media who prefer to report the sensational rather than the simply factual, and as a result often overlook events that have a profound impact on the country and its people.

In 2009 a flood following a particularly heavy rainy season resulted in 100,000 people being made homeless as their mud brick homes were washed away in the area around the capital Ouagadougou. The only international newspaper to report this at the time was the New York Times. 


Burkina Faso does not have the widespread starvation of Ethiopia or the atrocities of Darfur, instead it has a constant grinding state of poverty that produces chronic ill health and an average life expectancy 30 years less than in the Western world

bottom of page