How buildOn Communities Endure Political Instability: Burkina Faso
This is the final blog post in our series on how buildOn communities are handling political unrest. In previous posts, we’ve discussed the issues facing Haiti and Mali and how the communities we work with are grappling with them. In this blog post, we’ll explore a third country, Burkina Faso. Read on!
Burkina Faso has also been affected by political instability and violence over the past 10 years. In 2014, a jihadist insurgency began in the north, and has since spread to other parts of the country.
In January 2022, the military staged a coup against President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. The military junta promised to restore democracy within two years, but has been criticized for its human rights record and its slow progress in addressing the ongoing insurgency in the country.
All of this is happening in a nation that was already suffering from desertification, food shortages, and malnutrition. These crises have combined to create a truly desperate situation––Burkina Faso is the 8th least economically developed country in the world, and nearly half of its people older than 15 cannot read or write.
To add pressure for buildOn specifically, the unrest has led to more distrust of NGOs. The government of Burkina Faso has strengthened controls on organizations like buildOn to combat money laundering and prevent funds from getting to terrorist groups. This has led to increased scrutiny of everything from materials coming into the country to tax collection, slowing down our ability to build schools.
Additionally, some of the communities we had initially planned to build schools in are now unsafe. Though it is hard to postpone new school builds in places that need them desperately, the safety of our staff must take priority. Areas that are safe are seeing a surge in students, as those students are leaving unsafe areas to move to these communities.
buildOn is taking steps to make sure that we are complying with all new government regulations, as well as implementing strict safety measures and trainings to keep our staff out of harm’s way. As a result of these efforts, buildOn was recently honored in Burkina Faso with an award for the best project in the education sector.
Even in a country experiencing this level of turmoil, buildOn has been able to partner with many communities to enact change. To date, we’ve built 176 schools in Burkina Faso, with 49% of the students being female.
Through our Enroll Program, we continue to work with families to make sure students who have fallen out of school can get back into the classroom. In 2022, we launched our Adult Literacy Program in Burkina Faso and currently have 613 adults enrolled.
Through our three flagship global programs, we are helping to turn back the tide of poverty and illiteracy in Burkina Faso, and with it, bring the country back to a more stable political environment.
The political unrest in Haiti, Mali, and Burkina Faso has been absolutely devastating. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, and thousands have been killed. The economies of these countries have been severely damaged. And the poorest communities are suffering the most.
The 2020s have been a turbulent decade so far, and the economic and geopolitical pressures that have caused instability in places like the United States and Europe have been felt even harder in countries where poverty is rampant and government resources are scarce.
Much of the unrest in these countries has its roots in their lack of economic development. No country has ever achieved rapid and continuous economic growth without having at least 40% of its adults being literate. Literacy and the prosperity that would help countries like Haiti, Mali, and Burkina Faso move past their political problems are closely linked.
While the work we do in these countries has become more challenging, the work itself has become increasingly important. Building quality schools, teaching adults to read and write, and bringing students back into the classroom are key ingredients to lasting stability. Even though materials may be more expensive and our day to day work may be disrupted by potential violence, we can’t afford to slow down. A more educated world is a more peaceful one, and that’s worth working hard for.
To help promote school building and access to education in places that need it most, please consider making a gift to support both buildOn’s U.S. and global programs.