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Burkina Faso: 1.5 million children are facing a nutrition crisis

One-third of all children under five are malnourished, warns Save the Children

Ouagadougou, 13 April 2021 - More than 1.5 million[1] children under five in Burkina Faso, over one-third[2] of all children in this age bracket, are facing a nutrition crisis, Save the Children warned today.

Currently, nearly 13 million[3] people are facing a lack of food in Burkina Faso, nearly half of them are children.

Violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, worsening the plight of children. The eastern and central-northern regions of the country are among the worst affected, as 670,000[4] children had to flee their homes with their families.

The insecurity in rural areas means that many families cannot work their fields or keep their animals, two main sources of income and food. Out of fear of being attacked or recruited by armed groups, many adolescents and men can’t work if that involves travelling beyond their communities. This leaves many households reliant on humanitarian support, Save the Children said. 

To support the most vulnerable communities and children, Save the Children has helped more than 170,000 children over the past year, including those living in displacement camps.

Fadimata*, 14 months, became malnourished following attacks that forced her and her mother Hawa* to flee. Save the Children's support through baby-friendly spaces enabled Hawa* to improve her daughter’s health.

"When I went to the baby-friendly space in Kaya, I took part in demonstration classes, particularly on the preparation of enriched porridge and on baby care. Fadimata* is recovering. Before that, I had no real knowledge of children's nutrition and I had never benefited from the distribution of supplements. I can see the positive effects on my child, as well as on the other kids", said Hawa*.

According to the UN[5], more than $600 million is needed to meet the growing humanitarian needs in Burkina Faso. In the first three months of 2021 only 3.7% of this budget has been covered. For specific nutrition needs, only $2.8 million out of $46.4 million has been secured, leaving a huge funding gap, Save the Children warned. COVID-19 has worsened an already tense situation, meaning that especially vulnerable children are paying the highest price.

Eric Hazard, Interim Country Director for Save the Children in Burkina Faso, said:

"We must focus on malnourished children, as their wellbeing, their futures or sometimes even their lives are at risk. Growing insecurity and the impact of climate change compounds the problem by disrupting food production and household economies. The situation is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to move to other communities to live with host families that are already living in difficult conditions themselves. Meaning there’s not enough food, particularly nutritious food for children.

“The consequences of malnutrition could have a major impact on the whole country. Children are the next generation. The time to act is now.”

With 3.5 million people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance this year, Save the Children is calling on the government and the international community to continue to put all the efforts to urgently respond to the situation in Burkina Faso to save a generation of children at risk and ask: 

  • Prioritise the specific nutritional needs of children in humanitarian responses, so that no child under five dies of preventable causes. This includes funding the national humanitarian response plan specifically towards nutrition.
  • Ensure the continuation of nutrition services in hard-to-reach areas, including preventative measures, in order to reach children in urgent need.
  • To design innovative approaches during the COVID-19 pandemic that encourage good nutritional practices at home, specifically with mothers.


*Names changed to protect identities

[1] According to th3e IPC malnutrition data for 2021, 631,787 children will be acutely malnourished. According to WFP,  24.9 % of the children under five are chronically malnourished. On an estimated population under 5 years old of 3.7M, that is 914,781.

[2] https://hungermap.wfp.org/

[3] https://hungermap.wfp.org/

[4] https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/bfa/594 Children are 60% of 1,121,960 displaced on Feb 28, 2021.

[5] Burkina Faso's updated humanitarian response plan for 2021