Burkina Faso, previously known as Upper Volta, was part of French West Africa from 1896 until 1960. In 1984, the country changed its name to Burkina Faso which means 'the country of upright people'.
Burkinabè are known for having a jovial attitude and a great sense of humour. People are quick to stop what they’re doing to help one another. In a society where many people cannot read or write, oral tradition is central to the culture. Stories are passed from generation to generation. There is also a strong literary history which is promoted in schools and includes works by well-known writers like Augustin Sondé Coulibaly, Jean Baptiste Somé and Monique Ilboudo.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. The most vulnerable local communities struggle to access basic infrastructure and resources such as health and education. Around 20 per cent of children under 5 suffer from growth stunting and malaria is a leading cause of death.
The overwhelming majority of local people make their living from subsistence agriculture, which is vulnerable to drought, floods, land degradation and, in recent times, locust plagues.
Burkina Faso has a very young population: 43 per cent is under 14 and two-thirds younger than 30 years old. Many young people are frustrated by the lack of opportunity for education and reliable work. As millions of Burkinabes struggle to meet their daily needs, the ever-present threats of food and water scarcity across the nation make life more tenuous. Poor health is also a significant barrier to Burkina Faso’s development.
Compassion's national office in Burkina Faso is committed to helping local churches make sustainable changes in their own communities to see vulnerable children rise from poverty.