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Burkina Faso - People

Burkina Faso has a high birth rate and a high population growth rate (3.1 percent); at this rate the population will double every 23 years. Between 1990 and 2010, Burkina Faso’s population increased by 57 percent, with the largest increases in population occurring in Centre-Nord (1.4 million), Nord (0.8 million), and Boucle Du Mouhoun (0.7 million). Given that Burkina Faso is a landlocked, densely populated country, this rapid population expansion will place increasing stress on limited natural resources.

Burkina Faso is an exception to ethnic fragmentation, because the Mossi are about half of its people, although they occupy a much smaller share of its area. There were three historical Mossi kingdoms, each with a distinctive, sometimes hostile national traditions. The country is 40% Muslim, and has some distinguished Muslim scholars.

Burkina Faso is an ethnically integrated, secular state. Burkina Faso's 17 million people belong to two major West African cultural groups--the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). Major cities such as Ouagadougou, the capital, Bobo-Dioulasso, Koudougou, Banfora and Ouahigouya bring together people from different religions: Animists (65%), Muslims (25%), Christians (10%). By another estimate, the majority (60.5%) of Burkinabe are Muslim, but most also adhere to traditional African religions. Christians, both Roman Catholics and Protestants, comprise about 24% of the population, with their largest concentration in urban areas.

The tendency of Burkinabč counterparts to blur (from a Western perspective) the distinction between professional and personal time and space adds a layer of complexity to the challenge of establishing oneself as a professional. Cultivating work relationships is not something that happens only during work hours: Behavior and activities outside the work setting will have a significant impact on your professional relationships.

The Burkinabč, like other Africans, put a great deal of emphasis upon dressing well in public, whether at work or in the market. It is almost unheard of for a Burkinabč man or woman to wear shorts in public unless he or she is taking part in some kind of sporting event. Nor would a professional man or woman ever be seen wearing dirty, disheveled, wrinkled, or torn clothing.

Few Burkinabe have had formal education. Schooling is in theory free and compulsory until the age of 16, but only about 80.3% of Burkina's primary school-age children are enrolled in primary school. Of those enrolled, only about 41.7% complete primary school. The University of Ouagadougou, founded in 1974, was the country's first institution of higher education. The Polytechnical University in Bobo-Dioulasso was opened in 1995. The University of Koudougou was founded in 2005 to substitute for the former teachers' training school, Ecole Normale Superieure de Koudougou.

Burkina Faso is one of the world’s least urbanised nations, but its towns and cities have grown additional quickly in the last decade. Urban-dwellers were 22.7% of the people in 2014 and could reach 35% in 2026. Weak urban governance has produced slums, and the country faces economic, ecological and infrastructural challenges. The dual land management system may seriously threaten national development policy. Large towns and cities are poorly equipped for sustainable development, and the economies of second-category urban areas are dominated by raw materials production, which is an obstacle to real efforts to turn them into centres of sustainable development.

Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso and the administrative, communications, cultural and economic center of the nation. It is also the country's largest city, with a population of 1,475,223 (as of 2006). The city's name is often shortened to Ouaga. The inhabitants are called ouagalais. The spelling of the name Ouagadougou is derived from the French orthography common in former French African colonies. If English orthography were used (as in Ghana or Nigeria), the spelling would be Wagadugu.

Ouagadougou's primary industries are food processing and textiles. It is served by an international airport, rail links to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast and to Kaya in the north of Burkina, and a highway to Niamey, Niger. Ouagadougou was the site of Ouagadougou grand market, one of the largest markets in West Africa, which burned in 2003 and remains closed. Other attractions include the National Museum of Burkina Faso, the Moro-Naba Palace (site of the Moro-Naba Ceremony), the National Museum of Music, and several craft markets.

Millet and sorghum are the principal dietary staples of most of the population, varied with corn and rice in urban areas, yams and cassava in the south, and fonlo, or wild grass seed, in the southwest. Burkinabč meals are simple. A typical dish consists of a staple food such as rice, millet, yams, sorghum, or maize served with a sauce made from okra, various greens (e.g., spinach), tomatoes, and/or peanuts. Sauces may contain fish or meat. French bread is available in larger towns and villages and whole wheat bread is available in Ouagadougou.

Almost all ethnic groups regard eggs as either unappetizing or forbidden. Fish, similarly, is rarely consumed in significant quantities, although expanded resettlement along the Black and White Voltas offered greater availability of this food source.

The normal diet in village is typically lacking in certain nutrients, thus western vistors are encouraged to take multivitamins to address deficits in their diet. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies occur throughout the country, most acutely In the Sahel during the soudure (hot, dry, three month period preceding the rains/harvest). As a result, scurvy, golter, pellagra, and anemia are common. Iron deficiencies are especially common among pregnant women and young children.

The population of is exposed to and suffers from a variety of life-threatening diseases which are widespread and difficult to eradicate. Poor sanitation, inadequate water supplies, and malnutrition contribute to a high incidence of enteric diseases, tuberculosis, meningoccal infections, trachoma, measles, whooping cough, venereal disease, tetanus, intestinal parasites, leprosy, dracunculosis and malaria. An outbreak of meningitis in the first six months of 1981 reached epidemic proportions (3,801 reported cases) and claimed the lives of 441 people.

Onchocerclasis (river blindness) is a serious problem. Over 90% of the country's land area falls within the range of the parasite's host, the black fly, and some 400,000 people are infected. Between 40-50,000, or 1% of the population, are blinded by this vector-borne disease – a quarter of adults were blind. A massive international effort to eradicate the carrier black fly from its natural habitat in the fertile river valleys of Upper Volta and neighboring Niger, Benin, Togo, and Senegal was initiated in 1974.

Thankfully, in 1987, the drug ivermectin was shown to be safe and effective for mass treatment of onchocerciasis and donated free of charge for as long as needed by Merck & Co. That was a very exciting time. Onchocerciasis control has been very successful, first in West Africa (where there were 7 million people infected), then in the Americas (140,000 infected) and by 2016 there was an enormous decline in infection and massive progress towards onchocerciasis elimination in the remaining African countries (32 million infected before the start of control).

When the international health initiative succeeded in wiping out river blindness in Burkina Faso, it allowed the settlement of the sparsely populated Volta Valley by the Mossi people -- a development plan by which the Burkinabe government sought to relieve population pressure, establish communities, and increase cotton production. The freeing of much valuable agricultural land from the shadow of river blindness opened the way for settlement schemes.

With a continued high average fertility rate of 6.2 children per woman of reproductive age, total national population is projected to grow to 21.5 million in 2020. While the average annual national population growth rate is 3.1%, urban areas are growing by over 10% per year. Nearly 65% of population is less than 25 years old. The average population density is 51.4 people per square kilometer (128/sq. mi), but in the center of the country it is about 80 people per square kilometer. Millions of Burkinabe reside in other countries, especially Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.

While gender equality is protected under Burkina Faso’s constitution and law, in practice, female genital mutilation, forced and early marriage and domestic violence are widespread, says Amnesty International. Decisions about pregnancy and marriage are often taken by male family members. As a result only 17% of women in Burkina Faso use contraception and more than 2,000 die in childbirth every year, according to Amnesty International.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2017 18:16:03 ZULU