Social and Economic Policy

Issue overview


Issue overview

© UNICEF Burkina Faso/2008/Van De Velden M.
Ismael Ouedraogo, 13, a student at the primary school of Weotenga (Burkina Faso), taking his young brother in arms

Social and Economic Policy

In Burkina Faso, UNICEF is working with the government to support the analysis and development of national policies that benefit poor children and women. To do this, it is necessary to understand what the main causes of poverty are and how policies are likely to impact on these factors.

Burkina Faso has one of the highest levels of poverty in the world. Almost half the country’s population lives below the poverty line. The country appears at 134th place out of 137 countries ranked in the Child Development Index. Although many social and economic indicators have improved in recent years, they remain below the average for low-income countries as a group.
Economic growth has been sustained over the last few years before the economic crisis but it is not clear that this growth is having a significant effect in reducing the proportion of the population who live in poverty. The level and prevalence of poverty is far higher in rural areas than urban ones; but urban poverty has increased dramatically in recent years. More than one in every 13 poor people now lives in urban areas.
UNICEF’s work in Burkina Faso on social and economic policies covers the following areas:

Policy and budget analysis

The most powerful tool to reduce child poverty will be an effective poverty reduction strategy, backed by efficient and adequate resources. UNICEF seeks to understand how government policy can be better designed and funded to have a greater positive impact on reducing child poverty.
In Burkina Faso, we are working with the government and partners on the revision of the national poverty reduction strategy to ensure that it has a more significant impact on the poorest groups in the country. This process will draw on evidence-based analysis of policies that promote pro-poor use of growth and spending. To do this, UNICEF is supporting public expenditure analysis to understand how to better align government spending toward child well-being.
UNICEF is also central in improving donor aid effectiveness, such as through the support of sectoral approaches and common budgeting.

Understanding child poverty

Understanding child poverty, both its characteristics and causes, is crucial in tackling it. Poverty can disadvantage a child for life, causing irreversible damage to their learning, health, earnings and happiness as adults, thereby perpetrating the cycle of poverty through the generations. It is important to emphasize the multidimensional aspects of poverty and particularly to understand the linkages between income poverty and non-income poverty. While the figures show little change in income poverty in Burkina Faso in recent years, a number of non-income indicators, such as access to schooling, have gained ground.
It is important for UNICEF to provide a coherent, perceptive and detailed analysis of child poverty. This is necessary in order to inform project design, policy advocacy, and to alert policy-makers to impending risks. For example, UNICEF Burkina Faso is examining the impact of the economic crisis on child poverty to inform policy debate.

Child sensitive social protection

Interest in social protection to households has been increasing in recent years as governments have begun to recognize the potential of such transfers, increasingly provided in cash, to promote and transform the living standards of poor households. As well as reducing current hardship, social protection should also seek to reduce children’s vulnerability to risk and address some of the main causes of their poverty.
The system of social transfers in Burkina Faso does not yet meet this objective and is need of review and reinvigoration. UNICEF, as focal point for the Social Protection Floor Initiative in Burkina Faso, is supporting the government to study the current state of social protection in the country and provide recommendations to develop a policy and program framework.




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