More than half a million children under five in Burkina Faso are acutely malnourished – UNICEF

09 September 2020

OUAGADOUGOU, 9 September 2020 – Over 535,500 children under 5 years of age in Burkina Faso are acutely malnourished, including 156,500 suffering from severe acute malnutrition who are at imminent risk of death, UNICEF announced today. The alarming findings from a recent nutrition survey are indicative of deteriorating food and nutrition security for children and other vulnerable groups across the country.

The Nutrition survey in communities and sites with internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burkina Faso, conducted by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Davycas in July and August 2020 with support from the Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, was carried out in 11 communes with a high concentration of internally displaced people. These communes are home to a total of 576,972 displaced people, or 57 per cent of the 1,013,234 registered nationally.[1]Children account for 60 per cent of all internally displaced people in Burkina Faso.

“The aggravating factors causing the nutritional situation of children to deteriorate in these areas are primarily linked to the displacement of populations due to insecurity and reduced access to livelihoods, health care and nutrition services,” said James Mugaju, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Burkina Faso. “The coronavirus pandemic has had a brutal impact on families’ ability to provide for the basic needs of their children. Children are paying the highest price, facing a triple crisis: security, health and food.”

According to the survey, 18.4 per cent of children in Gorom-Gorom in the Sahel region and 16.1 per cent of children in the Barsalogho IDP site in the Centre-Nord region are suffering from global acute malnutrition, surpassing the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency threshold of 15 per cent. Also alarming, the communes of Dori, Gorgadji, Bourzanga and Fada N’Gourmaall have a high prevalence of global acute malnutrition, ranging from 12.5 per cent to 13.6 per cent. Rates of global acute malnutrition among children in the communes of Barsalogho, Kongoussi, Ouahigouya, Kaya and Matiacoali, range from 8.6 per cent to 9.6 per cent.

Areas with particularly high prevalence of acute malnutrition among children are also those with the highest number of acutely food-insecure families. For example, the commune of Gorom-Gorom with its global acute malnutrition rate of 18.4 per cent is situated in Oudalan Province where one in five households is experiencing extreme food scarcity. All the other surveyed communes are in provinces with crisis levels of food insecurity.[2]

“We need to further intensify efforts with partners and authorities to ensure the continuity of nutrition services in hard-to-reach areas and to provide an integrated package of prevention and treatment of malnutrition to reach these children in urgent need. This is essential because good nutrition for children, from their first days and months, protects them from disease and infection, and helps them to recover when they fall ill,” said James Mugaju.

UNICEF and its partners are ramping up their response on the ground. Community health workers have been mobilized to travel to the most remote areas in order to screen and treat malnourished children at the community level. They are also providing advice on best feeding practices for infants and young children, including in emergency situations.

UNICEF is supporting health authorities and is strengthening efforts to procure and deliver therapeutic foods (milk and ready-to-use therapeutic foods) needed to treat acute malnutrition to health-care facilities. Since the start of this year, more than 52,600 cartons of therapeutic food (737 tons) have been delivered to health-care facilities and 51,685 children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition.


[1]National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR), 8 August 2020.

[2]Fiche de communication du cadre harmonisé d’analyse et d’identification des zones à risque et d’estimation des populations en insécurité alimentaire au Sahel et en Afrique de l’Ouest[Harmonized framework for analysis and identification of risk areas, and estimation of food-insecure populations in West Africa and the Sahel communication sheet], 11 July 2020.

Media contacts

Hadrien Bonnaud
UNICEF Burkina Faso
Tel: +226 66 93 31 32
Christopher Tidey
Tel: +1 917 340 3017


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