Burkina Faso is experiencing one of the most massive and rapid population displacement crises in recent years. These displacements are the result of the conflict between non-state armed groups (GANE) and government forces. There are now more than 1.7 million displaced people in a country of 20 million people.
The town of Djibo, capital of the Soum Province – Sahel Region, has seen its population increase from 30,000 in 2019 to more than 200,000 today following successive waves of displacement in the region. In December 2021 and January 2022 alone, the town saw more than 50,000 new people arrive.
SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL opened a field base there in December 2018 to respond to the urgent needs of the displaced population and host families.
The town’s water network – which had just been improved by our NGO in order to absorb the demographic pressure on water resources – was attacked and put out of service, as were most of the town’s protected water points.
In a city facing extreme water stress in normal times due to the drying up of the water table and the poor coverage of hydropic infrastructures, every drop of water is precious. People are currently reduced to drawing water from ponds, exposing themselves to the risk of contracting multiple diseases. Moreover, without water, livestock – the main means of existence in the area – become a burden and are at best sold on the market or die slowly.
SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL immediately adapted its response and developed a water filter distribution programme to limit the deterioration of the sanitary situation. Our teams also began negotiations with the traditional authorities to resume their work on the destroyed infrastructure.
Like thirst, hunger has also become a weapon of war for the parties to the conflict, whose clashes are taking the civilian population hostage. Nothing has been coming in or out of Djibo for two months.
The Djibo market, once the province’s largest weekly market, is only partially open and the prices of the foodstuffs still available have reached unprecedented levels for this time of year. A convoy of traders’ trucks was able to reach Djibo on 25 March under escort; two soldiers were killed on the road. A 19-tonne World Food Programme (WFP) food truck never reached its final destination.
In this area too, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has adapted its strategy and scaled up its cash and food voucher programmes to serve as many people as possible. However, without rapid changes in access to the city and market resupply, the combined effect of the blockade and the lean season, which was already very early this year, will have devastating effects on a population already extremely vulnerable to the security crisis.