• Burkina Faso is a low-income, landlocked Sub-Saharan country with limited natural resources. Its population, which is growing at an average annual rate of 3.1%, was estimated at almost 18.6 million inhabitants in 2016. The economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, with close to 80% of the active population employed in the sector. Cotton is the country’s most important cash crop, while gold exports have gained importance in recent years.

    Political Context

    Like other countries in the subregion, Burkina Faso is experiencing increasingly challenging security conditions. Although protected for a long time, the country has entered a cycle of more frequent terrorist attacks. In December 2018, a state of emergency was declared in several provinces, and in January 2019, the ministers of defense and security were replaced following a cabinet reshuffle. The President of the Republic, Roch Kaboré, assumed the role of rotating president of the G5 Sahel in February 2019.

    In July 2017, the Sahel Alliance was established by the European Union, France, Germany, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Development Bank, and the World Bank to support these countries’ efforts and help with regional stabilization. Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom also joined the Alliance.

    In an effort to pool resources and combat terrorism, from February 18 to March 1, 2019, Burkina Faso hosted Flintlock 2019, a multinational military exercise involving over 2,000 service members from more than 30 African and western partner nations.

    Economic Overview

    Economic growth held steady at 6% in 2018, despite a challenging national security context and an increase in international oil prices. Economic activity was driven by the services sector, particularly telecommunications, financial services, and the organization of international events such as the International Arts and Handicrafts Trade Show (SIAO) and the Tour du Faso. Economic growth was also supported by continuing dynamism in the mining sector and the rebound in agricultural production. The inflation rate was estimated at 2% in 2018, against 0.4 percent in 2017. This increase was due primarily to the rise in the prices of alcoholic beverages, housing, and hydrocarbons.

    The public deficit fell more than 3 percentage points of GDP between 2017 and 2018 and was projected to reach 4.7% of GDP in 2018, against 7.8% in 2017. Prolonged strikes in the public sector, including in the Ministry of Economy, had a negative impact on tax collection. However, an increase in external grants (4.1% of GDP) helped mitigate the adverse effect of social movements on public revenue. 

    The current account deficit fell to 8.1% of GDP in 2018, compared to 9.7% in 2017, owing to a slight reduction of the trade balance deficit as a percentage of GDP, triggered by the effect of fiscal adjustments targeting imports. Moreover, a rise in official current transfers helped lower the current account deficit.

    The economic outlook remains favorable in the medium term, with GDP growth projected to stabilize around 6% over the period 2019-21. The economy is expected to be supported by the services, mining, and agricultural sectors. Inflation is projected to remain below 3% in line with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) convergence criteria.

    The current account deficit is projected to hold steady around 7.5% of GDP during the period 2019-21 as the increase in exports is expected to help reduce the trade deficit. The budget deficit (including grants) is expected to converge to 3% of GDP and hold steady at this rate in the medium term, in accordance with the public deficit limit established by WAEMU.

    This outlook is, however, subject to major internal and external risks. On the external front, the country is vulnerable to the volatility of gold and cotton prices and the rise of international oil prices. On the domestic front, the terrorist threat and social movements, including public sector strikes, can have a negative impact on investments and economic growth.

    Human Development

    Despite a noticeable improvement in recent years, maternal and child health indicators have not yet attained the targets set in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES). Moreover, the country is ranked 144 out of 157 countries on the new Human Capital Index established by the World Bank.

    The maternal mortality rate fell from 484 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 341 per 100,000 live births in 2016, while use of modern contraception reached 24% in 2017, up from 15% in 2010, with a fertility rate of 5.4 children per woman (roughly 0.5 fewer pregnancies relative to 2010). In addition, the percentage of assisted childbirths increased from 66% in 2010 to 80% in 2015.

    The under-five mortality rate also dropped from 66 deaths per 1,000 live births to 51 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2010 and 2017, while the neonatal mortality rate declined from 31 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010 to 25 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017. This results in an overall infant and child mortality rate of 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, down from 116 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2010.

    Despite a downward trend, malnutrition remains endemic, with a prevalence of acute malnutrition of 7.6% in 2016 compared to 15% in 2010, and an incidence of stunted growth of 27% (compared to 35% in 2010).

    In 2016, life expectancy at birth was 60 years.

    In recent years, Burkina Faso has made considerable progress in the area of education. The gross enrollment ratio (GRE) at the pre-primary level rose from 3% in 2011 to 4% in 2017.

    When disaggregated by gender, these statistics reveal that girls and boys have access to primary education and complete this level in roughly comparable proportions, with a gross primary admission rate of 100.6% for girls and 104.5% for boys, and a gross primary completion rate of 64.3% for girls and 56.6% for boys.

    In 2014, the literacy rate among adults was estimated at 34.5%.

    In 2017, only 554 students out of 100,000 inhabitants were recorded as being enrolled in higher education, with just 35,410 girls of a total of 105,404 students (34%).

    Lastly, the rise in insecurity and terrorism in a number of regions in the country had a negative impact on the education sector. On January 15, 2019, approximately 1,035 primary, post-primary, and secondary schools were closed in those regions, depriving around 141,000 pupils of an education. To address this displacement of pupils, the government prepared an education strategy for pupils in areas experiencing severe security challenges.

    Development Challenges

    Burkina Faso remains vulnerable to climatic shocks related to changes in rainfall patterns and to fluctuations in the prices of its export commodities on world markets.

    Its economic and social development will, to some extent, be contingent on political stability in the country and the subregion, its openness to international trade, and export diversification; hence the need to create fiscal space to expedite investments in infrastructure and human capital with the aim of boosting the productivity and competitiveness of the economy.

    Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019

  • The National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES 2016-2020) amounts to approximately $26.3 billion. 

    To support the PNDES, in July 2018, the World Bank adopted the Country Partnership Framework (CPF) with Burkina Faso for the 2018-23 period. Aligned with the PNDES objectives, this framework will guide World Bank support over the next five years.

    The World Bank's current portfolio in Burkina Faso includes roughly 30 projects, seven of which are regional and represent a total commitment of $2.3 billion, as of January 31, 2019.

    International Finance Corporation (IFC)

    The strategy of IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, focuses on two pillars:

    • support for the government’s efforts to improve the business climate and mobilize private investments, including in the health sector;
    • direct financing to support SME development, primarily in the agricultural, infrastructure, services, energy, and financial services sectors. 

    Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019

  • Water and Sanitation Sector

    Burkina Faso has achieved remarkable results in the water and sanitation sector, which the World Bank has been supporting for more than 15 years. 

    The Urban Water Sector Project (PSEU: 2009–2018).  In December 2016, approximately 610,000 persons had access to running water through household connections and standpipes. Approximately 440,000 persons had access to better sanitation services and some 120,000 school children benefited from better sanitation facilities at school, with a positive impact on their health and scholastic performance.

    As a whole, the efforts undertaken in this sector are of direct benefit to more than 1.7 million people. In June 2018, the World Bank approved an unprecedented $300 million in financing aimed at improving the access, sustainability, and efficiency of water and sanitation services in urban and rural areas, ultimately benefiting 2.4 million people.

    The Support Project for Agro-Sylvo-Pastoral Sectors (PAFASP)

    This project has helped increase the income of its beneficiaries and promote agricultural exports. It has been of direct benefit to approximately 385,000 persons, 30% of whom are women. The income of approximately 66% of the beneficiaries increased by at least 50%. Agricultural exports totaled 275,000 metric tons (surpassing the initial goal of 106,500 metric tons) on the international markets and 206,000 metric tons (compared to the projected 96,000 metric tons) on the regional markets.

    Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019

  • The government is coordinating the activities of donors (including the World Bank, the French Development Agency, the United Nations, and the European Union) and has set up Sector Dialogue Frameworks (SDFs). The National Plan of Action for Effective Development Cooperation has replaced the National Plan for Aid Effectiveness.

    Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019



Burkina Faso: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
179 Avenue du President Save Zerbo
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
For general information and inquiries
Lionel F. Yaro
Communications Officer
For project-related issues and complaints