The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received an additional EUR 5 million in funding from the European Union (EU) in 2022 to contribute to providing life-saving food assistance to 1.6 million people in Burkina Faso who are unable to meet their basic food needs due to conflict, the impact of climate change, and the socio-economic fallout caused by COVID-19.

The EU’s contribution, received through the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (ECHO), is helping WFP avoid an interruption in its operations providing vital food assistance to populations affected by food insecurity in isolated or hard-to-reach areas of the country.

With frequent reports of people fleeing their villages to escape violence, humanitarian needs in Burkina Faso are significantly high and the lack of funding only allows for sporadic or short-term assistance.

“In 2021, WFP had to make the difficult decision to cut food rations for people who were already struggling to feed themselves and their children,” said Antoine Renard, WFP Country Director and Representative in Burkina Faso. “With the lean season at our doorstep, this contribution from the European Union is most welcome as it will help prevent an interruption of our critical food assistance.”

Overall last year, 2.9 million people — or 13 per cent of the population — struggled to feed themselves at the peak of the lean season. WFP was able to reach 1.6 million of them with life-saving assistance in the form of in-kind food and cash-based transfers through emergency operations and rapid responses. However, rations had to be cut by one third or half due to funding constraints. Sustained food assistance was made possible thanks to donors’ engagement including the EU’s contribution of EUR 5.5 million received in 2021.

According to the March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé food security assessment, 2.4 million people are currently in need of a form of assistance in Burkina Faso. This figure is projected to reach 3.5 million persons at the peak of the lean season between June and August.

Maintaining regular food assistance with full food rations is vital, especially during the lean season when rural populations have to invest all their scarce resources into fieldwork in June, pending the new harvest in September.