Norwegian Refugee Council lists displacements in Burkina Faso as world’s most neglected crisis

28 Jun 2024 by The Water Diplomat

On the 3rd of June, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) published its annual report  of the world’s most neglected displacement crises. In the wake of a conflict that has been raging in the country since 2019, Burkina Faso saw the internal displacement of 1.9 million people by the end of January 2023, rising to 2.1 million by the end of January 2024.  707,000 people during 2023 and a doubling of the number of people killed in violence. This has compounded problems with access to water and sanitation in the country, where levels of access to basic drinking water services have declined from 57,5% in 2000 to 49,5% in 2022, as against levels of access to basic and improved sanitation services which increased from a low base of 6,9% in 2000 to 15,1% in 2022 according to the Joint Monitoring Programme. However, there are discrepancies between UN figures and national figures on water and sanitation: according to the National Inventory of Hydraulic Works (INO, access to improved sanitation rose from 10,2% in 2000 to 49,5% in 2022. Nevertheless, humanitarian organisations – including the NRCreport that these service levels have been strongly undermined by the conflict, both as a result of internal displacement and as a result of the blockading of urban areas.      

In addition to the internally displaced population, an estimated 2 million people were trapped in blockaded towns around the country, providing limited options for humanitarian organisations to provide assistance. In some towns, the rate of access to safely managed water supplies has fallen by 40%. It is also estimated that currently, over 5,700 schools and nearly 350 health facilities are no longer functional as a result of insecurity. Reliefweb reports that since 2022, there has been an increase in the number of attacks on water points, spreading from the Sahel region to the centre-north, north, and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. In total 58 water points were attacked in 2022, leaving 830,000 people without water services, and these attacks continued during 2023 such that an additional 149, 123 people have been left without functioning services.  

In March, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that in total 6,3 million people in the country (amounting to some 27% of the population of the country) are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which 3.8 million are covered by the response plan. According to OXFAM, the great majority (94%) of the internally displaced population are hosted at community level, which places a strain – amongst other things - on water resources. OXFAM reports that some 1,9 million people are in need of water. 

Of the 31 sources of humanitarian aid which are providing support for Burkina Faso, the United States provided 134.7 million, or 39% of the total commitments, followed by the European Union, which allocated € 41,3 million, amounting to 11,9% of the total, while Germany provided 32,9 million, or 9,5% of the total, and multiple donors provided 21,8 million through a central emergency response fund.  

Despite the clear need for humanitarian support, the NRC reports that only 37% of the funding required in terms of the humanitarian response plan was covered in 2023, down from 43% in 2022. By June 15, 2024, only 15% of the humanitarian response plan had been funded.