Mother and child from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Located in Burkina Faso, a tiny landlocked West African nation, Ouagadougou has been impacted by the political turmoil and economic difficulties of its neighbours. A rapidly increasing population coupled with limited social infrastructure and a shortage of opportunities for education and employment have left many families vulnerable. 

SOS Children’s Village is working to strengthen local families, supporting parents and carers and working towards a brighter future for the city’s children. 

A city changed by political and economic pressures

The interestingly named Ouagadougou (it is a Francophone adaptation of the Yonyonse word meaning “where people get honour and respect”) is Burkina Faso’s most important city. It has a population of more than 1.5 million and is the country’s administrative, economic and cultural centre. The city’s primary industries are textiles and despite its size and importance, employment opportunities are limited for a large section of the population.

During the last decade, Burkina Faso has been affected by the ethnic conflict in the Côte d'Ivoire. Increases in food prices and shortages of basic supplies resulted, causing hardship for many Ouagadougou residents. Violent clashes in the Côte d'Ivoire’s major cities led to many refugees crossing the border to Burkina Faso, including a large influx in early 2012, which saw 20,000 refugees fleeing violence in Mali.

Political tensions

Important social challenges for Burkina Faso have arisen as a result of the political tensions in neighbouring countries and also as a result of the 2011 drought, in which many crops failed. Shortages of basic necessities including food, shelter and medicine, and tensions within a struggling populace, are serious problems for many families and individuals living in Ouagadougou. 

 In 2011, riots broke out in Ouagadougou, and although peace has been restored in 2014, the riots had a negative impact on the country’s fragile economy and discontentment and unrest are still evident in the population. The recent increases in global food prices continue to adversely affect the livelihood and wellbeing of the local population.

Improving the outlook for unemployed youth

Today, unemployment is Ouagadougou’s single most challenging social issue. Burkina Faso’s population is young, with around 46% of the population under the age of 15 years. Youth unemployment levels are high and compounded by the large numbers of young people migrating to the city each year in search of work. Employment opportunities are limited and although there are some seasonal, agricultural jobs available, it is difficult work and there are not enough positions available to cater to the majority of job seekers. Unemployment and the influx of new residents have significantly increased poverty levels in Ouagadougou in recent years.

Financial hardship and lack of opportunities have put many families in a very vulnerable position and most require urgent support for even the most basic needs. Opportunities for education or vocational training for children and young people are limited, and the future seems bleak. Improved social infrastructure and educational opportunities are vital for Ouagadougou to turn around the futures of its children, allowing them the chance to develop into self-sufficient, happy and confident adults.

Our work in Ouagadougou

Child from Dasse, Benin
A child from Dasse in Benin

In 1997, SOS Children began working with the families of Ouagadougou, helping vulnerable children and supporting parents and carers through a family-strengthening programme. Approximately 250 people currently benefit from the help offered by SOS.

We work to ensure that local children in need have access to education as well as heath and basic social services. SOS families provide a loving home for over 100 children who cannot grow up with their parents.

The SOS nursery is open to children from the neighbourhood, giving children from the Village the opportunity to integrate with their community from an early age. cal families, allowing them to integrate with their community from an early age. Following nursery school, the children graduate to the primary school where they learn valuable skills for their lives as young adults.

Supported through to independence

The SOS youth home offers semi-independent living for young adults so they can continue education or skills training while preparing for the challenges of adult life. Our youth workers help them adapt to the demands of independent life, from managing money and working with others, to looking after a home and being a responsible member of society. 

Our SOS social centre provides care and support as well as practical health and counselling services to families affected by HIV/AIDS. We assist parents and carers with advice on parenting skills and income-generating activities, helping them to build their confidence and capacity to care for their children.

From nursery through to adolescence and adulthood, we support vulnerable children in Burkina Faso to have a thriving life. Will you join us, and sponsor a child today? 


SOS Children has been working for Africa's children to help orphans since 1971.