Peace Corps resumed work in Burkina Faso in 1995 after an eight-year absence. Upon request of the government, Volunteers arrived to work in primary healthcare in rural communities.
Two years later, the Ministry of Secondary Education requested Volunteers to work with middle schools, high schools, a teacher-training college, and a university to make up for large shortfalls in qualified teachers.
In 2003, the government and Peace Corps collaborated to start a small enterprise development project in microfinance and agribusiness. The girls' education and empowerment program began in 2005 in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic Education.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso
The Peace Corps entered Burkina Faso, then called Upper Volta, in 1967 and operated there uninterrupted for 20 years. Major projects included forestry extension, young farmer education, small enterprise development, secondary education (math, science, and English language), water well construction, agricultural and environmental extension, arts and crafts, basketball coaching, and parks development. In June 1986, the government of Burkina Faso asked the Peace Corps to cease sending Volunteers because the Peace Corps’ programs no longer coincided with Burkina Faso’s development goals. The 30 Volunteers in the country completed their service in 1987. In 1995, 19 trainees arrived in Burkina Faso as part of a newly established health project. One year later, the Peace Corps established a secondary education project in response to the government’s urgent request for teachers. In 2003, in response to government initiatives and articulated local needs, a small enterprise development project began with 15 trainees. A girls’ education project started in 2005. Currently, nearly 170 Volunteers work throughout the country, primarily in rural areas. Approximately 1,500 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Burkina Faso to date.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
The government ministry to which you are assigned or your community will provide you with safe and adequate housing in accordance with the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria. The majority of health Volunteers live in small rural villages, while education Volunteers tend to live in larger villages and towns. Volunteer housing is typically a small house made of mud or cement bricks with a thatch or tin roof. Many Volunteers do not have running water or electricity; they draw their water from a well and obtain light through kerosene lanterns. Nearly all Volunteers are within one hour of a neighboring Volunteer and eight hours of the Peace Corps office in Ouagadougou by public transport.
Main article: Training in Burkina Faso
During the first several days of training, you will stay at a training center or hotel in the capital. After this orientation period, you will move to Ouahigouya, a regional capital north of Ouagadougou. Trainees will be placed in clusters of four to five people along with a language and cross-culture facilitator. Health and girls’ education clusters will be located in villages a short distance from Ouahigouya. Clusters of small enterprise development and secondary education trainees will most likely be based in Ouahigouya.
Trainees will be assigned to a host family where they will live for the duration of pre-service training. The host family experience, which Volunteers in Burkina Faso consider one of the most critical elements of training, allows you to gain hands-on experience in some of the new skills you are expected to acquire. Most Volunteers remain in close contact with their host families throughout their service.
At the beginning of training, the training staff will outline the goals that each trainee has to achieve before becoming a Volunteer and the criteria that will be used to assess progress toward those goals. The training director, along with the language, technical, and cross-cultural trainers, will work with you toward the highest possible achievement of training goals by providing you with feedback throughout training. After successful completion of pre-service training, you will be sworn-in as a Volunteer and make final preparations to depart for your site.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Burkina Faso
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Burkina Faso maintains a clinic with two full-time medical officers, who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Burkina Faso at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to a medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Burkina Faso
In Burkina Faso, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics considered familiar and commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Burkina Faso.
Outside of Burkina Faso’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Burkina Faso are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Burkina Faso
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Burkina Faso?
- What is the electric current in Burkina Faso?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Burkina Faso friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Burkina Faso?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing list for Burkina Faso
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Burkina Faso and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Burkina Faso.
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Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Burkina Faso Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Burkina Faso. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Burkina Faso
- Sites where volunteers have served in Burkina Faso
- The Friends of Burkina Faso
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Burkina Faso
- Inspector General Reports