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Living in Burkina Faso
A practical guide to the way of life in Burkina Faso
Living in Burkina Faso is difficult and sometimes overwhelming, but for expats willing to try something new and adventurous, this is definitely a good option: the country boasts of enchanting landscapes and a couple of bigger cities. Find out more in our Relocation Guide!
Life in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is a semi-presidential republic in West Africa and shares borders with Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. The nation is not a wealthy one, due to environmental and political factors. The country was previously known as Upper Volta, and the official national language is French.
Healthcare in Burkina Faso
The healthcare expenditure is less than 10% of the GDP with various health issues including AIDS and malaria, the average life expectancy for a Burkinabe man or woman is under 60 years of age. There is also a high neonatal and infant mortality rate. That said, sanitation and water sources are improving, in part due to financial input from the World Health Organization.
The healthcare system in Burkina Faso is divided into eleven regions and 53 health districts. There are five different types of health care offering, including health post, health center, district, regional and national hospitals. Less than 5% of healthcare offered is done so privately.
Education in Burkina Faso
Schooling for children aged between six and 16 is compulsory and free in theory, but the government does not have the funding to execute this. Only around a quarter of children attend school, with a drop off in attendance as children get older. This has led to a national literacy problem, with some of the lowest rates in the world.
The International School of Ouagadougou in the capital city is an English language school offering education from pre-kindergarten through to Grade 12, following a slightly modified American curriculum. The school is an accredited member of the Association of International Schools in Africa and sits on a seven acre site, close to the residential area of Ouagadougou. The school’s facilities are excellent, including sports pitches and courts, computer lab, swimming pool and science facility.
Expatriates moving to Burkina Faso with children may wish to consider residing in Zone do Bois, where the school is located. There are both public and private universities in Burkina Faso. The three most prominent public universities are The Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso, The University of Koudougou and The University of Ouagadougou.
Transportation in Burkina Faso
The infrastructure in Burkina Faso cannot support a sophisticated public transport network. There are around 12,500 km of roads, but only around 2,000 km of these are paved, mainly in and around the cities. Expatriates working in Burkina Faso will be likely traveling around by car. There is an infrequent train service operated by Sitarail that runs along a single railway line from Kaya to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, via the four main cities of Ouagadougou, Koudougou, Bobo Dioulasso and Banfora. There is an international airport in the capital of Ouagadougou that has flights to many cities in West African countries, as well as a few European capital cities.
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