Protecting children and promoting their rights

Project description

Title: PRO-Child, Implementing child rights in Burkina Faso
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burkina Faso
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Economy, Finance and Development
Overall term: 2016 to 2018



Burkina Faso has a young population. Over half its citizens are below the age of 18 and as such are considered children under the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Burkina Faso has ratified all key international agreements on child protection and child rights. Despite the positive legal framework, children are exposed to a wide range of violations of their rights.

Four out of every ten children play an active role in supporting themselves or their family; this applies to over one third of girls and almost half of all boys. In 96 per cent of cases, the work they do is seen as harmful to their development and in 87 per cent of cases as dangerous. They often labour under exploitative conditions. Only one quarter of economically active children also have an opportunity to attend school.

The legal age for marriage is 20 years for boys and 17 for girls. However, a provision for exemption makes it possible for parents to bestow daughters as young as 15 in marriage. In 2010, an average of 17.4 per cent of all girls aged between 15 and 17 living in rural areas across the country were already married.

Child marriages and a lack of sex education result in unwanted teenage pregnancies. Girls who become pregnant are generally left with no choice but to drop out of school. Almost one in three girls under the age of 18 has already given birth to a child.

Female genital mutilation was made illegal in Burkina Faso in 1996. Since then, occurrence of the practice has steadily declined. However, even in 2010 on average 13 per cent of girls under the age of 14 were circumcised.


The national system to protect children from trafficking, the worst forms of child labour and gender-related violence (child marriage, forced marriage and female genital mutilation) is strengthened.


The programme advises and supports the partner ministries, in particular the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry for Women, National Solidarity and Family. In the intervention zones in the southwest and east of the country, the programme works directly with the decentralised state structures of the partner ministries and with organisations run by civil society, the private sector and municipalities.

At the political level, the programme supports the partner ministries with devising national strategies and implementing their plans of action. With a view to developing networks to protect children, the programme works with the partner ministries to prepare technical documents, standards and guidelines. In addition, PRO-Child advises the partner ministries on establishing a system to collect and evaluate data on child rights. In the intervention zones the programme provides training for staff of the partner ministries and in social services on issues of child rights, child protection and on psychosocial counselling for children who are the victims of violence and exploitation.

At the decentralised level, the programme helps to set up child protection networks and define roles and responsibilities. Here, too, the actors involved are given training on children’s rights, child protection and coordination of child protection networks. The programme supports municipalities with integrating measures to protect children into their municipal action plans. As the main target group, children are actively involved in the process of setting up child protection activities.

In cooperation with the consulting company AMBERO, the programme raises awareness of the aforementioned issues among the population. In addition, parents, children and members of the municipalities are given information on available counselling and support services.