BURKINA FASO: Young girls at risk as they join exodus to cities

Published on IRINnews, by np/mw, 4 June 2010.

LOUTA, 4 June 2010 (IRIN) – Migration in search of work has long been common in Sourou Province, northern Burkina Faso, but the trend is increasingly for younger girls to join the exodus, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the NGO Terre des hommes (Tdh).

“Migration is after all a method of survival,” Herman Zoungrana, head of Tdh’s protection programme in Burkina Faso, told IRIN. He said traditionally after the harvest people would fill up their granaries then set out to find work until the next planting season. 

“But with younger and younger girls migrating, the risk of exploitation and violence grows,” he said. Residents told IRIN in many cases parents encouraged their children to migrate – “because here we live in misery”, as one woman put it … //

… UNICEF’s Ouédraogo said a study done near the border with Mali showed that poverty and lack of education were the reason girls see no other option than to seek work as a servant for urbanites. In a recent report, Tdh said in the Toéni villages, 72 percent of girls aged seven to 14 were not in school in 2007. More than 95 percent of girls could not read or write.

In some cases status is also a driving force, Ouédraogo said. Families want their girls to make money so they can have special clothes and other items for ceremonies like marriages and baptisms, she said.

But mostly the extra income is about survival, said village chief Ouona Dembélé. “It’s difficult to offer alternatives to migration to these young girls, because there is practically nothing here [in Louta village]. If we could keep some kind of income-generating activities going here, no girls would have to leave the village for the city.”

Many Louta residents said a lack of water severely hampers any development that could improve living conditions.

Villagers said if water were more available, for one, market gardening could thrive and more young people could take part. Aid workers in Burkina Faso told IRIN they have to limit gardening and other agricultural assistance projects for lack of water, a common problem in many regions of the country.

Louta, where farming and livestock are the main economic activities for a population of 2,500, has no health centre or maternity care facility. (full text).

Comments are closed.