Threats of famine and insecurity: the anxieties surrounding Burkina Faso’s elections11/11/2020

Tensions run high this month as Burkina Faso’s presidential and parliamentary elections approach,with the possibility of some parts of the country being left unable to vote due to extremist group presence, the economic repercussions of COVID-19, and worrying food insecurity.

According to a joint analysis by the UN agencies FAO and WFP, 3.3 million people are facing a food crisis in the country, doubling from the end of 2019, aggravated by COVID-19, displacement, and insecurity. If the situation does not change, many areas in the country may be at risk of famine. Sources suggest that residents in areas affected by violence are more concerned about attacks from armed groups and where to find their next meal than voting for a president.

ConnectAID and its nonprofit partners hold several social impact projects in Burkina helping children and disadvantaged populations. “As the violence in Burkina Faso and other neighbouring African countries continues to grow, it is becoming more and more imperative that the international community takes the necessary steps to reduce violence by preventing conflict, protecting vulnerable populations and rebuilding societies” said Gaëlle Mogli, Founder of ConnectAID, the International Solidarity Network. “We all have a role to play in making sure humanitarian aid reaches out to those who need it.”

With armed groups terrorizing rural areas in a country with over one million displaced people, coupled with the economic consequences of COVID-19 and increasing food insecurity, Burkina Faso could find itself in a similar situation to neighbouring Mali, where a disputed election earlier this year gave rise to months of protests that eventually led to a military coup in August.

A divisive new law passed in August this year has changed the rules of the election stating that results will be valid even if turnout is extremely low, or if many areas of the country are unable to vote due to the presence of extremist groups. Even before the violence began, voter registration and turnout were low in Burkina Faso, with only five million out of 11 million eligible voters registering in the 2015 polls.

As for the November 2020 elections, media sources suggest that more than 400,000 people were unable to register to vote as a result of the lack of security. Even with helicopters helping humanitarian aid volunteers and staff traverse the country, at least 1000 villages were inaccessible, amounting to roughly 166,000 new potential voters.

By Anna Robinson, ConnectAID
Source : UN, The New Humanitarian, WFP

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