Association Burkina Canada works in and around Léo, a town located in the province of Sissili in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is a small landlocked country in francophone West Africa. The country is extremely poor, with an average GDP per capita of US $345, and approximately 81 per cent of its population surviving on less than US $2 per day. In 2005, the country ranked 175th out of 177 countries in terms of its Human Development Index (HDI), a summary measure of a country’s human development produced by the United Nations.

The province of Sissili is located in the central-west region of Burkina Faso. The small town of Léo serves as the provincial capital. It is located 165 kilometers south of the national capital, Ouagadougou, and 13 kilometers north of the Republic of Ghana. As throughout the country, a high percentage of Sissili’s population is unemployed or underemployed. The province also suffers from a high incidence of HIV/AIDS infection, which results in a large number of AIDS orphans.

In Burkina Faso, as in much of Africa, orphans are usually cared for by extended family members. Due to widespread poverty and the lack of income-earning opportunities, these caretakers are often unable to afford a formal education for their dependants. Unfortunately, government spending on education in sub-Saharan Africa is only approximately five per cent (5%) of public expenditures. In Burkina Faso, even public schools charge school fees and require students to buy school uniforms and books, and there is a lack of educational support for orphans and vulnerable children and their families.

Because of the high poverty rate in the region, a large number of children in Sissili cannot attend or drop out of school. The poor living conditions of these children force them to abandon a formal education, which leads to a high incidence of street children and unemployed youth in the area.

ABC works to improve the living conditions of orphans and other vulnerable children in Sissili by providing them with educational opportunities. Our work is based on the belief that education offers children a chance to break the cycle of poverty and lead happier and more productive lives.