Indigenous peoples in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso has a population of 14,017,262 (4th General Census of Population and Housing, December 2006) comprising some 60 different ethnic groups.

The indigenous peoples include the pastoralist Peul (also called the fulbe duroobe egga hodaabe, or, more commonly, duroobe or egga hodaabe) and the Tuareg. There are no reliable statistics on the exact number of pastoralists in Burkina Faso.

They can be found throughout the whole country but are particularly concentrated in the northern regions of:

  • Séno
  • Soum
  • Baraboulé
  • Djibo
  • Liptaako
  • Yagha
  • Oudalan

Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Burkina Faso

The Peul and the Tuareg most often live in areas which are geographically isolated, dry and economically marginalized and they are often the victims of human rights abuses.

Burkinabe nomadic pastoralists, even if innocent of any crime, have thus been subjected to numerous acts of violence: their houses burnt, their possessions stolen, their animals killed or disappeared, children and the elderly killed, bodies left to decay and their families forbidden from retrieving them.

Peul pastoralists are gradually becoming sedentarised in some parts of Burkina Faso. There are, however, still many who remain nomadic, following seasonal migrations and travelling hundreds of kilometres into neighbouring countries, particularly Togo, Benin and Ghana.

Unlike other populations in Burkina Faso, the nomadic Peul are pastoralists whose whole lives are governed by the activities necessary for the survival of their animals and many of them still reject any activity not related to extensive livestock rearing. 

No Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples

The existence of indigenous peoples is not recognized by the Constitution of Burkina Faso. The Constitution guarantees education and health for all; however, due to lack of resources and proper infrastructure, the nomadic populations can, in practice, only enjoy these rights to a very limited extent.

Burkina Faso voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Burkina Faso to learn about major developments and events during 2015