New study on protection mechanisms and risks faced by children in Burkina Faso

by Danish Refugee Council | Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - Denmark
Monday, 13 January 2014 09:15 GMT

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Children of refugees and host communities children are facing a high number of risks, due to their difficult socio-economic situation shows new study from the Danish Refugee Council.

The Danish Refugee Council’s recent study on risks faced by children and on existing protection mechanisms in northern Burkina Faso highlights the main concerns expressed by refugees and host regarding their children’s safety and future prospects. On top of displaying distortions in aid allocation, the study reveals that the main causes of anxiety for parents, children and stakeholders on the field are usually linked to some socio-cultural customs incompatible with children’s physical integrity and wellbeing; psycho-social concerns; harsh economic and living conditions and the global change of lifestyle induced by the Malian conflict.

In order to cope with those risks, both refugees and local people have relied on existing protection mechanisms at family and community levels. Depending on the hazard, it is implicitly agreed that the adults and the eldest children have a role to play in looking after the youngest and intervening to protect them if needed. As for the village authorities, they are usually in charge of making sure that the kids have access to school, health care, sufficient food, etc.

The study puts forward a few recommendations which, if implemented, could make children’s protection in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso more effective and durable. Improving communication and coordination of initiatives between communities and stakeholders on the field is one of them. Integrating more extensively the specific needs of children and youth in more community oriented ways of designing programming is another to find a balance between the tradition and the rights based approach. Reinforcing the preexisting social and legal systems is a third sizeable one to best protect children.

The study, qualitative in nature, results from 426 individual interviews conducted in July 2013 in the provinces of Soum and Oudalan, in association with UNICEF. 76% of the interviewed were “hosts”, while 24% were refugees (living both in and outside non official sites).

The Danish Refugee Council has been present in Burkina Faso since the beginning of 2013, providing direct assistance and protection monitoring for approximately 10 000 beneficiaries, including Malian refugees and Burkina Faso host communities. Willing to promote social cohesion, DRC also endeavors to strengthen and build local partnership, communities’ capacity for self-protection and in order to improve the well-being of children.

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