Villages of Burkina Faso and Life Outside the Cities
Life in the rural villages of Burkina Faso is very different from life in towns and cities. Below is a description of life in the rural areas of Burkina Faso, as well as a photo of a small village market. Or you can go directly to the page for one of the villages below. It may be helpful to refer to a detailed online map to locate the various villages.
In the many small villages of Burkina Faso, there is usually no electricity, although every now and then you will see a solar panel or rechargeable car battery running a television or stereo, and you might find an occasional gas-operated refrigerator. Many villages have a telephone cabine (a public phone), although in some cases the closest phone is in another village 10 or more kilometers away. Some villages have telephones at the health center or school, if there is one. In Burkina Faso, Peace Corps volunteers are generally stationed in villages where they can get to a telephone without traveling too far.
Serial television programs from other countries can be quite a community event. During the summer of 1999, at 7:30 four nights a week all around Burkina Faso, people gathered to watch the ongoing Brazilian soap opera, "L'Histoire d'Amour" (dubbed in French). In the fall of 1999, when those episodes finished, the Mexican soap opera "Mari Mar" took over (one volunteer compares it to "Melrose Place"). Whether in larger cities like Ouahigouya, Ouagadougou, or Bobo-Dioulasso, or in villages like Zogoré or Gassan, on M/T/Th/F at 7:30, other social events are likely to take a back seat to Mari Mar.
People (and Peace Corps volunteers) living in villages have to get water every day or find someone to bring it in a large container with a cart. Sometimes there are wells, but they can get pretty low and grungy by the end of the dry season in about May. In recent years, the drastic problems created by drought and famine in this very poor country have greatly diminished thanks to wide-scale building of "barrages" (reservoirs), with the help of non-governmental aid organizations (NGOs or in French ONGs). Now many villages, especially those with more than about 5000 people, have a barrage, and some barrages have almost enough water to last through the long dry season (more than six months), allowing vastly expanded farming efforts to feed local communities.
Markets are usually held in the villages every 3 days or so, but some villages only have an occasional market or have one once a week. In a village market, you might be able to find a few vegetables, like tomatoes and onions, and occasional seasonal treats like mangoes, as well as a limited selection of household items, fabric, school supplies, and flip-flops (called tapettes in Burkina Faso). In larger markets, you can find fabric, second-hand clothes, cooking utensils, and even locally made jewelry or art.
Click on the thumbnail image to see the larger photo.