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Burkina Faso
Preface Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:20 AM

Burkina Faso, whose name means “country of men with integrity,” sits at the edge of the Sahel in the heart of West Africa. Despite being one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, the Burkinabe are known for their hospitality. They have very few natural resources but have managed to fashion a pleasant and culturally sophisticated country out of the little that they do have.

Despite progress on the democratic front, Burkina Faso faces many serious challenges. Literacy rates and school enrollment rank among the lowest in the entire world. With its limited natural resources and low education levels, the majority of Burkinabe remain engaged in subsistence agriculture. Approximately 7% of Burkinabe adults suffer from AIDS. To make matters worse, the recent turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire has not only cut one of Burkina Faso’s major trade routes, but it has dramatically reduced the ability of expatriate Burkinabe to find work and send remittances to support family inside Burkina. While there have been hopeful signs in most of these areas, the government and people of Burkina Faso still have a great deal of work ahead of them if they are to successfully address these issues.

While there are daily reminders of the poverty here, for the most part, Burkina Faso does not appear to have the terrible urban poverty that plagues so many African countries. For most new arrivals, in fact, Burkina’s climate poses the greatest challenge — at its worst, the heat and dust can make the prospect of venturing out unattractive. Fortunately, the dust storms pass and newcomers become acclimated relatively quickly to the high temperatures. Once acclimated, most members of the Embassy community find life in Ouagadougou to be fairly pleasant, especially if they make the effort to learn and use French. In fact, many members of the expatriate community believe that Ouagadougou is one of the cleanest and most secure cities in all of West Africa. Younger children do well in Ouagadougou. Older children, especially those who don’t speak French, may have a harder time adjusting to the limited social opportunities and relatively small English-speaking population. In addition, spouses should be aware that there are very limited employment opportunities, even if one speaks excellent French.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:20 AM

Burkina Faso, a landlocked country, is located in the middle of West Africa’s “hump.” Covering 274,000 square kilometers, nearly the size of Colorado, Burkina Faso is bordered on the north and west by Mali, on the northeast by Niger, on the southeast by Benin and on the south by Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. Burkina is a savanna plateau, with an average elevation of 500 meters. The highest point is Tenakourou (747 meters), in the west. Burkina Faso’s three main rivers are the Mouhoun, the Nazinou, and the Nakambe, tributaries that form Ghana’s Volta River. Situated in the same time zone as Greenwich, England, Burkina Faso is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. (Four hours ahead of eastern daylight time.)

Much of Burkina lies in the Sahel, the fringe of the Sahara. The north gradually dries out into scrub and semi-desert, but comes to life during the rainy season, with green shrubs and thorn trees. Toward the south are areas of savannah and wooded savannah, including the shea and baobab trees that are of agricultural importance. Wildlife in Burkina’s eastern and southern areas includes elephants, antelope, hippos, monkeys, crocodiles, lions and buffalo. Bird and insect life is rich and varied.

Burkina Faso’s climate is sunny, hot, dry, and dusty. The hot season is from mid-February to June, when maximum temperatures exceed 104° F in the shade. The rainy season typically lasts from June to September. The first rains, called the mango rains, usually begin in May/June and provide some relief from the heat and dust. Annual rainfall ranges from about 10 inches in the extreme north to nearly 40 inches in the south. Temperatures begin to moderate in late September/early October as the rainy season winds down. Mid-November to mid-February is the cool season — with high temperatures in the 80s and lows in the 60s. The Harmattan, a hot, dust-laden wind from the Sahara, often blows in January and February, leading to reduced visibility and temporarily unpleasant living conditions.

Population Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:12 AM

Burkina Faso is one of the most densely populated states of West Africa with 12.6 million people. More than 50 distinct ethnic groups are represented in Burkina Faso, but ethnic friction is rare. Major groups include the Mossi who represent over 40% of the population and occupy Ouagadougou and much of the central portion of the country, the Bobo and Senoufo in the southwest, esp. around Bobo-Dioulasso, the Peulh, Fulani, Tuareg and Bella who live in the north, and the Lobi-Dagari and Gourounsi in the south. In addition, thousands of Nigerians, Malians, Ghanaians, and people from other neighboring countries live and work in Burkina Faso. An even larger number of Burkinabe work in neighboring countries, especially Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, although the recent turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire has forced many Burkinabe to return home.

The official government language and the language taught in school is French, although many Burkinabe often speak several different languages. The language of the Mossi tribe, called Moré, is spoken by about half of the population. Dioula (called Bambara in Mali) is a common language of the Western population. Peulh is the third most spoken ethnic language.

Traditional society in Burkina Faso is based on the extended family. However, an urban elite, follow cultural traditions of both Africa and Europe, especially France. According to the 2002 CIA Fact Book, about 40% of Burkinabe practice only traditional African religion, about 50% are Moslem, and about 10% are Christians—mostly Roman Catholics—but with an increasing number of Protestants as well.

Ouagadougou, the capital, is home to approximately 1 million people and combines modern and traditional Africa, with many paved streets, a commercial center, and many large government buildings. The residential areas contain large shade trees, packed dirt streets, and walled compounds. There are several artificial lakes (barrages) at the edge of Ouagadougou that serve as the towns water reservoirs. Apart from Ouagadougou, principal towns include Bobo-Dioulasso, Koudougou, Ouahigouya, Kaya, Fada N’Gourma, and Banfora.

In 2002, services (including government) represented 47% of GDP, agriculture represented 36%, and industry was 17%. About 90% of the population is engaged in agriculture or stock rearing, primarily on a subsistence basis. With such a limited industrial base and few natural resources, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world — yearly per capita income averages about $210 and roughly 45% of all Burkinabe live below Burkina Faso’s declared poverty line (~$100/year). Not surprisingly, average life expectancy is only 47 years.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:21 AM

Burkina Faso is a parliamentary republic. The President (usually titled “President du Faso”) is Chief of State, the President of the Council of Ministers, and head of the executive branch. The Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President with legislative consent, is Head of Government. The 111-member National Assembly is popularly elected for 5-year terms. The House of Representatives is a consultative upper chamber of members chosen from geographical, sociopolitical, religious, and other groups.

Burkina Faso’s current constitution was approved by referendum in 1991; in 2000 it was amended to reduce the presidential term from seven to five years and allow for a single reelection as of 2005. At this point, it is unclear whether this amendment will be applied retroactively to the current president.

Administratively Burkina Faso is divided into 13 regions and 45 provinces. Given its experience as a French colony, much of Burkina Faso’s government and legal system is patterned after the French system. Although the government is moving towards the establishment of a viable regional system of government, provincial government is currently more developed. Each province is led by a centrally-appointed Haute-Commissaire. From a policy perspective, the government is focused on the following areas: improvements in health (including the fight against AIDS, and improving health care delivery services), investment in basic education, and improvements in agriculture (including reductions in the rate of desertification).

Burkina Faso is a member of the U.N. and its specialized and related agencies; Organization of African Unity (OAU); Council of the Entente; West African Economic Community (CEAO); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU); Niger Basin Authority; Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought control in the Sahel (CILSS); Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Nonaligned Movement; and Lome Convention.

Burkina Faso has had a somewhat stormy relationship with the United States and other developed Western countries during its history. Although Burkina Faso maintained a generally pro-Western foreign policy from 1960 to 1983, during the Sankara years, it highlighted non-aligned credentials and proclaimed its affinity with Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and the then Soviet Union. Under its current President, Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso has distanced itself from Sankara’s socialist policies and has placed a greater emphasis on foreign economic assistance. At the same time, however, the government has maintained close ties with a number of African leaders and regimes that are viewed unfavorably by the United States. Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Ghana, Libya, Mali, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, Taiwan, and the U.S. have embassies or consulates in Burkina Faso.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:21 AM

Burkina Faso has led the way in the renaissance of African art and culture. Ouagadougou hosts two of the most important pan-African art and culture events, Le Salon International de l’Artisanat de Ouagadougou (SIAO), a biennial international arts and crafts festival (next scheduled for October 2004), and Le Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO), Francophone Africa’s major biennial film festival (next scheduled for February/March of 2005). Both of these events attract artists and aficionados from around Africa and the world. While these events are the highlights of Burkina Faso’s art and culture scene, they are by no means the only activities in this arena.

Burkinabe masks, metal sculpture, woodcarving, textiles, pottery, music, dancing, and theater are all well known in West Africa. Traditional music and dance performances are frequent and will be featured in any village ceremony or public event. Modern interpretations of traditional designs, works in nontraditional media, traveling exhibits, and works of individual African and Western artists can be seen at numerous locations in Ouagadougou. In addition, there are a number of sites around Ouagadougou and elsewhere in the country where one can see artisans at work.

Ouagadougou is home to the UN’s world headquarters for the eradication of River Blindness, and several U.S. and European Universities have study programs bringing students or researchers to Burkina Faso. Burkina also has several specialized research centers, many with connections to French organizations. One of the most important tropical disease research centers in West Africa, L’Organisation de Coopération et de Coordination pour la Lutte Contre les Grandes Endémies (OCCGE), is headquartered in Bobo-Dioulasso. Several other institutes in Ouagadougou carry on social science studies and work in agricultural and economic development.

Education continues to be one of Burkina Faso’s greatest needs. The adult literacy rate is about 19.2%; only 32% of school-age children are in school. While public education is compulsory under law, even the relatively low fees are prohibitive for much of the population. Moreover, most schools are overcrowded and understaffed. Private education is permitted, and it is common in Ouagadougou. Public and private secondary education is on the French model, leading to the baccalaureate degree. Currently, about 40 Peace Corps volunteers teach at the secondary level throughout Burkina Faso.

The University of Ouagadougou, Burkina’s national university, was formed in April 1974. It consists of five faculties: letters, arts, and social sciences; law and political science; economics and management; technical science; and medicine. Students who complete a 3-year course of study are awarded the “license”, roughly equivalent to the American Bachelor’s Degree. Those who complete the 4th year are awarded the “Maitrise,” or Master’s Degree. In addition, there are four institutes: Technology, Science of Education (the teachers’ college), Rural Development, and Computer Science. Over the last few years, the University has been the site of numerous student protests regarding both university specific issues (fees, living conditions, etc.) as well as national political issues. Much of the 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 academic years was lost to strikes; student protests also disrupted classes for roughly two months during the 2002–2003 academic year.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:21 AM

Burkina Faso is one of the least industrialized nations in Africa and its commercial viability is linked to the stability of its neighbors. The ports of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Lome (Togo) have historically served as key shipping points for Burkina’s imports and exports. With the ongoing instability in Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina (and its neighbors) have been struggling to develop alternative transportation routes as well as to find ways to offset the economic losses resulting from the decline in trade with Cote d’Ivoire. Since the start of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire in September of 2002, Burkina has experienced ongoing disruption in the flow of goods to and from its major trade partners.

Only a small fraction of Burkinabe are directly involved in industry (2%) and services (5.5%). Industry mainly involves the industrial processing of agricultural products in such areas as breweries, pasta-making plants, leather and hide processing, textile mills, and mechanical and metal processing units. Most manufacturing is located in Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouagadougou, and Koudougou. Once state-run, most factories have been privatized as part of a structural-adjustment program with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Some mineral deposits, including gold, manganese, copper, and limestone, are found in Burkina, but most have yet to be found in large enough quantities to justify large-scale mining.

Burkina Faso suffers from a chronic trade imbalance because it imports most of its consumer and manufactured goods. Despite its trade imbalances, adjustment programs (generally initiated at the prompting of the IMF and World Bank) and the inflow of unilateral transfers have helped reduce the deficit in the balance of payments. Burkina receives substantial commodity aid and technical assistance from many international donors, especially in the areas of infrastructure improvement, health, education, and agricultural productivity.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:22 AM

Although Ouagadougou is a comparatively compact city, employees will almost certainly want a personal vehicle, as public transportation tends to be inconvenient and unreliable. To ensure you have the best possible vehicle (given your driving habits and plans for traveling in and around Burkina), consider the following:

Principal roads in Ouagadougou as well as most of the major inter-city routes are paved and in good condition. The majority of your time will be commuting from a USG residence to the Embassy, thus practically any vehicle will do.

However, if you have a taste of adventure, you may drive on unpaved, poorly maintained roads (even in Ouagadougou). Given the generally rough road conditions off the beaten path, vehicles with high ground clearance and all-wheel or four-wheel drive are generally preferable, as they will enable you to travel more widely with greater confidence, especially during the rainy season.

As with many developing countries, traffic is chaotic and streets are often crammed with cars, mobylettes (mopeds), bicycles, pedestrians, and animals and animal carts. With these conditions, smaller SUVs are an increasingly popular option with many of the Embassy community.

Burkinabé mechanics are most familiar with Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Peugeot and parts for these cars tend to be most available (although not necessarily cheaper). Peugeot, Renault, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Fiat, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota have dealerships in Burkina Faso.epair facilities are significantly less sophisticated than in the developed world — it will be difficult and expensive to repair many of the sophisticated electronic options that are available on many new and late-model vehicles.

If you plan on extensive traveling in Burkina or the region, seriously consider a 4x4 equipped for off-road use (heavy duty shocks, skid plates, brush guards, extra fuel tanks, diesel, etc.). Given the small size of the diplomatic community and overall poverty in Burkina Faso, the resale market for vehicles in Burkina is limited. If you hope to sell your vehicle on departure from Ouagadougou, please bear in mind the following:

You can sell a car on the local market, but individuals without duty-free status must pay a 46.25% tariff if they buy your vehicle.

The small diplomatic community, as well as long-term expatriates, prefer European or Japanese vehicles that are made for this market. 4x4s of choice include Toyota Landcruiser Prado, Nissan Patrol, Nissan Terrano, and Mitsubishi Pajero; sedans tend to be small Peugeots or European model Toyotas.

Among local Burkinabé, the ultra-rich tend to buy high-end 4x4s and luxury sedans (BMW and Mercedes) direct from importers. The few other Burkinabé who can afford cars tend to view most mid-range American cars (cars with a resale value from $7,000–20,000) as too expensive, especially given the problems repairing and maintaining them and with getting credit.

Currently, less than 15 American families with duty-free privileges arrive in Burkina each year (and there are <40 American families total in the country with these privileges). While there are ~150 American missionary families here, most of them buy locally available vehicles (for ease of service and reliability).

As a result, the demand for most American-made vehicles is minimal. Should this change your decision about a vehicle?

If you have a car that you trust, don’t be afraid to bring it, especially if it would be attractive to other diplomats.

Be aware, however, that you may not be able to capture full resale value when you go to leave.

If you’ve removed the catalytic converter, ship the parts to Burkina, as this may make it easier to ship the car to your next assignment (if you can’t sell your car for as much money as you’d like) If you plan on buying a car specifically for Burkina and would prefer not to ship it to your next post, keep the following in mind:

Unless you are arriving during the regular diplomatic rotation cycle (most departing diplomats put their used vehicles on the market in late spring/early summer while most incoming diplomats arrive in late summer/early fall), you will have a very limited choice of vehicles and will likely have to (a) pay full value at a dealer and/or (b) settle on a car that may be older, have more mileage, and fewer amenities than you would like.

Consider using one of the European car import services, as they may be more likely to locate a vehicle that would appeal to residents of Francophone Africa.

Be open to European models; consider buying what the expatriate French/Europeans drive.

If you decide to buy a .model, choose one with the greatest appeal to incoming Americans (among small SUVs, Toyota Rav-4s are currently the most desirable; 4x4s will be more popular than sedans). Choose those amenities that are the most rugged and the likely to have appeal to other potential buyers. Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Burkina

Regardless of whether you buy a new vehicle for this assignment or ship your current vehicle, anyone shipping a car to post is advised to:

Remove the catalytic converter prior to shipment, as unleaded fuel is not available in Burkina. Removing the catalytic converter from newer model vehicles (post 1998) has become more difficult than in the past. Consult the Overseas Briefing Center for contractors that perform this service. Although most fuel intakes will accommodate the local nozzles at gas stations, you should double-check with your mechanic to see if you need to make any additional adjustments to prepare your vehicle for leaded fuel.

Bring a stock of extra tires and commonly used spare parts in your HHE, as parts for most foreign cars are expensive here. You will definitely need extra fuel and air filters. Hose and belt sets, spark plugs, wiper blades, motor oil, fuel injector cleaners and gas treatment mixtures, extra jerry cans for gas and water, etc. are also worth considering.

If your car is not equipped with a full-size spare, consider buying an additional full-size wheel for extra peace of mind on trips outside of Ouagadougou.

Most employees purchase collision, fire, and theft insurance in the U.S. The Embassy coordinates a group liability policy (since local third-party-liability insurance is compulsory) and then bills participating employees on a regular basis. A valid U.S.-issued drivers license is sufficient, although it doesn’t hurt to obtain an international drivers permit from AAA. Shipping Instructions:

If you decide to ship a vehicle to post, you are encouraged to ship it as soon as possible, as transit time can be as long as three months.

From the U.S. or other non-European posts, post recommends containerized consignment on a through-bill of lading for delivery directly to Ouagadougou via the port of Tema in Ghana (ELSO is the most appropriate transit point for POVs from Europe). We strongly urge that detachable vehicle accessories be sent with UAB and/or HHE. Pilferage, though rare, has occurred in the past.




If routed through Europe, add VIA ANTWERP (ELSO)

For POV, please fax or send us a copy of ownership documents, including original invoice for new cars, certificate of origin for second-hand cars, and title or registration papers showing make, model, type, year, engine number, VIN, engine size, etc. to facilitate customs clearance along with estimated declared value for customs purposes. Burkina has no special restrictions regarding type, origin, or age of vehicle to be imported. Fax numbers and mailing addresses are as follows:

Fax: (226) 30 67 23 or (226) 33 02 40 IVG line 770 ext. 4006

Mailing address (via international mail or DHL): American Embassy, Ouagadougou GSO Shipping Department 602 Avenue Raoul Follereau 01 B.P. 35 Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Mailing address (for official Department of State correspondence via pouch): American Embassy, Ouagadougou Attention: GSO Shipping U.S. Department of State Washington, DC 20521–2440

In addition, employees should hand carry the originals of these documents with them to post.

While your vehicle is in transit, you will be authorized home to office transportation until your POV arrives at post and after your POV leaves post. If a vehicle has not been shipped, the Mission provides up to 30 days home to office transportation.

Once your POV arrives in Ouagadougou, GSO will assist in vehicle registration. For information on customs clearance for automobiles, see Customs and Duties.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:22 AM

Taxis provide local transportation in Ouagadougou. The Embassy recommends using radio-dispatched “white taxis” whenever possible. Although “green taxis” are ubiquitous, they tend to operate on fixed routes and are likely to stop anywhere along the route to pick up additional passengers. White taxis operate like standard taxis in the developed world. Fares are based on distance and should be settled before starting the journey. A trip within the city starts at the CFA equivalent of about $1. Rates double after midnight. Tipping is not customary. Should you desire, you can make individual arrangements with local taxi drivers for daily transportation.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:22 AM

Only about 20% of all roads in Burkina Faso are paved, and the driving conditions are less than ideal even in good weather. Given the uncomfortable and inconvenient nature of local transportation, most members of the Embassy community drive their own vehicles when making tourist trips within Burkina as well as to its neighbors. It is possible to rent a vehicle in Ouagadougou, although this service is currently running more than $100/day for a small SUV (and drivers are often required); it is also possible to work with a local tour agency to create your own tour itinerary.

For longer trips, Air Burkina, Senegal Air, and Ghana Air offer service to some of the neighboring countries. For direct travel to Europe and the U.S., Air France is currently the most commonly used carrier for official travel, offering 5 flights a week via Paris. Recently, some smaller North African and European outfits have begun offering direct (or one-stop) service to Europe as well; fares tend to be cheaper, but service and routings generally don’t match Air France’s standards.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:23 AM

All government leased houses are equipped with a telephone, although phone service is the occupant’s responsibility. Direct-dial, long-distance service is available to most countries and to the U.S. — direct dialed calls costs about $2/minute to the U.S. Service quality can vary widely, although connections are generally good. Embassy Fax is available for personal use, at a cost of about $5 per three-minute fax to the U.S.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:23 AM

All direct hire Americans are issued cellphones for official use, and cell phones for personal use are readily available with both full-service and per the minute plans and calling cards. Although cellphones are ubiqutious, cellphone service is generally of a lower standard than in the U.S. In addition, network coverage is limited to the immediate vicinity of Burkina’s largest cities only, and call drops increase in frequency when attempting to call from the urban perimeter.

Internet Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:13 AM

Ouagadougou has several fairly reliable (by developing country standards) local Internet Service Providers; FASONET, CENATRIN, and LIPTINFOR are the three most commonly used services by members of the Embassy community. Each service has its strengths and weaknesses; the Embassy Information Program Office staff can assist you with choosing a provider. In addition, a number of these services require a one-year subscription. As a general rule when you use these, you should expect service that is significantly slower and less reliable than the U.S. Unlimited access currently costs about $30/month plus the cost of the duration of the call. The Embassy has recently installed OpenNet Plus, so speedy Internet access is available at the Embassy to employees and their spouses.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:23 AM

Direct-hire U.S. Government employees assigned to Burkina Faso may use the diplomatic pouch to receive personal letters, magazines, catalogs, and packages. Shipment of liquids, except prescription medication, is prohibited. Personal pouch mail is limited to parcels that do not exceed 17x18x30 and must not weigh more than 45 pounds. U.S. Postal Service regulations prohibit sending registered or insured mail via diplomatic pouch — advise correspondents and mail-order companies accordingly.

Direct-hire employees may send letter mail and audio, videocassettes and DVDs weighing no more than two pounds per shipment to the U.S. via the diplomatic pouch as well. Items must be clearly marked, e.g., “Video Cassette.” Merchandise purchased via mail order/internet while at post may also be returned to the retailer, provided they are clearly marked “Return Merchandise.” Applicable U.S. postage (first class) must be used for all mail. U.S. postage stamps are normally available from the American Recreation Center, and forms are available from the U.S. Postal Service, for purchasing stamps by mail. However, employees are advised to bring a good supply of postage stamps.

The Embassy receives 2 pouch shipments each week (usually on Monday and Friday). Pouch shipments generally take 4–7 days from the Department of State’s mail facility. Outgoing pouch shipments are sent each Friday; these shipments generally take 5 to 10 days in transit. The address for personal pouch mail is:

Name 2440 Ouagadougou Place Dulles, VA 20189–2440

Local postal facilities are reliable for airmail letter service; letters to/from the U.S. typically take 10–14 days. Burkina stamps are available in the mailroom. International airmail for packages, however, is quite expensive and not always reliable. Surface mail is even less reliable. Expect to spend one to two hours at the main post office completing paperwork and waiting in queues should you need to ship packages through the Burkina postal system. The address for international mail is:

Name Ambassade des Etats-Unis 01 B.P. 35 Ouagadougou 01 Burkina Faso

Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/2/2003 2:05 PM

Radio is the most common form of mass communication. In addition to the state-run station, there are a number of independent stations that offer everything from religious and local programming to the BBC, Voice of America, and the French-language services, RFI and Africa #1. Outside of Ouagadougou, short wave receivers are necessary to listen to foreign broadcasts. Currently each residence has satellite receivers that provide access to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) which operates on a North American television sets (NTSC format).

Other options are on the European format PAL (see below) that include Burkina’s government-owned color TV station, Télévision Nationale du Burkina (TNB), which carries programming daily from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, and on weekends from 8:00 a.m. until midnight. News is offered three times daily with the remainder of the airtime filled with French or French-dubbed films and music videos. Some local documentaries are carried, but production costs largely limit the locally produced programs to “talking heads”, including regular programming in six local languages. TV5, a French channel that has tailored its programming to West Africa, is also available. A special antenna must be purchased to receive these channels.

For international programming, a number of employees have had satellite dishes installed and subscribe to international DSTV programming services based out of South Africa. English language programming is the most popular choice at around $50 a month. This service includes three movie channels, CNN, BBC News, a series channel, Cartoon Network and the Discovery Channel. Full programming, which includes both English language channels and French language channels, is available for approximately $78 a month. The initial cost of acquiring and installing the dish and the decoder is around $550.

Burkina Faso uses PAL/SECAM and BETACAM transmission systems that are not compatible with American TV sets. You should plan on bringing either a multi-system TV or a multi-system/multi-speed VCR (or comparable DVD) system. Given the large amount of dust in the air, it is a very good idea to bring cleaning equipment for any of your sensitive electronics.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:23 AM

The government-owned and managed daily newspaper, Sidwaya (“Here is the Truth”), is the newspaper of record and has a daily circulation of 6,000. It is also available on the Internet at Independent local newspapers include l’Observateur-Paalga (“the New Observer”), Le Pays, Le Journal du Soir, as well as two weekly newspapers, L’Indépendant , and Le Journal du Jeudi , a satirical weekly. International papers, including the International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, and Figaro are available at select bookstores in town.

The Burkinabe Movement for Human Rights publishes a quarterly journal on human rights, and a number of political organizations publish newsletters dealing with a wide range of issues. A selection of foreign magazines is also available locally, including Time, Newsweek, le Point, and Jeune Afrique.

The American Cultural Center Information Resource Center and the Community Liaison Office (CLO) have English-language books, magazines, and newspapers for borrowing. In addition, the American Cultural Center has a small video collection for lending, with titles (mostly documentaries) in English and French. The American Recreation Center has a large collection of English-language books and videos that can be borrowed by paying members. The International School of Ouagadougou’s library has English-language children’s books and magazines. The French Cultural Center’s library has variety of French-language books and periodicals for both children and adults.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:24 AM

Ouagadougou has a health unit currently staffed by one part-time European-trained physician, one registered nurse (FSN), one nurse practitioner (Peace Corps), one part-time nurse (Peace Corps) and a laboratory technician. A regional Foreign Service Health Practitioner (RFSHP) based in Niamey visits post monthly and the Regional Medical Officer (RMO) based in Bamako schedules quarterly visits. The Health Unit provides preventive, routine, and emergency medical care. This includes treatment of minor ailments and injuries, laboratory work, immunizations, and dispensary services. It has 2 examination rooms, a recovery room, a laboratory and a pharmacy. The Health Unit is open, Monday through Friday, for routine medical services, with an “on-call” system for after hour emergencies. Services are available to all U.S. contract employees whose contracts specify such services. The Health Unit maintains a list of local physicians available to treat U.S. personnel. Most health unit recommended doctors have been trained abroad.

Dental Care is limited. Although simple or temporary work can be handled in Ouagadougou, more complicated work must be done in Europe or the U.S. A complete and thorough dental checkup and all dental work should be accomplished before departing for Burkina Faso.

Optician: A few different clinics are available. But the service is expensive and the selection of frames is limited. Bring an extra pair of prescription glasses. Plastic lenses are not recommended due to the blowing sand that will scratch them. If you wear contact lenses make sure to bring plenty of extra lenses and cleaning supplies. Contact lenses and supplies are not available locally.

Pharmacies: Supplies of standard medications and common drugs are available, although these medications are usually French or European brands. Familiar American medications are not stocked. The Health Unit pharmacy does not dispense over-the-counter supplies or medications for chronic conditions or general first aid supplies. Bring a generous supply of routine medications and arrange to get refills of prescription medicine sent from a U.S. pharmacy or other sources.

Community Health Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:24 AM

While Ouagadougou makes a strong effort at maintaining public sanitation and cleanliness standards, local health and sanitation measures do not meet American standards. Local water supplies are considered unsafe. Water must be filtered and boiled for drinking and cooking. Water distillers are provided in each residence. Fruits and vegetables must be cleaned and soaked in an iodine or chlorine bleach solution before eating, cooking or freezing.

Insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and other insects are prominent in Ouagadougou, especially during the rainy season. Bring a large supply of mosquito repellent for both topical use and for living areas. Good household insecticides cost more than similar products in the U.S. and are strongly scented. Should you need to purchase insecticides on the local market, it is a good idea to check with GSO for their recommendations.

Local bottled beverages and processed foods are generally satisfactory. Expect to purchase imported UHT long life milk as fresh milk is unsafe unless you pasteurize it. Meat purchased in local stores and butcher shops is considered safe, but should be cooked thoroughly. Many local food items are often scooped from communal containers into used cans for sale, with the exception of local products sold at supermarkets that cater to the expatriate community. However, if well cooked, these items are generally considered safe.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:02 AM

General: Disease prevention and treatment practices in Burkina are not fully developed. Among endemic diseases in Burkina Faso, malaria is one of the most serious. It affects almost everyone and is a major cause of infant mortality. Also, endemic are shistosomiasis (bilharzia), which causes liver and intestinal damage, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), onchocerciosis (river blindness), tuberculosis, and rabies. Other diseases present in Burkina are meningitis, yellow fever, and cholera. Intestinal diseases such as amoebas and bacterial dysentery are also common.

While in Ouagadougou, the effects of most diseases and illnesses can be minimized by following preventive practices, maintaining immunization and booster shots, and using Embassy medical services. Illnesses Americans suffer here are usually those found to be common throughout the world. Diarrhea and minor intestinal problems, colds and respiratory infections, and skin irritation periodically spread through the community. It takes time to adjust physically to the semi-tropical heat. Therefore, more rest, more fluids, and more salt intake is essential. Lightweight cotton clothing, hats, protective glasses, sunscreen, and moderate exercise will help in the adjustment.

While in Ouagadougou, the effects of most diseases and illnesses can be minimized by following preventive practices, maintaining immunization and booster shots, and using Embassy medical services. Illnesses Americans suffer here are usually those found to be common throughout the world. Diarrhea and minor intestinal problems, colds and respiratory infections, and skin irritation periodically spread through the community. It takes time to adjust physically to the semi-tropical heat. Therefore, more rest, more fluids, and more salt intake is essential. Lightweight cotton clothing, hats, protective glasses, sunscreen, and moderate exercise will help in the adjustment.

Before leaving for post, you should receive necessary immunizations, start malaria suppressants, and complete dental work. American personnel are immunized against typhoid, meningitis, yellow fever, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, infectious hepatitis and rabies. More than one injection is required for several of the immunizations, and a specified time must lapse between them. Malaria is endemic to Burkina Faso: a prophylaxis should be taken for at least one week prior to arrival; during the entire stay in country; and for four weeks following departure. The medication recommended for all mission personnel and family members in Burkina Faso is weekly doses of mefloquine, although other options are available for those who cannot take mefloquine. The Health Unit can advise you on these options. Additional Malaria precautions include keeping your house well screened and well-sprayed, using mosquito netting (available from GSO on request) around beds, using insect repellent, and wearing appropriate clothing.

Hepatitis, typhoid, and gastrointestinal disorders are usually related to contaminated foods and water. While different members of the Embassy community have different thresholds for what they will eat and drink in country, all personnel and family members are encouraged to exercise common sense when it comes to food and drinks. At home, most Embassy families use distilled (filtered) water for drinking, making ice, and brushing teeth. In addition, the Health Unit recommends soaking fruits and vegetables for 30 minutes in an iodine or chlorine bleach solution before eating, as well as cooking meat thoroughly. When dining out, the Embassy community generally avoids unbottled water and ice cubes in local restaurants, although bottled water, bottled sodas, hot coffee, and tea should be safe. Ouagadougou has a wide range of restaurants that cater to expatriates; at most of these, members of the Embassy community are comfortable eating salads and other uncooked foods. As a general rule, however, if you are unfamiliar with the restaurant, you may want to avoid uncooked foods.

The Embassy community is encouraged to exercise other common sense precautions as well. Wear hats, limit exposure to the sun, avoid going barefoot whenever possible (to avoid parasites), and use moderation when exercising to avoid sunburn and heat stroke. Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration, especially in the dry season. Since local water is not sufficiently fluoridated, children (up to age 9) should receive supplemental fluoride drops or tablets. These items can be obtained from the Health Unit. The Health Unit provides a helpful handbook containing this and other health-related information upon arrival at post.

For domestic help, employers should educate household help in the areas of food preparation, cleanliness, and personal hygiene standards. Household help should receive annual medical examinations in addition to an initial medical examination before employment. Although unable to treat household help, the Health Unit can advise you on this process. See also the section on “Domestic Help” in “Supplies and Services” below.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:24 AM

Ouagadougou offers limited, mostly part-time, employment opportunities for spouses or dependents. Although spouses and dependants with strong French are welcome to explore employment opportunities with international organizations or local employers, most spouses who work in Ouagadougou are employed by the Embassy or teach at the International School of Ouagadougou (ISO), as there are limited employment opportunities for non-French speakers. Depending on availability of funds, the Embassy often has PIT (part-time, intermittent, and temporary) positions. Present positions include the Community Liaison Officer and the Administrative Assistant for the Management Officer and the GSO. Position vacancies are posted and announced in the Ouaga Kibe (the post’s publication). Other short-term personal service contracts are developed based on Mission needs.

Outside the Embassy, spouses, especially those trained as teachers, can sometimes find employment at the International School of Ouagadougou or as a part-time instructor at the American Language Center or at another one of the English language programs in town. For those interested in teaching English, taking a course in teaching English as a Second-Language at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center before departing the U.S., is good preparation. Tutoring is also a possibility. In addition, the American Employee Association has employed qualified Americans as a part-time manager for the Embassy’s Recreation Center.

Job opportunities for children of employees are available through the Embassy Summer Employment Program. Dependent children aged 16 to 24 may participate. Dependents who are interested in employment are encouraged to write to the Embassy Personnel Office or the CLO for information on available openings. It is helpful if you include a resume. Volunteer opportunities are available for those who speak French.

The United States and Burkina Faso have a de facto arrangement for work permits. As such, any eligible family member who finds employment locally will need to obtain permission from the Foreign Ministry. The administrative office will assist with this process.

American Embassy - Ouagadougou

Post City Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:24 AM

Ouagadougou (pronounced WHA-GAH-DOO-GOO), Burkina Faso’s capital and largest city, has a population of about 1 million with about 3,500 expatriates. Ouagadougou is a truly African city, although an increasingly modern one. The city is compact and its streets have been laid out on a relatively logical plan. Most members of the diplomatic community find Ouagadougou to be one of the cleanest and most secure cities in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Ouagadougou’s business district is centered on the Grand Marche, a two-story, concrete structure that houses the central market where one can find everything from food and household sundries to clothing and a wide range of tourist goods. (NOTE: A major fire in the spring of 2003 has forced the closure of the Grand Marche; its future reopening date remains uncertain.) Nearby are bookstores, pharmacies, photography shops, gold shops, European-style grocery stores, smaller outdoor markets, and street vendors. The Embassy is located on the edge of the business district.

Most residential areas are located on the periphery of the downtown area; the expatriate community tends to be clustered in three or four of these neighborhoods all located within 10-15 minutes drive of the downtown area. Despite its climate, Ouagadougou is a relatively green city — gardens and plant nurseries surround all three of the reservoirs (“barrage” in French) located on the edge of town. In addition, Ouagadougou boasts a large urban park complete with several miles of walking trails, a botanical park, and an amusement park for children.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:16 AM

The U.S. established its Embassy in Ouagadougou in 1961. Today, the Embassy is one of the smaller missions operated by the Department of State. In addition to State Department employees, the official American presence in Burkina includes the Peace Corps and Treasury Department. No other U.S. government agencies are currently present in Burkina.

The Embassy occupies several single-story buildings in Koulouba, a quiet section of the city, along Avenue Raoul Follereau and Avenue John F. Kennedy. Office hours are Monday to Thursday: 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM and from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Friday. Phone numbers are (226) 50-30–67–23 for normal duty hours and 50-31–26–60 or 50-31–27–07 for after duty hours. Local nationals provide security; the Embassy does not have a Marine detachment.

The Public Affairs Section maintains the American Cultural Center and the Information Resource Center. In addition, the Embassy supports the American Language Center that is located about 5 miles from the embassy, within the downtown area of Ouagadougou. The Public Affairs program includes educational, professional, and cultural exchanges, library and information services, film and VTR presentations, and cultural programs such as lectures and concerts.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:05 AM

To the extent possible, incoming employees are assigned to permanent quarters immediately upon arrival. In rare instances, employees may be assigned to another government-leased temporary house. Temporary duty personnel generally stay at the Hotel Silmande, although there are several other options.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:05 AM

Embassy quarters are relatively simple but comfortable. The houses are generally located in two clusters — one group about a ten minute walk from the Embassy and the other about ten minutes by car in the neighborhood around the International School of Ouagadougou. Nearly all of the houses are single story and most have terraces and good-sized yards and gardens. A typical house has a combination living room/dining area, kitchen, two to three bedrooms and bathrooms, a climate-controlled storage area for consumables, and a laundry area, often located separately from the house. All State Department houses have swimming pools.

The Ambassador’s residence is located one block from the Embassy. It is a four-bedroom two-story structure with a large terrace area on the second level. The representational area consists of three interconnecting rooms. The garden area is shady and well landscaped and contains a large swimming pool. The Deputy Chief of Mission’s residence is located about a five-minute drive from the Embassy.

Furnishings Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:06 AM

All Embassy housing includes American-style furniture and major appliances, typically including the following:

Living Room: sofa, loveseat, chairs, coffee table, end tables, lamps, bookshelf, area carpet, desk, and desk chair, T.V. cabinet;

Dining Room: dining table, 8–10 chairs, china cabinet, and buffet;

Bedrooms: queen-size in master and twin beds in others; dresser, chest of drawers, nightstands, lamps, and mirror;

Terrace: tables with umbrellas, chairs, and chaise lounges;

Appliances: refrigerators (2), upright freezer, stove, washing machine, dryer, vacuum cleaner, humidifier(s), and air conditioners for each living area and occupied bedroom;

Miscellaneous: water distiller, generator, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, transformers (3), portable communications radio, outdoor trash can, ladder, lawnmower, garden hose, garden tools, pool cleaning equipment, and drapes.

Cribs: The Embassy has one crib available for use. Families with small children are advised to ship their own cribs, highchairs, and playpens whenever possible. Families with infants are authorized a layette shipment to ensure adequate supplies for infant

The post does not provide the following: clothes hangers, wastebaskets, lightweight cotton blankets, bathroom rugs, shower curtains and hooks, bathroom accessories, scatter rugs, pictures and decorative items, bedspreads, or bed covers.

The following small 220v appliances are useful in Ouagadougou: iron, electric mixer, blender, hair dryer, curling iron, toaster, non-electric clocks, and additional transformers. A high quality juicer and ice cream maker are nice extras when you’re searching for ways to beat the heat. A bread maker can bring variety to your diet. There are a limited variety of breads available.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:06 AM

Electrical current in Ouagadougou is 220v, 50-cycle, AC. Municipal power is dependable most of the year, but voltage fluctuations and short-term power outages are still common, especially in the dry season. Bring voltage regulators and surge protectors for sensitive electronic equipment, such as VCR’s and computers. Circuit breakers may trip if several appliances are used simultaneously.

Transformers are needed to operate 110v American appliances. Three transformers are provided, but additional transformers need to be shipped from the U.S. If possible, convert record players and tape recorders to 50-cycle before leaving for post, as 110v 60-cycle appliances may overheat, even with a transformer. The Overseas Briefing Center can provide more information and a list of suppliers for equipment and servicing. Don’t forget to get plug adapters to ensure your 220v appliances will fit in the round outlets found in Burkina.

Food Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:17 AM

Good food is readily available in Ouagadougou. Open-air markets, grocery stores, neighborhood “boutiques”, and street vendors all offer fresh produce and a variety of packaged goods. Stores and “boutiques” generally have fixed prices, but market and street vendors bargain. Items may also be sold door to door. Many stores are open between 8:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and again from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Some shops stay open until 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.

Local vegetables and fruits are inexpensive and usually of good quality, although many are seasonal in variety and availability. Potatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, celery, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, squash, radishes, green peppers, hot peppers, green onions, eggplant, plantain, okra, peanuts, and cabbage are generally available year-round, as are bananas, limes, mangoes, and papayas. Other items, including avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnips, peas, sweet potatoes, coconuts, pineapples, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, and apples are seasonal. It is possible to find many other imported fruits and vegetables (including mushrooms, artichokes, lemons, peaches) at the local supermarkets (although at substantially higher prices). Fresh herbs and spices, including basil, bay leaf, cilantro, dill, ginger, lemon grass (citronella), and many local herbs and spices, are available at local vegetable markets. Other imported spices are available in grocery stores at higher prices.

All of the European-style grocery stores and butcher shops that cater to expatriates carry a plentiful supply of beef, poultry, veal, lamb, and pork. Prices range from $3 to $7 per kilo, and most of the cuts tend to be European-style. As a general rule, the meat tends to be lean and tough, so meat tenderizers and marinades are quite helpful. Bacon, ham, sausages, pates, and luncheon meats are also available. You can find imported poultry of good quality at local supermarkets at very high prices. Eggs are in good supply for most of the year, although both eggs (and the chickens that lay them) become more scarce during the peak of the dry season in April and May. Some fresh fish is sold here (Capitaine is especially good) but most seafood, including shrimp, is frozen and imported. Costs are about $8 to $14 a pound.

Fresh milk is not marketed locally, but UHT long-life milk is available in skim, demi-crème (similar to 2% milk) and whole. Powdered whole milk is also available. Local and imported yogurt, salted and unsalted imported butter, margarine, crème fraîche (similar to sour cream), and long-life cream are available. Cheeses are European types (Roquefort, Camembert, Brie, Gruyere, Gouda, Edam, and Parmesan); American cheeses are not available. Local dairies also produce excellent goat cheese. Cottage cheese is rarely available.

In general, the grocery stores catering to expatriates offer a large variety of packaged goods and canned items. Although most of these items are European brands and the price tends to be higher than comparable goods in the U.S., it is usually possible to find a close substitute for many of the food items you might crave. Although baby food and supplies are available, families with young children generally ship these items from the U.S., as local prices tend to be higher and the brands are unfamiliar. In addition, many families rely on online grocers or their consumables shipment for baking supplies (whole-wheat flour, oatmeal and specialty grains, confectioner’s sugar and brown sugar, etc.), as local supplies tend to be limited and lower quality than U.S. equivalents.

Popular soft drinks (Coke, Sprite, Fanta), soda water, tonic, and beer are sold at local beverage stores. These products are bottled locally, reasonably priced, of good quality, and are generally in good supply. Diet sodas are occasionally available at the supermarket, although they tend to cost about $1 a can. Wine and liquor are available at grocery stores as well as at specialty stores; price and variety tend to be reasonably good, though generally familiar U.S. brands are not available.

Local bakeries carry French-style bread, pastries, and “pain de mie,” a loaf-style bread similar to, but heavier than, American bread. Sweetbread dough may be purchased from a local bakery for rolls or coffeecake baking. Vacuum-packed dry yeast is sold in grocery stores and is quite reliable, while fresh yeast is available at bakeries. Baking powder, vanilla extract, brown sugar, molasses, and confectioner’s sugar are only occasionally available in stores.

Pet products, including pet food, kitty litter, flea collars, worm medicines, shampoos, and toys should be brought to post as they tend to be expensive and/or less readily available here.

Employees posted to Ouagadougou have a consumable allowance intended to offset difficulties caused by shortage, expense, or unavailability of items at post. With high prices and irregular supplies here, the consumable allowance should be used to maximum weight and maximum benefit. Many employees ship only part of the allowance before arrival and the rest later when they know local availability and prices. Check favorite recipes for special ingredient needs, and request catalogs from mail-order grocery outlets for ideas for consumable shipments. Catalogs from international firms are available at post for additional ordering up to allowance limits.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:09 AM

Given the climate, the fashion here is business-casual. Washable cotton and cotton-blend fabrics are preferable to synthetics. Be sure to bring an adequate supply of sturdy shoes — shoes tend to deteriorate in the rough conditions. Sandals are practical year-round.

There is a limited, and expensive, selection of ready-to-wear clothing and shoes available in the local economy. As a result, most families order clothes and shoes from catalogs (traditional and internet). Some Americans have had great success with local tailors reproducing clothes by looking at pictures; local tailoring rates are reasonable and the quality is good. A good selection of local (including colorful batiks) and imported fabrics is available. Patterns are not available, however, and the supply of sewing notions — thread, buttons, zippers, and trims — is limited, so bring them.

Lightweight jackets or sweaters are needed occasionally during cool weather; heavier garments are only needed for trips to colder climates. Used or outgrown clothing is very much in demand, and greatly appreciated by household staff. If your weight allowance permits, consider shipping your “old” clothes (even winter clothes).

Bring sports attire, lightweight hats for sun protection, and several bathing suits, as chlorinated water wears them out quickly.

Men Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:09 AM

Business dress is informal and more casual than in the U.S. Short-sleeved button-up shirts worn without a tie, sport shirts, and casual slacks are generally acceptable. Dress at informal evening functions is casual: sport shirts, casual slacks. For official receptions and cocktail parties, men wear a suit, sport coat and tie or long sleeve button-up shirt and tie. A few formal affairs may require suits or tuxedos, although these tend to be very rare. Shorts are generally worn for sports activities only.

Women Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:09 AM

Business dress is informal and more casual than in the U.S. Women wear summer weight suits, dresses, skirts, slacks and blouses. Most women wear skirts or dresses knee length or longer. Nylon stockings are very rarely worn given the climate. Open-toed shoes are considered appropriate for the office. Dress at informal evening functions is generally casual: summer dresses, skirts, pants, etc. For official receptions and cocktail parties “cocktail” dresses are appropriate. A few formal affairs may require cocktail or evening dresses, although these tend to be very rare. Shorts are worn for sports activities only.

Children Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:10 AM

For children, bring a good selection of sturdy summer clothes, including plenty of hats and bathing suits. School dress is informal and shorts are allowed. During the cool season, you will want lightweight jackets/sweaters. In addition, a small selection of winter wear is useful for travel to cooler climates. Bring several different sizes of clothing and shoes for children, as local clothes and shoes are generally not up to U.S. standards. Some families have had success using local tailors and seamstresses to fashion certain items of clothing. For infants and toddlers, ship disposal diapers and wipes for your infants and toddlers as these are expensive locally. Also, bring baby towels, washcloths, crib sheets, and cotton baby blankets.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:11 AM

Although the price may be higher and/or the quality lower, you can find most household items you might need in Ouagadougou. While local supplies will cover almost any emergency, Mission personnel should ship their favorite American consumer goods to post, including a supply of toiletries (including anti-bacterial soaps and hand cleansers and disposable wipes), cosmetics, hair products, sunscreen, insect repellant, first aid supplies, and a full range of cleaning products (including laundry and dishwashing detergents, sponges and scrub pads, and household cleansers).

To help make your new residence your home, remember to bring your favorite decorative and household items. Bring your own linens, shower curtains (and hooks), bath mats, wastebaskets, shelf paper, hangers, vases, and wall hangings. You’ll want a small toolkit, complete with hammer; screwdrivers; pliers; drill; assorted drill bits (include masonry bits); masonry nails, picture hooks, and other supplies for hanging pictures (stick-on hooks or putty tends to dry out rapidly and are not recommended); masking, duct, and electrical tape; super glue, and the like. Don’t forget holiday decorations and supplies. For those who celebrate Christmas, it is possible to find live Christmas trees here, although they tend to have a “Charlie Brown” look; consider shipping an artificial tree. Note: For holidays occurring within the first three months of your arrival at post, it is a good idea to ship any needed holiday supplies with your UAB.

Bring all your usual cooking and baking equipment and kitchen utensils, as well as place settings and serving dishes. In addition, you may want to bring an oven thermometer, a meat thermometer, kitchen scale (with both metric and English measurements), knife sharpener, rubber sink stoppers, and a kitchen timer. Also bring food storage items and accessories — airtight containers, resealable storage bags, aluminum foil, waxed paper, and plastic wrap. A large supply of kitchen towels and dishcloths is important, as they wear out quickly; paper towels are quite useful as well. Disposable plates, cups, and napkins make informal entertaining much easier. Cookbooks, especially those with colored pictures are useful for kitchen help. Don’t forget your barbecue grill and related equipment — if you bring an American propane grill it will require a bit of ingenuity to fit the European-style propane tanks, but Mission members do use (and very much enjoy) their propane grills here. With the heat, you will also want to bring plenty of beverage pitchers and containers, ice cube trays and ice buckets, and portable cooler(s).

Mission members have the standard complement of audio and video equipment (increasingly including both MP3 players and DVDs) that one would use in the U.S. A multi-system TV or VCR/DVD is necessary for watching local television. A short-wave radio for international news programs might be a nice addition to your home entertainment system. The American Recreation Center runs a VHS video club (using American NTSC format), and Mission members regularly swap both videos and DVDs. For photography, plan ahead and bring extra film, specialized batteries, and film mailers (to ship film back to the U.S.). Many Americans have used local film developers with mixed results. Don’t forget to ship cleaning supplies for your electronic equipment (CD, VCR, and DVD cleaning kits), as the dust will find its way into your equipment. A variety of extra batteries will come in handy.

Although European-style office products are available, most Mission personnel ship their own home office supplies. Envelopes of various sizes, U.S. postage stamps, computer paper and supplies (disks, CD-ROMs, ink cartridges), notepads, scotch tape, paper clips, a stapler and a hole punch are quite useful. In addition, you may want to include both a small filing cabinet and a personal lockbox/safe.

For children, you will want to bring their favorite games and toys for both inside and outside (don’t forget pool toys), as well as plenty of birthday and holiday gifts both for your own children and their friends. If you intend to give your child a large gift (trikes/bikes, playhouses, etc.) you should ship them — you won’t be able to order online and ship via pouch). Bring the standard supplies for school (including insulated lunchboxes/bags and thermoses/water bottles) and arts & crafts materials. Bring birthday party supplies — invitations, cake decorations, candles, balloons, favors, gift-wrap, etc.

Tennis, softball, golf, basketball, and soccer are all popular options here — if you play, bring your favorite gear. Lawn games, such as badminton, volleyball, and croquet and pool toys are great to have as well. For outdoor enthusiasts, consider bringing binoculars for bird/animal viewing, and camping and hiking gear. Although many Embassy families have tents, most have discovered that the majority of tourist destinations in and around Burkina have small hotels or ”campements” equipped with bungalows — a lightweight sleeping bag and perhaps a sleeping pad should be more than sufficient for all but the most diehard campers. Bikes (both road and mountain) can be useful. Several Embassy employees bike to/from work at least occasionally, and there are several active cycling groups for bicycling enthusiasts. Bring equipment and supplies for your hobbies (musical instruments, sewing patterns, small gardening tools, etc.) along with a list of Internet and mail order sources.

Pool chemicals and supplies are available in Ouagadougou, although you may choose (if your packer permits) to ship chlorine tablets in your HHE. A floating chlorine dispenser that can hold granulated chlorine makes pool maintenance easier (local chlorine tends to be granulated, so the standard chlorine floats sold in the U.S. for tablet chlorine may not work). Bring pool toys and floats. For those who have to know just how hot it is, a dual Celsius/Fahrenheit outdoor thermometer, as well as a pool thermometer, may come in handy. A pool chemical test kit is provided by the Embassy.

Basic Services Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:12 AM

Many tailors in Ouagadougou will make simple clothing and do piecework, such as buttonholes, slipcovers, and curtains. Tailors make both western and African styles for women and safari-type suits, pants, and shirts for men. Work is reasonably priced, and quality is usually good.

Simple shoe, leather, purse, and watchband repairs can be done locally. Most laundry is done at home, since government-furnished housing has a washer and dryer. Dry-cleaning is available, but the results may not be up to U.S. standards. Ouagadougou has barbershops and beauty shops where the service and quality of work are good. Ouagadougou has radio and TV repair shops, but parts for U.S. equipment are not common. Repair service for other types of U.S.-manufactured equipment, machines, and appliances is generally not available.

A variety of nicely made batik, tie-dye, hand-woven and embroidered tablecloths, napkins, and placemats can be found in Ouagadougou.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:18 AM

Most families hire household employees, such as gardeners, cooks, housekeepers, and nannies. Salaries for domestic help range from 40,000 to 80,000 FCFA ($75–$150) a month, depending on experience and English language skills. Many of the staff employed by the Embassy community have previous experience working for Americans. Even so, English-speaking staff are rare, and even fluency and literacy in French varies dramatically.

The workweek is a maximum of 6 days a week and up to 10 hours a day. Household workers rarely live in, but they are usually more than willing to work evenings and weekends as required. They usually receive extra pay for these occasions.

Burkina has established a work code for household help that stipulates working hours, overtime pay requirements, probationary periods, vacation and sick leave policies, meal and uniform policies, salary increases, and regulations for termination of employees. A bonus of one month’s pay is expected at Christmas, although employers are not obliged to give other holiday bonuses. Employees are entitled to a month’s vacation each year, although extra pay may be given in lieu of vacation. In addition, the employer is required by law to make social security payments that amount to 21.5% of salary (5.5% from employee, 16% from employer). Most officers just go ahead with paying their employee’s contribution. The Embassy assists in preparing the paperwork for these quarterly payments.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:12 AM

Many religious faiths are represented in Burkina Faso and freedom of religion is honored in law and practice. Ouagadougou has Assembly of God, Baptist, Catholic, and Seventh-day Adventist churches/missions that offer services in French. The International Church of Ouagadougou is an interdenominational Protestant congregation with Sunday services in English, including Sunday School. Moslem, Bahai, Jehovah’s Witnesses communities hold services in Ouagadougou as well.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:22 AM Pre-School: There is a quality English-language preschool program for children ages three and older, at the International School of Ouagadougou (contact information is below). In addition, there is a French-run preschool, Les Lutins, located in the same neighborhood as many of the Embassy residences and used by several embassy families, that offers a French-language program for children ages two and older. Les Lutins is run by Marie-Cecile Trouillet who can be reached at (226) 50-36-14-61; tuition runs ~$225 per quarter.

Schools: The International School of Ouagadougou (ISO), originally created by the U./S Embassy in 1976, was founded to provide a quality education based on an American curriculum. Now the ISO is a private, nonprofit, fully accredited K through 12 institution that receives some financial support from the Department of State. Course-work is based on a standard U.S. curriculum and testing program. In addition to a core curriculum, classes are given in French, art, music, physical education, and computer science. With an average student-teacher ratio of about 15 to 1, students receive individual attention. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are available for students not fluent in English.

A new school campus, located in a pleasant residential area, was completed in 1992. The campus consists of 7 separate buildings, which house 9 air-conditioned classrooms, a science lab, a computer lab, an audio-video room, a well-stocked library, a nurse’s room, a reception area, business office, and director’s office. The campus offers playing fields for physical education classes and outdoor activities, as well as a swimming pool, tennis court, basketball/ volleyball court, and squash court.

School is in session Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Art, physical education, and music instruction, for grades 3–8, is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. The academic year, with a total of 180 days, operates on a quarter system and runs from the beginning of September to mid-June.

Many club-sponsored and school-sponsored activities are carried out during the school year. These include dance, basketball, swimming, softball, chess, stamp collecting, art, handicrafts, computer club, exchange programs, game-ranch visits, and academic competitions. Direct questions on the International School to the CLO coordinator or to the school:

Mr. Patrick Meyer, Director International School of Ouagadougou DOS/Administrative Officer 2440 Ouagadougou Place Washington, DC 20521–2440 Tel: (226) 50-36–31-34 Fax: (226) 50–36–22-28

e-mail: Web:

There is a French-language school, St. Exupery, for children of pre-kindergarten age through high school (lycee). Secondary studies are preparatory to the French baccalaureate degree. Entry is based on space available, which is especially in demand on the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten levels. The school year starts in mid-September and ends in mid-June. All children must register before July. When applying for entry, students should bring samples of previous work in addition to report cards, especially in math, to indicate grade level.

Away From Post Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:13 AM

Because of the limited English language secondary school program in Burkina Faso, the Department of State provides an educational allowance for high school age children to attend boarding school. Several publications are available to help in the selection of schools away from post, including The Educational Register, a guide to independent schools and summer programs (available free at and Schools Abroad of Interest to Americans, (available at bookstores). These publications and other information are available in the Office of Overseas Schools in the Department of State or in the post CLO office. Other questions about education may be addressed to the Educational Counselor of M/FLO at the Department of State.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:13 AM

No formal, English-language training or educational facilities for handicapped children exists in Ouagadougou, although a credentialed special education teacher may sometimes be present. Parents of learning-disabled, blind, or deaf children should check the current situation when considering this post.

Recreation and Social Life Last Updated: 7/31/2003 10:52 AM

Sports Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:14 AM

Americans in Ouagadougou spend a lot of time outdoors — swimming, playing tennis, jogging or walking, and enjoying other outdoor sports and activities. Swimming is a year-round pastime and a good way to take advantage of Ouagadougou’s warm temperatures and sunshine. All Embassy houses have swimming pools.

Jogging and walking are popular. The Urban Park of Ouagadougou, a protected forest since the 1930’s, is within walking distance for about half of the Embassy residences (and a 10-minute drive for the others). It features shaded trails for running, cycling, bird watching or just sitting on a bench and watching the world pass by. Ouaga has an active chapter of Hash House Harriers who meet twice a month (on Sunday afternoons) to explore the surrounding countryside. The “Hash” is open to the entire family (both walkers and runners), definitely non-competitive, and ends with a cold drink and sometimes a get-together.

The American Recreation Center (The Rec Center), administered by the AEA (American Employees Association), is located about 50 yards from the Embassy. The Rec Center has a large swimming pool, a tennis/basketball court, a playground, and a gym. In addition, The Rec Center has a snack bar that offers American dishes. A video club, lending library, lounge area (with TV, VCR, and pool table), and a bar are also provided. First-run movies are shown weekly. The Rec Center provides a pleasant social and recreational environment for Americans to meet. Special events, such as holiday parties, an annual tennis tournament, and a weekly basketball game, are also held at The Rec Center. Annual membership fees are $162 per single, $252 per couple, and $312 per family. Guests are welcome to use the center for a daily fee. For more information, feel free to contact the Rec Center at

ISO also has an athletics center with a swimming pool, two tennis courts, a squash court, and a snack bar. Membership is open to all families with children at ISO and others from the community. Area hotels also offer swimming pools and tennis courts.

Burkina’s biggest spectator sport is soccer, although basketball is also popular. Softball is popular among the American community; pick-up games occur most Saturdays at the International School. Some equipment is provided or you can bring your own. Ouagadougou’s softball teams — the Sahel’s Angels and the Burkina Bats — sometimes participate in various West African softball tournaments. Ouagadougou’s own Softball Fanatics Weekend Tournament (SOFANWET) is held Memorial Day weekend. Tennis players can join a number of different clubs around the city, including The Rec Center, the International School of Ouagadougou, the Tennis Club of Ouagadougou, or several hotel facilities. Facilities, fees, the quality of instruction, and court availability vary; tennis players should visit the different facilities on arrival in Ouaga and talk to current members to determine the best facility for them.

An 18-hole laterite (dirt) golf course is located about 15 minutes outside of Ouagadougou. The golf club has a clubhouse and bar and sponsors social events, as well as frequent competitions. There is a very good pro from Cote d’Ivoire who gives inexpensive lessons. Bring clubs, a cart, a good supply of balls, and two or three chipping mats (used at the laterite fairways).

There are several riding stables in Ouagadougou, including Club de L’Etrier, Oasis Du Cheval, and Cheval Mandinque that offer lessons as well as trail rides in the surrounding countryside. Club de L’Etrier, is located a bit closer to most residences, but it tends to be more expensive and does not offer English-language instruction.

You can take flying lessons with a FAA Certified Flight and Ground Instructor who is approved by the Minister of Transport. You can charter a private plane for air ambulance, express mail delivery, or tourism purposes. If you already hold a pilot license, it is recommended that you take a local checkout flight. The office of AERO Transport Express is located in the hanger behind the AERO Club and the rates are very reasonable. Instructions are available in English or French. The AERO Club has two or three small planes at its disposal for pilots who want to rent a plane.

Hunting is permitted in special reserves and during certain seasons. License fees depend upon size of game. Smaller game may cost $400 and up. If you intend to ship a firearm to post, advance approval is required from the Ambassador. Contact the Administrative Officer for details.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:14 AM

There are plentiful opportunities for both day trips and longer excursions from Ouagadougou. Several private travel agencies provide travel brochures, guided tours, and rental of chauffeur-driven, four-wheel-drive vehicles. The best time to see the country is during the cool, dry season from November to February. Given road and weather conditions, travel is sometimes difficult in Burkina, but it is usually interesting.

Near Ouagadougou, are the towns of Bassole and Sabou, where one can visit the sacred crocodiles for a small fee. Kaya, a market town known especially for its leatherwork and indigo cloth, is located only 90 kilometers from Ouagadougou. A few kilometers beyond Kaya is Dodale, where one can see indigo cloth being made.

Several interesting places are close enough to Ouagadougou for weekend trips. For a more desert-like atmosphere, those with four-wheel-drive can take a 3-hour drive north past Kaya to Bani and Dori, home to large scenic mosques. Several of the towns past Dori, including Gorom-Gorom and Markoye, have weekday markets that attract tribes from around the Sahel. Whole families dressed in distinctive robes and jewelry make their way to these markets on camel, donkey, horse, and by foot (and brush taxi). Although the trip north can be rough, adventurous travelers will enjoy the markets and the opportunity to experience life on the edge of the Sahara.

Southwest of Ouagadougou is Bobo-Dioulasso (Bobo), Burkina Faso’s second largest city. It is a 5-hour drive on good roads and has a choice of hotels and restaurants. Bobo is known for its music and crafts, and nearby towns, such as Boni, are famous for wooden masks. During the March–June period, several villages have festivals that include masked dancers. Another hour past Bobo is Banfora, which has an excellent hotel with big pool and a wealth of interesting natural wonders, including a waterfall and hippo lake. Gaoua, capital of the Lobi people, in the southwestern part of Burkina, is best left for a 3-day weekend. A side trip to ancient ruins is possible from there, as are tours of some surrounding villages, known for culture and architecture.

During the dry season (late November to March), wildlife safaris to Burkina’s two biggest game parks, Nazinga and Arly, are popular weekend trips. Both parks offer camping and lodging facilities (although Arly’s are a bit more elaborate and more expensive than Nazinga’s). The wildlife varies somewhat between the two parks, but visitors will almost certainly see elephants, crocodiles, baboons, wart hogs, and antelope. Visitors to Arly may also see lions, hippos, and wild boar. Nazinga is located about 3½ hours south of Ouaga while Arly is 6 to 8 hours east. Both Niger and Benin also have wildlife parks worth visiting.

U.S. personnel are encouraged to visit as much of nearby Africa as possible to gain the most out of their tour in Burkina Faso. Many people travel to Mali from Burkina Faso to visit Dogon country; Mopti, an important fishing port at the juncture of the Niger and Bani Rivers; and Tombouctou (Timbuktu). Dogon country is home to the animist Dogon people, known for their distinct culture and cliff dwellings in and along the Bandiagara cliffs. Mopti is famous for its large mosque and lively market. Special charter flights can be arranged to the fabled Tombouctou. The beaches of Ghana and Benin are approximately a 1½ day drive by car, and Niamey, the capital of Niger, is approximately a 1-day drive as well.

You can fly from Ouagadougou to most major West African cities. The designated R&R point is London or the nearest port of entry into the U.S. Also, several direct weekly flights to Paris are available from Ouagadougou.

Entertainment Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:15 AM

Two highlights of Ouaga’s social scene are Le Salon International de L’Artisanat de Ouagadougou (SIAO) and The Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO). SIAO is a biennial craft show promoting African artisans. The October 2002 edition of SIAO highlighted the work of nearly 200 Burkinabe artisans in addition to artisans from 30 other African countries.

The Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) is a weeklong film festival held during the last week of February in odd-numbered years. FESPACO is the largest recurring cultural event in Africa and is among the most important festivals in the world. FESPACO is designed to assist in the dissemination of African cinema, promote discussions among filmmakers, and further the development of African cinema as a means of expression, education, and awareness. Viewing for the festival is open to the public, and tickets for each film are reasonably priced.

In Burkina Faso, theater has been traditionally used as a means of informing, educating, and motivating village populations; Ouaga hosts fairly regular theater performances by a variety of local groups. There are a number of air-conditioned theaters in Ouagadougou, which show French or foreign films, dubbed, or subtitled in French.

The Centre culturel français Georges Méliès (French Cultural Center) has activities, such as theatrical presentations (traditional and modern), musical performances, and expositions, as well as a good French-language library for adults and children. Membership is required for library access.

Despite its small size, Ouaga supports a surprising array of good restaurants that cater to expatriates, offering good-quality and reasonably priced French, Italian, African, Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Chinese dishes. There are also several local bakeries that offer sandwiches for dining in or take-out. Many restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. Pizza, pasta, and popular African dishes are well prepared at several local restaurants and available for carry out as well. Reservations are rarely required.

Social Activities Last Updated: 12/2/2003 3:17 PM

Social activities within the American community in Ouagadougou are relaxed and informal. Cocktail parties, buffets, informal dinners, and barbecues are popular ways to entertain. Although the official Embassy community is about 25 people, the larger American community in Burkina Faso is made up of almost 400 people. Outside the American community, there are about 20 resident diplomatic missions, plus development personnel of France, The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Denmark, and representatives of several other countries, along with Burkinabe, make up the social community. Burkinabe genuinely enjoy showing foreigners their traditions and cities and arranging common activities. International clubs, such as Rotary and the Lions Club are represented. There are active Diplomatic Women and Young Diplomats Clubs.

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:15 AM

Social activities within the American community in Ouagadougou are relaxed and informal. Cocktail parties, buffets, informal dinners, and barbecues are popular ways to entertain. Although the official Embassy community is about 30 people, the larger American community in Burkina Faso is made up of almost 400 people.

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:15 AM

Outside the American community, there are about 20 resident diplomatic missions, plus development personnel of France, The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Denmark, and representatives of several other countries. For those willing to speak French, there are numerous opportunities to meet and socialize with the other members of the diplomatic community and Burkinabe in general. Burkinabe genuinely enjoy showing foreigners their traditions and arranging outside activities.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:16 AM

The diplomatic community in Ouagadougou is small. Senior officers are expected to attend several monthly affairs, such as Burkina Government-sponsored opening ceremonies, cultural events, events related to official visits, and celebrations of national days of the various countries represented in Burkina Faso. Large functions are usually held outdoors, as gardens at most residences are large enough to accommodate groups ranging from 50 to 100.

Social events in Ouagadougou are generally informal; dress is generally prescribed by invitation. An ability to converse in French permits full participation in Ouagadougou’s social life, although there are expatriates who speak English. The spouses and dependents of Mission officers are under no obligation to assist in official entertaining, however, voluntary participation in social and community activities, as well as on official occasions, is helpful to the Mission and is one way to make friends and learn more about Burkina Faso.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:16 AM

The American Embassy is an informal place, and most protocol is courtesy and common sense. Only the Ambassador and DCM are expected to make formal courtesy calls on Burkinabe officials and diplomatic colleagues. While it is not necessary to leave calling cards in Burkina, they can be useful as “business cards” in contacts with Burkinabe and other diplomatic missions. The mission can make a small number of cards, with an official seal, after an employee’s arrival in Ouagadougou. Cards can also be ordered before or after arrival from various stationery companies in the U.S. that are familiar with Foreign Service formats. Business cards can also be created via Intranet. Small, blank note cards are useful for both invitations and thank you notes. Small note cards with African motifs are available locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:26 AM

Post Orientation Program

CLO coordinates a voluntary sponsorship program for newcomers. Sponsors help to prepare the house for incoming families, meet newcomers at the airport, and help them to settle in and adjust to life in Ouagadougou. Write the CLO (the generic e-mail account is, well in advance of arrival, with any questions you may have. The CLO can provide you with more up-to-date information about Ouagadougou. Post offers free French-language classes to American employees and their spouses at the Embassy, provided that funds are available.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:07 AM

There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Ouagadougou. At present, personnel travel to Ouagadougou via Paris on Air France (code-sharing with Delta). Regardless of routing, travelers should ensure that travel to post complies with the Fly America Act. Notify your personnel officer or Embassy Ouagadougou of your travel plans well in advance. Include your flight number, date and time of arrival, number of dependents, pieces of luggage, and if you are bringing a pet. This will ensure that you are met on arrival and assisted through customs and immigration. This information is also helpful to the GSO for preparation of your living quarters.

Include in your accompanying luggage any personal items that you might need in those first weeks. Do not forget special medications, important papers, an alarm clock, mosquito repellent, etc.

Send UAB and HHE by the most direct routing, using U.S. carriers when possible and as required. We recommend routing via Paris or Brussels for onward shipment to Ouagadougou. In general, shipments from the U.S. are transported to the European Logistics Support Office (ELSO) in Antwerp, Belgium and then onward (via air) to Ouagadougou. Bill of lading for all shipments should be marked/consigned as follows:

American Ambassador (employee’s initials in parentheses) American Embassy Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

HHE and consumable shipments generally take 2–3 months to arrive. For more detailed information about shipments, refer to your TMTWO and/or arrival cable or contact your post of departure. For other information on packing, shipping, and traveling, check the Foreign Service Assignment Notebook or It’s Your Move available from the Overseas Briefing Center.

To facilitate customs clearance on all shipments, fax a detailed packing list or inventory, including an estimate of dollar value of goods shipped to GSO Shipping Department at:

(226) 50 30 67 23 or (226) 50 33 02 40 IVG line 770 ext. 4006

Other necessary shipping documents (original bill of lading, packer’s list of contents, and measurements and weight of containers) are generally sent by GSO at previous post or by the U.S. dispatch agent. If shipment originates in the U.S., bring an extra copy of the inventory as a record in case of loss.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:07 AM

The Government of Burkina Faso allows duty-free entry of HHE for all diplomatic personnel for the full length of their assignments. Nondiplomatic personnel receive duty-free entry of effects for up to 6 months after arrival. Duty-free privileges for contractors vary, depending upon agreement reached between the Burkinabe Government and the particular project. Each accredited member of Mission is allowed one POV duty-free. If a second vehicle (including motorcycles and mopeds) is imported (at the owner’s expense) or purchased locally, the vehicle must be registered locally and will not be assigned diplomatic plates. GSO arranges customs clearance for HHE, consumables, and vehicle shipments. No restrictions exist on bringing foreign currency into Burkina Faso. There are no restrictions on shipping alcoholic beverages in your HHE.

Passage Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:17 AM

Visas are required for entry into Burkina Faso. Visas can be obtained from the Burkina Embassy in Washington, DC, in any city where Burkina Faso has a diplomatic mission or from a French embassy in those nations that have no Burkina consular representatives. The embassy can obtain an “airport visa” for persons with diplomatic or official passports who are coming from a country where Burkina Faso is not represented. Airport visa requests should be made at least 5 working days before arrival and should include full name, date and place of issue, and the date and flight number of your arrival. Two small photos of each traveler may be required in order to get an airport visa on arrival. Before leaving, be sure to obtain visas for any stopover countries you may visit that require them as well (I.E. France requires a visa for U.S. Diplomatic passports).

Travelers to Burkina Faso must present a current immunization certificate for yellow fever. Travelers entering Burkina Faso, by car, must present original registration papers or proof-of-ownership documents for the vehicle. After arrival, persons holding diplomatic or official passports are required to obtain 1-year, multiple-entry visas. Persons with regular passports must obtain short-term or resident visas on entry and exit visas on leaving the country. Official Americans are issued Burkina identity cards. Bring at least 12 extra passport-sized photos for the ID, visa extension and other official uses. ID photos for visas for out-of-country travel can be taken locally. A valid driver’s license is required to drive in Burkina Faso. A U.S. or international driver’s license is acceptable.

Pets Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:25 AM

No quarantine is required to enter Burkina Faso. However, pets must be accompanied by an up-to-date rabies vaccination certificate that is at least one week, but not more than one year, old and a veterinary certificate attesting to the good health of your pet issued not more than 5 days before arrival. Dogs and cats are also required to have yearly rabies shots.

While Burkina's rules for pet importation are generally less stringent than many other countries, your pet will almost certainly have to transit Europe to/from Burkina Faso. As a result, Post recommends that you ensure that your pet meets all of the stringent standards for importation into the European Union. If you choose not to follow the European requirements (spelled out in some detail below), you will almost certainly encounter headaches and heartaches trying to get your beloved Fido to/from Burkina.

The European Union is implementing a continent-wide set of pet importation regulations that also affect animals that are transiting Paris via CDG airport. If you are transiting Paris, you must get a specific waiver of these regulations. To obtain a waiver, you must fax to the onsite veterinary official at CDG in advance a veterinary certificate attesting to the good health of your pet along with your flight numbers/itinerary. You should obtain your certificate of good health not more than 5 days and not less than 3 days prior to your departure. If your pet’s rabies vaccination is more than one year old, you will also need to update this vaccination no less than 30 days prior to your departure.

Fax your certificate and itinerary to: Services vétérinaires Roissy CDG rue du Pélican – zone de fret 1 – BP10111 – 95701 Roissy CDG cedex Tel: (33) Fax: (33)

The veterinary official at CDG will fax you confirmation of your waiver. Hand-carry this confirmation (or the fax confirmation sheet indicating that your original fax was successfully transmitted to the CDG veterinary service if you never received a response), along with the original certificate of good health and proof of an up-to-date rabies vaccination, with you when you board the flight. While it is possible that French officials will not insist on seeing this paperwork for hand-carried animals, we strongly advise that you complete all the necessary paperwork in advance of your arrival in Paris.

Should your pet be traveling as accompanied baggage, you will need to personally collect your pet upon arrival in Paris and then recheck your pet prior to your departure. We strongly advise anyone traveling with pets not to schedule any extended layover in Paris, as you may be forced to demonstrate compliance with the full set of pet importation requirements.

While the shipment of pets is not reimbursable by government agencies, it may be tax-deductible as a moving expense. When shipping pets, start to plan early as many airlines now have embargoes on shipping animals during hot summer months. Please advise GSO ahead of time if you intend to ship a pet.

Veterinary services are available in Ouagadougou but they are not up to western standards. You are encouraged to bring with you or ship any medications or treatments, as well as specialized food, your pet may need.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:18 AM

You must request permission from the Ambassador to bring personal firearms to post. The Burkina government restricts ownership of 9mm firearms, and firearm permits are expensive. If you intend to ship personal firearms please send all pertinent information (weapon’s technical characteristics, copies of purchase documents and copy of your diplomatic passport data page) to GSO, well in advance of your arrival. Under no circumstances should weapons be placed in your accompanied baggage.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:08 AM

Burkina Faso is part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), whose members use the Communauté Financière de l’Afrique (CFA) franc, a convertible currency tied to the Euro at a fixed rate of 655.957 CFA to 1 Euro. The WAEMU group of countries includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. As of May 2004, the exchange rate was approximately 550 FCFA to $1 (off from a high of approximately 750 FCFA to $1 in early 2001).

The metric system is used as the standard system of weights and measures.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/29/2004 7:18 AM

Official and diplomatic personnel are exempt from Burkinabe income taxes or excise levies other than restaurant consumption taxes. Although the Mission is trying to negotiate a cancellation, the local government is currently charging a valued added tax (VAT) on all local purchases.

Employees may sell personal property (including POVs) while at post. However, the Embassy maintains strict control to ensure that diplomatic privileges are not abused. Employees wishing to sell items must inform the Management Officer prior to any sale. Given the complexity of local customs regulations (especially when selling to a person without duty-free privileges), as well as the Department of State’s own requirements, the GSO shipping and customs department is available to provide additional information and guidance.

The Embassy provides accommodation exchange services for American employees, their family members and official visitors through the cashier’s office, located at the Embassy. The office is open for several hours each day, Monday through Friday. Local currency can be obtained from the cashier by a personal check written on a U.S. bank or dollar traveler check or U.S. currency. Checks can be cashed for CFA francs up to the amount of $500. Dollars are paid out only for official travel outside of Burkina Faso, depending on availability. Banking services, such as checking accounts, are available through several local banks, but Americans seldom use them.

Burkina Faso operates as a cash economy. With the exception of banks, airlines, and the very large tourist hotels, nearly all local transactions are done in cash. Credit cards are gaining acceptance (especially at businesses catering to expatriates) although most staff choose not to endure the several mintues long process of requesting and receiving credit card verification. In addition, a number of the businesses that accept credit cards charge a transaction fee on top of any bank-related charges that you may occur. ATM machines are also becoming more widely available in Ouagadougou and in Bobo-Dioulasso, although one should not expect to find a working ATM in any of the smaller towns around the country. Although travelers checks (in Euros or dollars) can be used at banks and the very large hotels in Ouaga, most members of the Mission have very little need for travelers checks (given the Embassy’s exchange facilities). Employees coming to Ouagadougou should maintain a checking account in the U.S. as dollar checks are needed to obtain local currency from the Embassy cashier and to make payments to mail-order companies and creditors in the U.S.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/3/2003 10:20 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Burkinabe are proud of their culture and long history. The 1,000-year-old history of the Mossi of Burkina is of special interest to those assigned to this friendly country. Former U.S. Ambassador Elliott Skinner has written extensively on the Mossi.

Personnel in Washington, DC should request a showing of a 20-minute color film (audio in English) on Burkina, available through the Overseas Briefing Center (FSI). For general reading on Africa, the Selected Functional Bibliography of the FSI Center on Sub-Saharan African Studies is recommended. You can learn much about Africa in general and Burkina in particular, from materials listed in the following bibliography.

Travel Guides Lonely Planet, West Africa, 1999

Klotchkoff, Jean-Pierre, Burkina Faso, Jaguar Editions (Paris), 1998

History, Politics and Sociology Devilliers, Gerard, Putsch A Ouagadougou, Plon (Paris), 1984

Englebert, Pierre, Burkina Faso: Unsteady Statehood in West Africa, Westview Press, 1989

Howorth, Chris, Rebuilding the Local Landscape: Environmental Management in Burkina Faso, 1999

McMillan, Della, Sahel Visions: Planned Settlement and River Blindness Control in Burkina Faso, 1995

Riesman, Paul, First Find Your child a Good Mother: The Construction of Self in Two African Communities, 1992

Riesman, Paul, Freedom in Fulani Social Life, 1998

Sanders, Shapiro and Ramaswamy, The Economics of Agricultural Technology in Semiarid Sub-Sahara Africa, 1996

Sankara, Thomas, Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87, (translated by Samantha Anderson), 1988

Skinner, Elliott P., African Urban Life: The Transformation of Ouagadougou, 1974 (out of print)

Skinner, Elliott P., The Mossi of Burkina Faso: Chiefs, Politicians, Soldiers, 1989 (out of print)

Culture, Art and Tradition Dagan, Esther, Man and His Vision — Traditional Wood Sculpture of Burkina Faso, 1995

Guirma, Frederic, Tales of Mogho: African Stories from Upper Volta, 1971 (out of print)

Roy, Christopher D., Art of the Upper Volta Rivers, 1987

Some, Sobonfu, The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships, 2000

Some, Sobonfu, Welcoming Spirit Home: Ancient African Teachings to Celebrate Children and Community, 1999

Wise, Christopher, The Desert Shore: Literatures of the Sahel, 2001

Reference DeCalo, Samuel, Burkina Faso (World Bibliographic Series), 1994

Ewing, Doyle, Youngblood and Kelly, Burkina Faso Country Review, 1999

Rupley, Lawrence and McFarland, Daniel M., Historical Dictionary of Burkina Faso, 1998

Local Holidays Last Updated: 4/28/2004 4:11 AM

Shops and government offices are closed on local holidays. Although American and local-hire employees of U.S. Government agencies observe both Burkinabe and American holidays, as approved by the Management Officer, personnel need not schedule arrival to avoid holidays. Airport assistance will be provided. For 2004, the Burkina holidays are as follows:

New Year’s Day January 1 National Day January 3 Id Al-Adha/Tabaski* February International Women’s Day March 8 Easter Monday April 24 Labor Day May 1 Mouloud* May 1 Ascension Day May 20 Independence Day August 5 Assumption Day August 16 All Saints’ Day November 1 Id Al-Fitr/Ramadan* November Proclamation of Independence December 11 Christmas Day December 25

* Muslim holidays are observed according to the lunar calendar. Ramadan is about 10 days earlier each year.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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