Following the October 2014 protests in Burkina Faso, the Projet d’Appui aux Elections (Electoral Support Project) was developed in 2015 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme. With the aim to help organize free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections, 14 international and 48 national UN Volunteers were deployed throughout the country to support the CENI - Commission électorale nationale indépendante (Independent national electoral commission).
UN Volunteer Somda Flore (centre) helps to raise awareness about the importance of the elections among the local population in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. (UNV, 2016)
In Korsimoro City, near the capital Ouagadougou, UN Volunteers encourage people’s participation in the elections. Through citizenship awareness sessions, they especially encourage the participation of women in the electoral process.
“Women account for most of the country’s electorate, and therefore play a significant role in the country’s development,” adds Somda Flore, another national UN Volunteer.
Elsewhere, in the south east of Burkina Faso, a campaign to raise awareness amongst women in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso about the importance of the elections in fighting corruption allows men and women to debate and confront different opinions. A local assembly attentively listens to the discussions, dancing to the rhythm of the djembes. The purpose of this exercise is to foster debate among the local population prior to the elections.
Ma voix compte (my voice counts)
Moreover, football matches organized by the UN Volunteers allow to raise awareness amongst youth about the importance of accepting the results after an election. Under the slogan ‘Je suis jeune. Pour des élections municipales apaisées, je m’engage’ (I am young. I participate to achieve peaceful local elections), the objective was to “encourage youth to accept the outcome of the elections”, said Saidou Ouédraogo, superintendent at the CENI for the Haut Bassin region.
Mr Ouédraogo also thinks that the UN Volunteers provide substantial support to the electoral process in Burkina Faso by training local electoral contributors in remote areas, for instance in partnership with the Réseau ouest africain des enseignants pour l’intégration et la paix (West African teachers’ network for integration and peace).
As of today, 40 UN Volunteers are serving in Burkina Faso to support peace and development in the country. Two thirds of the UN Volunteers are nationals and about a third are women.