From crisis to transition: Media in Burkina Faso

The role of the media in Burkina Faso’s crisis in late 2014 was crucial in many ways. This briefing paper from IMS provides an initial assessment of the media sector and its needs following political unrest in the country in October/November 2014.

The findings and recommendations are the result of a mission to Ouagadougou by International Media Support from 16 – 20 November 2014 to investigate the state of the media sector in light of the crisis sparked by political unrest in October and November 2014. The report also looks at the needs of media workers in the transitional period leading up to elections in the country.

Landlocked Burkina Faso is a poor country, even by West African standards. The country has suffered from recurring droughts and most recently a popular uprising (insurrection populaire, as it is termed locally) forced long-term leader Blaise Compaoré from office at the end of October 2014 when protestors hit the streets protesting Compaoré’s latest attempt to change the constitution. Following intense pressure and violent protests over the possible prolonging of his 27-year rule through a constitutional amendment Compaoré resigned on 31 October 2014.

The country is home to a dynamic media sector with some 250 press houses across the country. As in much of Sub-Saharan Africa, radio is still the preferred media, although print media and television are gaining ground.