Burkina Faso: Infrastructure

Climate change is expected to significantly affect Burkina Faso’s infrastructure sector through extreme weather events, such as flooding and droughts. High precipitation amounts can lead to flooding of transport infrastructure including roads and railroads, while high temperatures can cause roads, bridges and protective structures to develop cracks and degrade more quickly. Transport infrastructure is very vulnerable to extreme weather events, yet essential for social, economic and agricultural livelihoods. Roads serve communities to trade their goods and access healthcare, education, credit as well as other services, especially in rural and remote areas.

Extreme weather events will also have devastating effects on human settlements and economic production sites, especially in urban areas with high population densities like Ouagadougou or Bobo-Dioulasso. Informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events: Makeshift homes are often built in unstable geographical locations including river banks, where flooding can lead to loss of housing, contamination of water, injury or death. Dwellers usually have low adaptive capacity to respond to such events due to high levels of poverty and a lack of risk-reducing infrastructures. These challenges are particularly salient in Ouagadougou, where urban flooding is a major problem during the rainy season. For example, in 2009, the city experienced torrential precipitation leading to water runoffs and flooding, affecting more than 180 000 people. 41 people died and 33 172 houses were completely destroyed [25].

Despite the risk of infrastructure damage being likely to increase due to climate change, precise predictions of the location and the extent of exposure are difficult to make. For example, projections of river flood events are subject to substantial modelling uncertainty, largely due to the uncertainty of future projections of precipitation amounts and their spatial distribution, affecting flood occurrence (see also Figure 4 in the Climate section). In the case of Burkina Faso, projections for both RCP2.6 and RCP6.0 show almost no change in the exposure of major roads to river floods. In the year 2000, 0.13 % of major roads were exposed to river floods at least once a year, while by 2080, this value is projected to change to 0.14 % under RCP2.6 and to 0.12 % under RCP6.0. In a similar way, exposure of urban land area to floods is projected not to change under either RCP (Figure 13).

Figure 12: Projections of major roads exposed to river floods at least once a year for Burkina Faso for different GHG emissions scenarios.
Figure 13: Projections of urban land area exposed to river floods at least once a year for Burkina Faso for different GHG emissions scenarios.

While all models project an increase in the exposure of the GDP to heatwaves, the magnitude of the increase is subject to high modelling uncertainty with two models projecting strong and two models projecting weak increases. Median model projections for RCP2.6 show an increase from 2.0 % in 2000 to 7.0 % by 2080. Under RCP6.0, exposure is projected to increase to 10.5 % over the same time period. It is recommended that policy planners start identifying heat-sensitive economic production sites and activities, and integrating climate adaptation strategies, such as improved, solar-powered cooling systems, “cool roof” isolation materials or switching the operating hours from day to night [26].

Figure 14: Exposure of GDP in Burkina Faso to heatwaves for different GHG emissions scenarios.


[25] S. Dos Santos, J. P. Peumi, and A. Soura, “Risk Factors of Becoming a Disaster Victim: The Flood of September 1st, 2009, in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso),” Habitat Int., vol. 86, no. March, pp. 81–90, 2019.
[26] M. Dabaieh, O. Wanas, M. A. Hegazy, and E. Johansson, “Reducing Cooling Demands in a Hot Dry Climate: A Simulation Study for Non-Insulated Passive Cool Roof Thermal Performance in Residential Buildings,” Energy Build., vol. 89, pp. 142–152, 2015.