Since independence in 1960, Burkinabe authorities have recognized culture’s fundamental role in development processes in key documents such as the National Cultural Policy (2009) and the Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development (2010-2015). The challenge is to ensure that the full range of culture’s benefits is considered and that culture is consistently mainstreamed as a defining and sustainable component in national development plans. The new wealth of data on culture and development, which resulted from implementing the Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS), brings with it new perspectives for additional targeted and effective policies and interventions in the area of culture and development in Burkina Faso. The timing is right for such new empirical data in Burkina Faso as authorities have embarked on improving cultural indicators for policy purposes through the Support Programme for Strengthening Policy and the Cultural Industries (ARPIC), launched in 2012 with the support of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.
Culture matters in Burkina Faso: CDIS indicators highlight Burkina Faso’s culture sector’s potential for economic development and wellbeing, while underlining certain obstacles in place that inhibit it from reaching its full potential.
The results of the CDIS indicate that Burkina Faso has acquired normative, policy and institutional frameworks, as well as mechanisms for civil society participation 8 9 11 (0.7/1; 1/1; 0.62/1), which lay the foundation for good cultural governance and the promotion of a dynamic culture sector. Similarly, public institutions provide a fairly diverse offering of programmes related to culture at the TVET and tertiary levels 7 (0.7/1), reflecting authorities’ interest and willingness to invest in cultural education at the professional level. However, other data illustrates that arts education is absent during key formative years 6 (0%), which may disfavour the promotion of cultural participation and hinder the development of individuals’ interest, skills and opportunities to pursue a professional career in the culture sector.
The economic potential of Burkina Faso’s culture sector in undeniable, and could become a true pillar for development. More than 170,000 individuals, or approximately 2.14% of the active population of Burkina Faso, perform cultural occupations 2. Though methodological constraints have prevented constructing a core CDIS indicator on the contribution of the culture sector to GDP, the National Institute of Statistics and Demographics (INSD) estimates that culture contributes to nearly 4% of national GDP. In particular, the Burkinabe audio-visual sector is very dynamic, illustrated by the high low levels of supply of domestic fiction productions on public TV 21 (27.3%). While the telecommunication sector may be rapidly expanding in Burkina Faso, the percentage of individuals that have access to and use the Internet continues to be very low 20 (2.64%), though new technologies have the potential to be a catalyst for development by serving as a significant means to spread knowledge and improve access to cultural content.
Significant inequality in the distribution of cultural infrastructures between the 13 regions of Burkina Faso 10 (0.51/1), not only limits opportunities to access cultural life, but also disfavours outlets for cultural production, diffusion and enjoyment. Increased support of infrastructures may assist in expanding domestic consumption of cultural goods and services 3 (0.62% of total household consumption expenditures) and enhance the market potential of the sector. Similarly, the sustainability of Burkina Faso’s natural and cultural heritage 22 (0.62/1) highly depends on the ability of all regions to register, preserve and promote their tangible and intangible heritage. To assure the protection and promotion of Burkina Faso’s cultural diversity, the transfer of knowledge and the decentralization of responsibilities must continue.
The CDIS encourages the recognition of culture as a contributor to social cohesion and wellbeing. In Burkina Faso, focus may need to be placed on reinforcing low levels of interpersonal trust 17 (0.55/1), and to promote more positive perceptions of gender equality 18 (46%).(14.7%), and self-determination of Burkinabés (5.38/10). Trust between individuals and the feeling of being able to orientate one’s own life appear to be at levels that are significantly lower than the tolerance of individuals for a different cultural background (88.7%). Regarding gender equality, indispensable for development, indicators suggest that increased public efforts may be needed to eliminate the gaps in objective outputs between men and women