Changing lives in Burkina Faso | Action Against Hunger

Changing lives in Burkina Faso

Thanks to your support, our team is making a difference to young lives in Burkina Faso, west Africa. This is the story of 18-month-old Soampa …

By Action Against Hunger

Oct 14 2015

Soampa Ouali was 18 months old when our colleagues discovered him in his village in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The team had been looking for another malnourished child when they spotted Soampa’s worryingly fragile frame and approached his mother Kanlie Kompari to see if they could be of help.

Measuring the toddler’s middle upper arm circumference using a simple colour-coded tape quickly confirmed what our team had suspected – the little boy was dangerously malnourished. “I didn’t realise he was ill before,” said mother-of-four Kanlie. “It was only when a neighbour gave me a pair of trousers for him and they fell off straight away that I realised.”

Sadly, Soampa is not an isolated case. Burkina Faso remains a country with endemic poverty and Action Against Hunger estimates that around 30,000 children are suffering from malnutrition, particularly in the east of the country. To reduce this number, our team screen children for malnutrition and run nutrition and health programmes, in collaboration with Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Health.

Our team gave Kanlie, 28, a referral paper on the spot so that her son could receive immediate, free care at the local health centre. There, a quick weighing session revealed he was just 6.5 kilos and blood tests confirmed he was not only suffering with malnutrition, a bad cough and diarrhoea, but also malaria. Soampa was immediately given a vitamin A pill to boost his immune system and was started on a course of antibiotics and Plumpy’Nut supplements – a nutrient enriched, high-calorie nut-based paste given to boost the energy intake of severely malnourished children.

Soampa and his mum Kanlie at a health centre in Burkian Faso.


Their son will need to undergo weekly monitoring at the centre to ensure the treatment is working and that he is improving, but our team are confident he will make a good and relatively quick recovery.

And if getting to and from the health centre for weekly check ups proves difficult for the family, Action Against Hunger will arrange transport to the centre, where we provide training to health workers.

“I wasn’t happy when Action Against Hunger came at first,” Soampa’s mother Kanlie later said. “I thought it was all my fault. I didn’t want to know that my child was malnourished. But now I am happy and I realise how important that it is that they have come, and for Soampa to be looked after. “I am very happy now. I wish for my child to grow up healthy.”

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Top image: A mother with her child in Burkina Faso © Guillaume Gaffiot for Action Against Hunger

Soampa's image: © V. Vancura for Action Against Hunger