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Burkina Faso

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Profile Publication Date: Aug 2010
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Burkina Faso is land-locked and has two large agro-ecological zones: the sahelian zone in the North, where pastoralism and agro-pastoralism predominate, and the sudanian zone with most of the cultivable land. Agricultural land is 40% of the total land area and irrigated cropland is only 0.5%. Forests cover 25% of the land, with an average annual deforestation rate of .03%. Eighty percent of the population is rural, making a living primarily through agriculture, livestock and forestry on small family farms.

Created within the previously Réorganisation Agraire et Foncière (RAF) framework, the new Rural Land Tenure Law (adopted in June, 2009) enables legal recognition of rights legitimated by customary rules and practices. In rural areas, customary land tenure rules have long governed land transactions and allocations, although in some communities, cash-based land transactions and increasing pressure on land resources are eroding the ability of customary systems to manage land resources. The new law reinforces the decentralization and devolution of authority over land matters and also provides for formalization of individual and collective use rights, as well as the possibility of transforming these rights into private titles.

Periodic drought has exacerbated the loss of vegetation and biodiversity. Population growth, the expansion of agriculture, and periodic overstocking and overgrazing of livestock have increased the pressure on land resources. Other environmental threats include erosion from wind and water, loss of soil nutrients, and uncontrolled bush fires.

Although mining does not play a large part in Burkina Faso's economy, artisanal gold mining grew significantly after the serious droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. Between 100,000 and 200,000 artisanal miners work in gold mining on a minimum of 200 sites.

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