National Identity Cards as a Critical Step Toward Economic Empowerment

In Burkina Faso, possession of a Burkinabé National Identity Card is a must for most aspects of adult life. Voting in elections, holding a job, opening a bank account—all require an identity card. Moving—or even traveling from one region to another—without an identity card was already a criminal offense, but it has become even more risky now that identity checkpoints have been established throughout the country due to heightened security in the country.

Even buying a SIM card for your mobile phone is impossible without the national identity card.

Despite the importance of this document, data from 400 villages participating in the Soutenir l’Exploitation Familiale pour Lancer l’Elevage des Volailles et Valoriser l’Economie Rurale II (SELEVER II) project shows that 71 to 91 percent of women either do not own, or have not renewed, their national identity cards. Participants live in remote areas, making it difficult to file paperwork. Some do not possess birth certificates to establish their legal identities.

Identity cards for 600 people

The SELEVER II project uses poultry as a lever to economically empower women in Burkina Faso. Economic empowerment, however, is next to impossible without a Burkinabé National Identity Card. Tanager therefore determined that helping project participants secure their identity cards was a critical early step in supporting them along this path.

To start, staff consulted with local government officials and market players to determine the information required to obtain identity cards and shared this out with communities. Tanager then contacted regional officers from the National Office of Identification to agree upon enrollment periods.

identity card registration in Burkina Faso

The first registration drive took place in September 2022 in the towns of Poa and Koudougou in the Centre-Ouest region. Nearly 222 people—162 women and 60 men—successfully obtained their national identity cards. This past June, an additional 378 residents—264 women and 114 men—in the Boucle du Mouhoun were able to register for their identity cards.

Men line up to renew or register for the ID card.

Value of owning an identity card

The women who were able to obtain or renew their identity cards noted that the document will now allow them to move and access financial services without constraints or fears. In addition to traveling more easily, the identity cards will ensure they can register their children for school (a parent’s identity card is used to complete school documents), among other things.

Tanager is currently working with partners to ensure project participants in the Centre-Sud, Centre-Ouest, and Hauts-Bassins regions will also be able to register for their Burkinabé National Identity Cards.