© Ollivier Girard for IPC, Burkina Faso  © Ollivier Girard for IPC, Burkina Faso

Social mapping: transforming communities' health in Burkina Faso


 © Ollivier Girard for IPC, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso faces enormous challenges providing healthcare for its citizens. For example, there is just one midwife for every 13,000 inhabitants and a quarter of all births take place at home. This means mothers – together with their unborn and newborn babies – are at particular risk of complications during pregnancy or childbirth.


In the central-eastern region, home to just under a million people, a simple but innovative social mapping exercise has been capturing all-important data that has far-reaching implications for planning, implementing and following-up health services in the community. Led by the Initiative Privée et Communautaire de Lutte Contre le VIH/SIDA au Burkina Faso (IPC), in conjunction with the Regional Health Centre, the project targets women of childbearing age in six districts. It is a prime example of how the work of community-based organisations can help meet a population’s health needs.  

Community health volunteers capture real-time data on the health of households as well as monitoring follow-up services, including treatment adherence. To date more than 500 villages have been mapped enabling over 100,000 women and girls in remote areas to be referred on to formal health services including family planning, antenatal care and safe delivery services.

Encouraging uptake of services is a crucial step in a region where contraceptive coverage stands at just 21% – seven percentage points below the already low national average of 28%. This is where the community health volunteers are key to success, acting as a gateway to link up families with their local health centre. The mapping tool is deliberately uncomplicated and does not depend on high literacy levels. This enables both the volunteers to use it when interviewing households, and helps individuals to take an active part in the decision-making processes affecting their own health.

The community action led by IPC and its partners is bridging the gap between informal community systems and formal health services, improving health and saving lives.  

This case study is an example of how we scale up integrated HIV programming, which is response 1 of our 2010-12 strategy, HIV and Healthy Communities. Find out more about our impact in our 2012 Annual Review: Ambition and Acceleration.

More info: View a photo gallery of our global work on HIV and maternal health here.


Burkina Faso