Trachoma and onchocerciasis are still the two major tropical infections most dangerous to eyesight. According to the WHO, onchocerciasis affects more than a billion people worldwide. Africa bears almost the entire global burden of onchocerciasis, with 30 of the 37 endemic countries in the world and more than 99% of onchocerciasis and related blindness cases. This infection is spread through the bite of a black fly, living near lakes and rivers, which, if left untreated, leads to permanent blindness. 

Trachoma, on the other hand, affects 2 million people. If left untreated, over time it causes scarring to the eyelid that pulls the eyelashes inward, so with every blink they scrape against the eye, which can lead to sight-loss.. It is children who are most affected by this disease, preventing them from receiving an education and severely handicapping them for the future.

In Burkina Faso, these diseases are still rife in some areas. Elimination of these diseases is necessary to avoid a large-scale expansion in the country. 


Supported Project

With the support of L'OCCITANE, the NGO Sightsavers supports the Ministry of Health in the elimination of these 2 pathologies in the Cascades region, one of the 2 regions still endemic of onchocerciasis in Burkina. This elimination strategy revolves around 4 axes:

  • Medical training aimed at the treatment of trachoma and onchocerciasis,
  • Campaigns for screening and surgical operations for Ttrachoma and mass treatment for onchocerciasis,
  • Supply of material resources,
  • Ownership of the strategy to fight onchocerciasis by local communities.

Some Figures

The objective is to ensure that the inhabitants of the Cascades Region are rid of these pathologies and to set up a system of surveillance and management of possible cases of recidivism.

Each year, at least 40,000 people are treated for onchocerciasis and since the beginning of our collaboration with the NGO, over 600,000 treatments have been administered. In addition, the project has treated over 33,000 people for trachoma. 

2020 Budget 185,500 euros

2020 Goal 58,714 beneficiaries

History of the Partnership

Project supported since 2013

Since 2013, the L'OCCITANE Foundation has supported the actions of the NGO Sightsavers to eliminate onchocerciasis and trachoma in the Cascades region of Burkina Faso. This project particularly puts into practice the control strategies recommended by the WHO. These include:

  • Sensitization and training of the various community actors, mass distribution of drugs (Ivermectin) and the conduct of evaluation and impact surveys, with regard to the onchocerciasis.
  • Training of medical personnel, sensitization of the population, provision of equipment, treatment (surgery) and carrying out assessments with regard to trachoma. 

Thanks to this project and within the framework of the elimination of trachoma, Sightsavers piloted in 2018 for the first time in Burkina Faso, the TT plus approach. The satisfactory results of this new approach encourage the NGO to renew it over the coming years in the area or even to replicate it throughout the country if necessary.

Total Budget 881,124 euros

Outcomes 89,490 beneficiaries


"I didn't know I could get this disease [onchocerciasis] WHILE we live so close to the river. Taking these drugs is good for us because they protect us from these diseases."

Kone Sanata, 35 years old and mother of 6 children.



Kone Sanata

“What really makes me happy in this work is that it is helping to prevent people from catching the disease. I meet lots of people in the village, which makes me happy. Eyesight is important because if you don’t have sight, this will really disturb your work in many ways, This is a serious problem that you can face.”

Mariam is 34 years old and works to protect as many people as she can from the threat of river blindness in her community. For the past five years, she has worked as a community volunteer distributing medication in her local area, a job she says she loves.

Sightsavers - Mariam

“I was not able to fund the cataract surgery as the cost of this surgery would be very expensive for me."

65 year old Souleymane was one of the screened patients at Banfora Hospital. He was diagnosed with cataract in his left eye and underwent cataract surgery at Banfora Hospital managed by Banfora CHR team. After his surgery, Souleymane went back to his village with his son.



Sightsavers - Souleymane