Saturday, November 10, 2012


Burkina Faso has civil servants just like any other country- and the professions encompass nurses, doctors, teachers, etc. Usually, any profession requiring some type of special higher education is going to be a fonctionnaire profession and the individual will most likely be employed by the government. The civil servant system is very much like the Peace Corps system- you go where they send you. They call it “affectation” or, an appointment/ posting.

The way the system was explained to me was that somebody is posted to a region, the region then sorts through the candidates and decides who goes where. That decision is then brought to the mayor of the commune (county-ish)/ village and if the person is okayed- the process moves forward where the mayor tells the district, the district tells the old district that was responsible for the person, and then the note gets posted that they have been reassigned.

If you’re talking about a new fonctionnaire- someone who hasn’t had a post before it’s really easy- they just pick up their stuff and go. But, if you’re leaving your old site to go to a new one that means that your replacement has to show up, before you can leave, and that could take a while. And, that creates some issues as well because as a fonctionnaire you don’t know when your replacement is coming so you pack up your house and get rid of your stuff bit by bit but you don’t want to get rid of too much because what happens if your replacement doesn’t show up for two months, but you don’t want to send too little because what happens if he/she shows up tomorrow? Just food for thought.

From the perspective of a Peace Corps volunteer this is a double edged sword in almost the truest sense of the word. Say for example there’s someone you have a difficult time working with- if they get reposted you don’t have to work with them anymore and there’s the potential that the next person will be easier to work with and, if they’re difficult to work with- the status quo hasn’t really changed. However, if you have an awesome person to work with- someone who speaks local language better than you do for example, or someone who knows everybody in the village, or somebody who is just really good with people, is open to new ideas, and is willing to expand their own horizons- well that can be kind of sad. Because you don’t get to work with this awesome person anymore and it’s tough. So you can hope that the process gets delayed and the replacement doesn’t get immediate permission to go because their replacement hasn’t showed up yet but, once the reposting assignment is posted well, resistance is futile.

As you might imagine, my CSPS is losing three people. One is going to Ouagadougou, and two are going to Koudougou. And, I’ll just have to wait and see if any of the nurses who are coming in are as cool as the nurses that are going out. But, maybe it’ll be the same thing for them when I leave next year.  

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