A “vaccination commando” immunised 2.5 million children in 15 days against meningitis, yellow fever and measles. By 1986, a U.N. assisted programme brought river blindness under control. An “alpha commando” involving 35,000 people tackled the 90% illiteracy rate, educating people in nine indigenous languages.
Hundreds of new schools and medical dispensaries were built, many of these by communities with their own hands. Often there were not enough teachers or doctors to staff the new establishments. Burkina Faso started a huge public housing programme and nationalised the country’s mineral wealth.