Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Season Security Reminders

The holiday season in Ouagadougou is upon us and, unfortunately, this may bring an increase in crime, vehicle accidents, and security-related incidents.  The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and to utilize the following security practices:

Personal Security Practices

  • Vary your routes and times.
  • Keep your doors locked and windows closed (residence and vehicle).
  • Maintain a low profile.  Avoid doing anything that draws attention to you or your family.
  • Remain alert to what is going on around you.
  • Make someone aware of your plans when you leave the city. Inform them where you are going and when you plan on returning.  
  • Be unpredictable.  Don’t have a set day for shopping, errands, and personal services.  Travel in small groups or convoys (if possible).
  • Walk in an alert, confident manner and don’t travel through questionable parts of town.
  • Avoid spontaneous gatherings or demonstrations.
  • Protect your personal information.  Avoid giving out personal information, such as names of family members or household staff, addresses, or telephone numbers in open settings.


While most areas of Ouagadougou are safe during daylight hours, city streets become less safe at night, especially at this time of year.  U.S. citizens are strongly advised to carry around only what they would be willing to lose in the event of a robbery.  To mitigate the risk of being targeted, we suggest taking the following:

  • Maintain a high-level of situational awareness.
  • Try to walk with others, and avoid poorly lit streets, narrow alleys, and isolated locations.
  • Be wary of people who approach you.  Not every smile is a friendly one, and U.S. Embassy staff has reported encounters with con artists and persons seeking to intimidate them.

Residential Security

Residential burglaries and property theft incidents continue to be an issue in Ouagadougou, as is consistent with urban areas throughout the world.  We cannot emphasize enough the importance of using all the security features available in your residence to deter or defeat burglary attempts, theft, and home invasion.

  • Residential doors and windows should remain locked at all times, and no keys should be kept in keyholes.  We continue to encounter keys left in the interior keyholes of glass doors.  This is an open invitation for someone to break the glass, turn the key, and easily enter your home.
  • Use a residential alarm if you have one, both when your home is unoccupied and at night while you sleep.
  • Secure bikes and other items of value that are stored outside the house and lock car doors overnight.
  • Make sure that all domestic staff knows what to do in an emergency.

Political Violence

Demonstrations – to include, opposition and student protests – may continue with the lead-up to the 2015 presidential election.  These incidents may disrupt traffic and turn chaotic or even violent.  If you encounter a protest or demonstration, you should immediately leave the area.  If you are in your vehicle, you should turn around and take an alternate route.  You should always scan the area in front of you and pay particular attention when approaching choke points (areas with limited egress or restricted traffic flow) and be prepared to take evasive action at any time.

Traffic Safety 

Drive defensively.  Keep doors locked, windows up, and seat belts on at all times.  Yield to aggressive drivers and maintain a cool head in traffic – even if you have the right of way.  In traffic, always attempt to leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow room to maneuver in the event of an emergency.  If you have an accident, you should not move your vehicle until instructed to do so by a police officer.

If you feel like you are being followed in your vehicle, drive to a safe place (police station, hotel, or gas station), and immediately call the police for assistance.  Avoid leading the person back to your residence.

 The U.S. Embassy wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

For further information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Burkina Faso Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou, in Ouaga 2000, Sector 15, on Avenue Sembene Ousmane, southeast of the Monument aux Héros Nationaux,  at (+226) 25-49-53-00, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.  If you are a U.S. citizen in an emergency situation after normal Embassy operating hours, please contact the Embassy, dial “1,” and ask to be connected to the duty officer.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).