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Since May, the security situation has deteriorated in the country’s border areas.

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • August 2021
Since May, the security situation has deteriorated in the country’s border areas.

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Unlike the respite generally observed during the rainy season, increased incidents and fatalities have been reported since May, particularly in the northern and eastern areas. This has accelerated the deterioration of livelihoods and disrupted normal market operations. Even in the harvest period, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host households in these areas will remain exposed to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity through January 2022.

    • Despite the mostly normal progression of the rainy season, reduced farmland in the northern half and eastern area of the country and decreased yields expected in some areas due to weed infestation in fields and flood damage could maintain the national agricultural production near the five-year average.

    • With traders’ stocks below average, tensions for replenishment will probably be higher and last longer in the harvest and post-harvest period. As a result, cereal prices will remain higher than seasonal averages. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could continue to limit imports of certain mass-market foods, causing atypical price increases and deterioration of households’ purchasing power.


    The rainy season started early or on time within the country, following seasonal projections. June and July recorded dry spells exceeding 10 days locally in the Sahel, Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades, Centre-Est, and Est regions. This delayed planting in these areas and also pushed the crop maintenance schedule to August, an inopportune time due to the regular rains and decreased sun. This led to weed infestation in lowland fields in some areas. As of August 20, seasonal cumulative rainfall remains in excess to average in most parts of the country. However, slight to moderate deficits in the north compared to the average have been recorded (Figure 1). Nevertheless, these rainfall deficits have not significantly impacted normal crop development. Most cereal crops are in the tillering to stem elongation stage while legumes and cotton are in the ramification stage. Since the beginning of the season, attacks from armyworms and other crop pests have been observed on a total of 21,577 ha, mainly on maize crops, particularly in the southern regions (Directorate general for crop production). However, treatments have been carried out and the phytosanitary situation is stable overall. Government support with inputs is similar to average (33,000 tons of fertilizer and 4,000 tons of seeds). However, distribution delays have been reported in all regions.

    Jihadist armed groups continue to pillage and threaten retaliations on civilian populations, especially in border areas. Instead of the respite generally observed during the rainy season, the second quarter of 2021 saw more security incidents in northern and eastern Burkina Faso than in the four preceding months and than in the same period in 2020 (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project [ACLED]). Recent months were marked by some of the deadliest attacks reported since the beginning of the conflict. In particular, on June 4 and 5, Jihadists attacked the village of Solhan (Yagha province, Sahel region), killing 160 people. On August 18, Jihadists attacked a convoy of civilian vehicles near the village of Boukouma, situated between Gorgadji and Arbinda (Soum province, Sahel region), killing at least 80 civilians, 15 police officers, and six Homeland Defense Volunteers (VDPs).

    This has led to continued displacements for populations who are forced to abandon their livelihoods. The IDP total at the end of July was 1,368,164 (Permanent Secretariat [SP]/National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation [CONASUR]), representing an increase of 12 percent from three months prior. Areas in the Centre-Est region have become host areas with significant IDP flows. Further, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the presence of some 11,000 Burkinabé asylum seekers in neighboring Niger, representing an increase of 48 percent compared to January. Thus, despite good rainfall, agricultural activities are limited, especially in the border provinces in the Nord (northern Yatenga and Loroum), Sahel (Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha), and East (all border communes) regions. In these areas, farmland has declined between 20 and 40 percent. Declines of less than 20 percent have also been recorded in the surrounding provinces (Kossi, Sourou, Bam, Sanmatenga, Namentenga, and Comoé). In some areas with significant IDP presence, upland crop farming (millet, sorghum, and maize) is prohibited around towns and along main roads, so producers are forced to limit themselves to legume farming.

    Market cereal supply remains below average, and prices continue to trend up above average. The primary reasons for this are localized production decreases registered last season in the areas most affected by insecurity, higher-than-normal cereal exports to Niger registered before the government restriction, increased purchases by breweries and poultry feed processing plants on the local market, and an atypical drop in normal import flows from neighboring countries. In addition to the typical seasonal demand from households in areas less impacted by insecurity, there is a higher demand for IDPs receiving remittances from humanitarian actors. The government is currently strengthening cereal sales at subsidized prices (6,000 FCFA per 50-kg bag) in 208 shops across the country. This operation started in March and will continue through December 2021. Nearly 41,000 tons of cereals will be sold during this period. However, the impact of this operation on market prices is barely noticeable. Thus, in July, staple cereal prices remain high nationally compared to last year: 39 percent higher for maize, 12 percent for millet, and 19 percent for sorghum. Compared to the five-year average, prices are 28 percent higher for maize, 9 percent for millet, and 11 percent for sorghum. Increases between 40 to 50 percent compared to the five-year average have been recorded, particularly for maize on markets bordering production areas.

    Demand for livestock, particularly small ruminants, has remained satisfactory on the main livestock markets thanks to increased demand during the last Tabaski holiday. Sale rates for animals presented at market days, small ruminants in particular, reached at least 80 percent at the Kaya, Dori, Gorom-Gorom, and Djibo markets. Alongside the national demand, primary export destinations are Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, despite decreased flows compared to average and higher-than-normal transport costs due to illegal fees. Small ruminant prices are higher than the five-year average. On the livestock markets in Dori and Djibo, for example, prices are up 42 and 17 percent for rams and 51 and 71 percent for goats, respectively. Livestock/cereal terms of trade favor breeders who still have livestock after losses and destocking recorded since the beginning of the security crisis. Despite improved prices during the Tabaski period, demand for bovines remains below normal, especially for exports. 

    Since July, traders’ stocks of imported and mass-market products have decreased considerably. Cooking oils — including locally-produced cottonseed oil and palm oil imported primarily from Côte d’Ivoire and Malaysia — have experienced shortages. Compared to the average, oil prices are up by more than 33 percent, while imported rice is up approximately 16 percent. Fish and meat prices are also each up 17 percent. These increases negatively impact households’ purchasing power and diet quality, especially in urban centers where these products are consumed more.

    Facing typical stock depletion and increased staple food prices, poor households in relatively calmer areas are changing their food habits by consuming less-preferred foods or by increasing their consumption of gathered products and leafy vegetables. However, they have access to at least two meals per day and are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. In the northern part of the country, where income opportunities are limited by insecurity and pillaging, households close to the main operating markets continue to destock their herds to purchase food. IDPs and poor host households rely mostly on food assistance. This assistance has been increased during this lean season. Food distributions (cash and provisions) reached 60 percent of the population in Soum and between 25 and 30 percent of the populations in the provinces of Séno, Loroum, Ban, Sanmatenga, and Namentenga. In these areas, it helps maintain acute food insecurity at Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). On the other hand, due to increased security incidents making humanitarian access difficult, coverage has remained below 20 percent in the provinces of Yatenga, Yagha, and Komondjari. In these areas, IDPs and poor host households are exposed to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Although 40 percent of the population in Oudalan received assistance between June and July, the continued influx of IDPs is leading to greater need (11 percent increase in IDP numbers in July compared to April). Further, assistance is concentrated in the primary town in the province but is difficult to deliver to communes located along the border. Following the deterioration of livelihoods, IDPs and poor host households are increasing their negative strategies, notably begging and reducing quantities consumed and the number of meals consumed. This exposes these households to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) acute food insecurity.

    The nutritional situation for children under five continues to deteriorate, particularly in the Sahel and Centre-Nord regions, where health facilities are operating at reduced capacities or are closed, and where insecurity hinders the implementation of preventive and management measures for malnutrition. During the second quarter, compared to the first quarter, severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) cases increased by 6 and 30 percent respectively in the Sahel region, and by 23 and 45 percent respectively in the Centre-Nord region. Compared to the second quarter last year, SAM cases decreased by 17 percent in the Sahel region and by 11 percent in the Centre-Nord region. On the other hand, MAM cases have increased in both regions: 19 percent in the Sahel region and 33 percent in the Centre-Nord region.



    Changes in the national context have not fundamentally changed FEWS NET assumptions for the most likely scenario for food security between June 2021 and January 2022, except for the following updated assumptions.

    • In terms of security, unlike the respite generally observed during the rainy season, increased incidents and fatalities have been reported since May. Overall, attacks perpetrated by militant groups on civilian populations will increase at least until early 2022, reaching levels observed during the 2020 dry season (January to May) in the Est, Nord, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions.
    • Updated seasonal projections indicate a normal to early end of the season. Despite satisfactory season progress to date, an early end to the rains could negatively impact agricultural yields, especially in areas that experienced dry spells. Insecurity continues to disrupt agropastoral activities. Field access has improved in the Centre-Nord region due to reduced incidents. However, in the northern border areas (provinces of Loroum, Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha, and all provinces in the Est region) and southern communes bordering Côte d’Ivoire, farmland reductions of 30 to 50 percent compared to the average could be observed. Overall, reduced farmland, decreased yields following weed infestation in fields and/or an early end to the rains, and localized flood risks could maintain national agricultural production below or near the average from before the security crisis.  
    • Further, with the outbreak of COVID-19 variants, restrictions will likely continue in import countries, hindering trade. Stock disruptions for some mass-market products could continue, and price increases would continue to deteriorate household purchasing power, particularly in urban centers.


    As in a normal year, green harvests are starting to appear in the southern half of the country. Widespread harvests starting in October should allow households to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, particularly in regions less impacted by insecurity. In the Centre-Nord and Est regions of the country, poor households’ harvests are not likely to exceed three months of consumption. Movement restrictions and the lack of income opportunities will maintain pressure on livelihoods. Additionally, humanitarian assistance that occurs only during the lean season will decrease in October. A lack of harvests will not be enough to compensate for the loss of humanitarian assistance in most of the areas the most impacted by insecurity. In the northern and eastern border provinces, notably Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha, where over 20 percent of households did not have access to their fields for production, food assistance and the market will be the primary food sources. Asset erosion will limit market access, and IDPs and poor host households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through January 2022.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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