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Limited incomes for poor households in the north of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • February 2014
Limited incomes for poor households in the north of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • In general, household food stocks and purchasing power are ensuring normal food consumption by poor households. However, poor households in the Sahelian region and surrounding areas are limiting their spending. These conditions will prevail through the end of March, during which time there will be Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1).
    • By April, if not sooner, the depletion of household food stocks and the reliance on market purchasing at a time when household incomes are limited will undermine food access, particularly for poor households in areas in and around the Sahelian region, who will face Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) through June, and through the end of the consumption year in September.
    • There has been an atypical upward trend in cereal prices since December on markets in the Sahelian region, while livestock prices are on the decline. As households become more dependent on purchasing to meet their needs, they will find it difficult to afford market prices in the face of limited incomes.

    Current Situation
    • Harvest stocks continue to be the main household source of food and, in general, are ensuring normal food consumption. However, there is a tendency on the part of poor households with limited food stocks in areas of the Northern and Sahelian regions and the northern reaches of the Eastern and North-Central regions to reduce their food intake. Middle-income and better-off households in areas in and around the Sahelian region (livelihood zones 7 and 8) are reportedly buying cereals on the market in anticipation of future price increases. Very poor and poor households whose food stocks are low if not completely depleted are already buying cereal for immediate consumption, two months earlier than usual.
    • Low incomes for poor households with limited food stocks in northern areas are limiting their food access, particularly to staples such as millet and sorghum. In some cases, they access maize at subsidized prices in shops established by the government. The main sources of income for this group of households are sales of livestock, gold panning activities, and migrant labor remittances. Concerning their income from gold panning activities, the sale price of a gram of gold has fallen to as low as 25 percent below-average. Moreover, productive gold panning sites are being reclaimed by mine prospecting companies, which is limiting the physical access of local populations to these sites in certain areas.
    • Prices for livestock in pastoral areas (the Sahelian region in particular) are also down from last year (by 12 percent for male sheep and nine percent for male goats). In general, prices for male sheep are on par with the five-year average and prices for male goats are slightly above the five-year average by no more than nine percent. These lower prices are a result of the poor physical condition of livestock due to the shortage of pasture. In addition, larger needs for cash with which to purchase food supplies and/or animal feed are forcing households to sell their livestock on the market at lower prices. Moreover, the depreciation of the Ghanaian Cedi against the Franc CFA is not likely to encourage purchasing by Ghanaian traders, who are the main buyers of livestock.
    • The incomes of poor households in Soum and Oudalan provinces from certain sources, such as sales of bush products, are rather low this year due to the poor distribution of rainfall, which kept these plants from fully maturing or reduced yields.
    • Poor households in areas of concern in and around the Sahel are highly dependent on seasonal migration income. There is a larger flow of out-migration to regular destinations like Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and large cities (Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso) to make up for the poor harvests and reduction in income from gold panning activities in these areas.
    • Prices on cereal markets show little if any movement from last year due to good market supplies, as well as to the subsidized cereal sales by government-operated charter shops. However, millet prices on markets in the Sahelian region are up by 6 to 10 percent. Prices for millet and sorghum are above the five-year average by an average of 17 and 9 percent, respectively. As far as current price trends are concerned, prices have been on the rise since December. Millet and sorghum prices on the Djibo and Dori markets (in livelihood zone 7) are up by 10 to 26 percent and millet prices on the Gorom-Gorom market (in livelihood zone 8) are up by 8 percent.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2014. An in-depth examination of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2014.

    Projected Outlook through June 2014

    There could be unusually sharp rises in cereal prices over the next few months, particularly in areas in and around the Sahelian region, driven by high demand and the depletion of household food stocks, making households with limited incomes increasingly reliant on market purchase. The expected poor grazing and animal watering conditions between now and the end of June will cause the physical condition of livestock to deteriorate. This will prompt households to sell more of their animals on the market, driving down livestock prices. As a result, pastoral and agropastoral households could be facing a steady deterioration in terms of trade for livestock-cereals.

    The food access of very poor and poor households in areas in and around the Sahelian region will be more restricted than usual. They will minimize their essential non-food expenditure between April and June and through the end of the consumption year in September as they face Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2).

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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