Food Security Outlook Update

Three communes in the extreme north currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes

February 2015
2015-Q1-1-1-BF-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • An earlier-than-normal exhaustion of food stocks and a near-total lack of forage for livestock are forcing many poor households in the far northern areas of the country (livelihood zone 8) to intensify their short-term seasonal labor migration and gold mining activities much more than usual as a source of income generation. There are earlier and larger than usual herd movements of transhumant livestock to seasonal grazing areas.

  • Poor households in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff are already experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes and prices for staple cereals and animal feed are especially high. Household income levels, based primarily on the sale of livestock, are below the five-year average due to the atypically low animal prices.

  • In the rest of the country, staple food supply, particularly for cereals, is above average on most markets and there is weak household demand. On the whole, this is keeping prices for these commodities close to the five-year average.

Current Situation

  • Except in the far northern areas of the country (livelihood zone 8), most poor households are still relying on own production for their food, which has reduced market demand by 50 percent, while cereal supplies are at least 40 percent above average.
  • In major crop production areas, notably western areas of the country, farm-gate prices are near the five-year average for millet and sorghum, and are 10 percent below the five-year average for maize. This is more than likely due to the current market environment in which the main focus is on the collection and marketing of cash crops such as cowpeas, sesame, and groundnuts and local products such as shea nuts and locust beans destined for export.
  • In spite of below-normal harvests in northern agropastoral areas (livelihood zones 7 and 8) due to poor rainfall performance, cereal prices in these areas are still generally close to the five-year average. However, on certain markets prices are above the five-year average. This is especially true in Bogandé market, where millet and sorghum prices are 11 percent above the five-year average, and the Sebba market, where millet and sorghum are trading at prices above the five-year average by 25 and 15 percent, respectively. Otherwise, the general quasi price stability in this part of the country is due to the good level of market supplies from major crop-producing areas.
  • The pasture deficit in this part of the country (particularly in Séno and Oudalan provinces) is creating increasingly poor grazing conditions for livestock. To mitigate the impact of this pasture deficit on local livestock, seasonal herd movements by transhumant livestock to southern areas of the country or Mali increased earlier than usual, beginning in December. There are growing market supplies of livestock, particularly small ruminants, most of which are in poorer than usual physical condition. For example, supplies of goats on the Djibo and Gorom-Gorom markets are above the five-year average by 77 and 10 percent, respectively. Supplies of sheep on these same markets are also above the five-year average by 21 and nine percent, respectively. This has driven livestock prices below the five-year average by 10 to 30 percent, eroding terms of trade for livestock/cereals. These sales of livestock are generally intended to finance purchases of cereals for household consumption, but are also allowing households to purchase animal feed used to maintain sedentary livestock herds.
  • Poor households in the far northern communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff (livelihood zone 8) are currently in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as a result of the grain-eating bird infestations and mediocre rainfall conditions putting crop production well below the five-year average. The result is an uncharacteristically large flow of short-term seasonal labor migration to large urban areas and heavier than usual recourse to gold mining activities. Another common practice by area households is to cut back their two or three daily meals to one or two meals a day.

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from January through June 2015. A full discussion of the scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2015.

Projected Outlook through June 2015

As projected in the Food Security Outlook, very poor and poor households in the municipalities of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as of March, while households in other municipalities in and around the Sahelian region (livelihood zones 7 and 8) will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity. There should be no further erosion in their food security situation between now and the end of the usual lean season, at the end of September. In fact, though terms of trade for livestock/cereals will steadily decline through the end of August (with cereal prices on the rise and livestock prices on the decline), income generation from gold-mining activities through the end of June, migrant remittances and earnings from short-term seasonal labor migration by migrant workers returning in June-July with the normal start of the growing season, and the improvement in milk availability as of August should enable households to meet their basic food needs without resorting to the use of coping strategies irreversibly depleting their livelihood assets. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

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