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Normal lean season for poor households

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • June 2013
Normal lean season for poor households

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Compared to a normal year, very poor and poor households are currently less reliant on market purchases to meet their food consumption needs. While household food stocks from last year’s harvests are depleting, at least 80 percent of these households are consuming a normal two meals per day and are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    • In contrast to normal seasonal trends, food prices have been stable or have been declining over the last month. Though prices are generally six to 12 percent above the five-year average, poor households are not expected to have difficulty accessing food through market purchases between now and the end of the lean season in September.

    • In certain areas of the country, the rains began earlier than normal in mid-April, improving the food and water access for small ruminants. As a result, livestock body conditions are currently above-average, which is helping to strengthen terms of trade for pastoralists. 


    Current Situation
    • Markets are currently well-stocked compared to a normal year. Meanwhile, household demand on local markets for staple foods (millet and sorghum) has been weak. For at least 80 percent of very poor and poor households, their primary source of food is still their own food stocks from last year’s above-normal harvests. This compares to a normal year when household food stocks usually deplete by April or May.
    • With market grain supplies currently greater than demand, grain prices have been stable or in decline (by less than eight percent) compared to last month. However in FEWS NET’s areas of concern in the Sahelian region (livelihood zones 7 and 8), millet and sorghum prices on major markets (Djibo, Dori, and Gorom-Gorom) are up two to 29 percent compared to the five-year average. Trade flows between highly correlated markets continue at normal levels, although there have been reports of unusually large grain exports to Niger via Seytenga.
    • On the Djibo, Dori, and Gorom-Gorom markets, livestock prices, particularly for small ruminants, are 17 percent above the five-year average. This is due to good rainfall levels in 2012, which produced favorable pastoral resources and enabled livestock to remain in good physical condition this year. As usual for this time of the year, terms of trade are still in favor of pastoralists, with the sale of a Sahelian male goat on the markets mentioned above enabling the purchase of 137 to 218 kg of millet. Markets are functioning normally with the primary international and domestic destinations for livestock including Ghana, Côte-d’Ivoire, Niger, and Burkina Faso’s own Pouytenga and Ouagadougou markets. Good market supplies of animal feed (agro-industrial byproducts) have also been noted. These products are selling for 5,500 to 6,000 FCFA per 50 kg sack, which is a 20 to 30 percent decline compared to last year and a 10 to 15 percent decline compared to the five-year average. These price declines are due to weak demand for animal feed as pastoral conditions are still above average.  
    • Two important source of household income in the areas of concern in northern Burkina Faso (livelihood zones 7 and 8) are livestock product sales and gold washing activities. As usual, supply of milk is limited at this time of the year. However, demand has been high due to the presence of Malian refugees, for whom milk is a major food source. Consequently, milk prices are above normal in these areas, currently selling for 500 FCFA compared to 300 FCFA in a normal year. Onsite at small-scale gold washing operations, a gram of gold is selling for at least 20,000 FCFA, which is similar to the three-year average. Certain households are choosing to use their relatively normal incomes this year to purchase grains on local markets and then save their own food stocks for later to better deal with the upcoming lean season between July and September.
    • Ongoing humanitarian programs in the areas of concern (livelihood zones 7 and 8 in the Sahelian region) are also helping local households either reduce their market dependency or improve their market access. In addition to the food assistance provided by the World Food Program (WFP) to 49,975 Malian refugees within Burkina Faso, there are cash-for-work programs serving 8,800 poor households (by the WFP and Oxfam), food voucher programs serving 1,124 households (by the Red Cross) and direct distributions of three-month food rations to 1,500 households hosting refugees (by the Red Cross). In addition, as part of efforts to help prevent acute malnutrition, 6,000 children under the age of five and 1,200 pregnant or breast-feeding women are receiving monthly food rations from the WFP. There are also blanket feeding programs for 22,117 children between the ages of six to 23 months planned for the June to October period and at least 885 metric tons of community food stocks which are scheduled to be sold at subsidized prices during the lean season.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for April through September 2013. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • Given a large market supply of grain, below-average market demand, and ongoing food assistance programs, sorghum and maize prices will not likely rise as rapidly as previously projected in the April Outlook. Rather prices for these commodities will likely stabilize or increase slightly (to five to 10 percent above the five-year average). With a growing demand for millet during the month-long observance of Ramadan (in July), millet prices could rise by 10 to 15 percent.
    • In the April Outlook, FEWS NET assumed that pasture and livestock conditions would be poor through the end of June, in line with normal seasonal trends. However, the early April rains considerably improved access to water for livestock during the April to June period. In addition, these rains helped spur new pasture growth in localized areas, which has also contributed to above-normal livestock body conditions. 

    Projected Outlook through December 2013

    Good market grain supplies at slightly above-average prices, as well as an improvement in livestock feeding and watering conditions, food and nonfood assistance programs in areas of concern, good income levels, and the availability of wild plant products beginning in August, will all likely help to facilitate household food access. As a result, the food security situation of very poor and poor households across the country between July and September should be similar to a normal year, producing Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for 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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