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Stressed acute food insecurity continues in the north of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • June 2014
Stressed acute food insecurity continues in the north of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • In the north, where acute food insecurity conditions are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), the food security situation remains more difficult than usual for poor agropastoral households in the midst of the lean season. In addition, in light of low incomes and staple food prices above the five-year average, households have limited food access and are unable to meet their livelihood protection needs.
    • However, in this part of the country, problems of getting animals to water experienced in previous months are beginning to improve with the early onset of rains, which has also led to the gradual regrowth of pasture and improved grazing and watering conditions for livestock.
    • In the rest of the country, household food access is marked by staple food prices that are near or below the five-year average and by the availability of bush products and wild foods, allowing households to experience a relatively normal lean season.

    Current Situation
    • Early cereal planting began in late April in the south and in mid-May in the north. However, the absence of rainfall between mid-May and mid-June led to localized failure of some plantings, particularly in the uplands in the south.
    • In northern agropastoral areas (Livelihood Zones 7 and 8), the availability of water following the first rains in mid-May has started to improve the animal watering problems experienced since February. Pasture is beginning to regrow in certain areas that also happen to be where large numbers of livestock are concentrated. However, the majority of livestock remain in seasonal grazing lands near the Malian border.
    • The purchasing power of households in the north remains nevertheless limited, as they must not only buy their own food but also agro-industrial byproducts to feed their animals given the lack of sufficient pasture. High domestic and foreign demand (from Niger and Mali) for these products has caused prices to rise 15 to 30 percent above the five-year average.
    • On the country's largest markets, cereal supplies are above the seasonal average. Inventories from wholesale traders and farmers’ associations, monitored by the Comité des interprofessions de céréales et de niébé du Burkina (CICB), are even 10 percent higher than last month, rising from 52,630 metric tons of cereals in April to nearly 58,000 metric tons. The increased supply is due in part to early destocking by merchants but also to imports from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire (nearly 3,200 metric tons of maize). Cereal exports are primarily sent to Niger (more than 6,200 metric tons, up 24 percent from April), while red sorghum and cowpeas are primarily exported to Ghana (800 and 1,500 metric tons, respectively).
    • In general, household demand remains average. Retail cereal prices are down slightly from last year (three to seven percent), a year when prices were unusually high. Compared to the five-year average, millet and white sorghum prices are stable, while prices of white maize, the most abundant cereal on the markets (60 percent of the supply), are down nine percent. However, staple food prices are higher than the five-year average in and around the Sahel Region, where household demand is higher. Millet and sorghum prices are approximately 10 and 7 percent higher, respectively, particularly on the markets in Dori and Djibo, which continues to make it difficult for households to access food. Large numbers of households are still buying maize being sold by the government at more affordable prices in the provincial capitals. Very poor households who cannot buy the 50-kilogram bags of cereals in the provincial capitals are buying cereals from retail merchants.
    • The main sources of current household income in the north are sales of livestock, migrant remittances, gold panning, and pastoral labor. With on-site purchase prices of gold down approximately 20 percent from the four-year average, sales of livestock have become the primary way for households to access food. Despite their poor physical condition, prices of Sahelian male goats are near the five-year average on the markets in Djibo, Dori, and Gorom-Gorom due to demand from neighboring countries (Niger, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire). Prices are still approximately 10 percent lower than last year, however. Income from pastoral labor remains in line with the average as the terms of employment between livestock owners and herders (generally cash and in-kind payments) have not changed. Remittances remain higher than usual.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation is in line with the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from April through September 2014. A full discussion of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for April through September 2014.

    Projected Outlook through September 2014

    Throughout the country, the gradual onset of the rainy season will promote the growth of bush products and wild foods and contribute to household food access, allowing households to reduce their cereal consumption as usual.

    In areas in and around the Sahel Region, grazing and watering conditions for livestock will improve with the regrowth of pasture, allowing transhumant livestock herds to return and helping to increase milk production for consumption and sale beginning in July. In this part of the country, staple cereal prices will remain relatively high, with households wholly dependent on markets. Demand for millet will increase even more during the observance of Ramadan, causing prices to rise. Household purchasing power will therefore remain limited, and poor households will continue to have difficulty meeting their livelihood protection needs and will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity through September.

    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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