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Acute food insecurity remains a concern in extreme northern areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • June 2015
Acute food insecurity remains a concern in extreme northern areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • After being completely dependent on market purchase for their food supplies for three months, poor households in the far northern reaches of the country (in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff) are faced with the premature erosion of their livestock assets and food consumption deficits. Household food insecurity has reached Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • Pastoral conditions in the north, particularly in Oudalan province and surrounding areas, are a source of concern, where there is a complete lack of pasture, the last remaining surface watering holes have run dry, animals are in very poor physical shape, and there are three to five times the usual number of animal deaths and emergency slaughters.

    • The growing season is getting off to an early start in certain parts of Séno and Soum provinces (in the Sahelian region), with the light rainfall at the end of May and the beginning of June triggering crop planting activities. However, the poor rainfall conditions in the western and southern part of the country where the growing season normally starts before June 15th are still preventing most farmers in these areas from starting to plant crops. 

    Current Situation
    • The food security situation of very poor and poor households in and around Oudalan province (livelihood zone 8) is forcing them to cut back their daily meals and limiting their dietary diversity. Their livelihood strategies and assets are sharply eroded and their main source of income (the sale of small ruminants) has been severely undermined, with their animals losing 30 to 50 percent of their normal value. As a result, these households are forced to resort to eating maize, sorghum, or rice, which are considered less expensive than millet, their normal food of choice.
    • Pastoral conditions in the northern part of the country are extremely worrisome, particularly in Oudalan province where pastures are virtually nonexistent and the last remaining surface watering holes such as the Béli River (a seasonal river) and Oursi Lake (a seasonal lake) have run dry. There are reportedly high livestock mortality rates and larger than usual numbers of emergency slaughters.
    • In any event, there are still adequate market supplies of cereals and price levels are close to the five-year average. The government is continuing to regularly stock sales outlets in provincial capitals selling cereals at subsidized prices. However, the persistently high demand in the Sahelian region requires a steadier flow of supplies. There is also a very strong market demand for animal feed (agro-industrial byproducts) in this region, though prices are at least 30 percent above the five-year average.
    • Households in other parts of the country are in the initial stages of a normal lean season. The relatively good availability of forest products (shea nuts, grapes, carob beans, etc.) is helping to improve household diets. Cereal prices are close to the five-year average, though maize prices in major crop-producing areas are reportedly up from last month by 10 to 30 percent. This rise in prices is due in part to the response from traders to institutional procurement notices for the replenishment of national security stocks.
    • According to the Ministry of Animal Resources, the new bird flu outbreak in March 2015, with 24 outbreak sites in ten different regions, will be successfully contained by government measures designed to control the spread of the disease in previous outbreak areas. Moreover, according to the same source, the start of the rainy season across the country coyuld put an end to the outbreak.
    • The erratic, poorly distributed rainfall activity as of June 15th is putting crop planting activities in the western and southern part of the country behind schedule. However, there are reports of earlier than usual crop planting activities in parts of the Sahelian region other than the far north, and there is some localized new pasture growth.

    Updated Assumptions

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

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    As usual, staple cereal prices will peak between July and September, driven by a growing household demand, though price levels will stay close-to-average. Moreover, the early to normal new pasture growth in pastoral areas of the Sahelian region (other than in the far north) will help improve the physical condition and selling prices of livestock for pastoral households, while the start of the growing season will help provide a normal supply of wild plant products. Thus, barring any outside shocks, very poor and poor households in the municipalities of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while households in other municipalities in the Sahelian region and surrounding areas (livelihood zones 7 and 8) will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in 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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