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Early depletion of food stocks for poor households in the north of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • March 2014
Early depletion of food stocks 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
    • Food access for poor households in the northern part of the country will deteriorate over the next few months with the earlier than usual depletion of their food stocks, the rising prices of staple foods, and the falling prices for livestock. These agropastoral households will face Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) by the beginning of April.
    • Particularly in the country’s northern agropastoral zone, livestock prices are down compared to last year and terms of trade for livestock-cereals are weaker than usual. This comes at a time when livestock sales are becoming the main recourse for poor households.
    • Poor households in most parts of the country are increasingly market-dependent, though they are still generally maintaining a normal diet owing to an adequate market supply of staple foods. Even households in deficit areas of the Sahelian region and its vicinity experienced Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) through the end of March.

    Current Situation
    • According to the report by the Food Security Forecasting Committee (CPSA), the final cereal production figure for the 2013/2014 growing season as of the month of March is 4.86 million metric tons, which is 15 percent above the five-year average and comparable to last year’s figure.  This above-average volume of production is primarily a result of good maize production, which is nearly 40 percent above-average, while production for other staple cereal crops (millet and sorghum) is near average.
    • However, even in an average year, 39 to 45 percent of households do not produce enough to meet their needs through the end of the consumption year in September. This is especially true in and around the Sahelian region, where the food stocks this year of very poor and poor households are very low, if not completely depleted, two months earlier than usual. Market purchase for these households has become more significant this year than in a typical year.
    • There are good market supplies of crops and trader inventories (47,000 metric tons as of the end of February at the wholesale level) are more than 50 percent larger than usual. These inventories have generally been built up in anticipation of ongoing institutional procurements. However, continuing cereal sales (mainly maize) by the government at affordable prices are helping to strengthen the cereal access of poor households.
    • Thus, in general, cereal prices are five to 10 percent lower than they were last year. Maize prices are seven percent below the five-year average, while millet prices are seven percent above the five-year average and sorghum prices are on par with the average. However, prices for sorghum and millet (the two main staple cereals) in northern agropastoral areas reporting shortfalls in crop production (in and around the Sahelian region) are above the five-year average by 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
    • The main sources of income sustaining the food access of very poor and poor households in areas in and around the Sahelian region are livestock sales, gold panning activities, and migrant remittances. Prices for livestock (small ruminants) are down from last year due to their poor physical condition as a result of the shortage of pasture resources, though prices for male sheep and goats are still above the five-year average by 6 and 27 percent, respectively. In spite of these above-average prices, terms of trade for livestock-cereals are nine percent below the five-year average due to the rising prices of staple cereals. Income from gold panning activities is at a four-year low due to falling price of gold. However, political stability and the lifting of controls on free movement of workers in host countries for migrant labor (mainly Côte d’Ivoire) are helping to facilitate migrant worker integration into the local economy and boost cash remittances to their families back home.

    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

    The growing dependence of very poor and poor households on market purchase for their food supplies and the response of traders to institutional procurements of cereal crops will put more pressure on markets and trigger unusually sharp rises in prices which, until now, have been in line with normal trends. The limited stream of household income at this time of year will lead to livelihood protection deficits by the beginning of May, particularly for very poor households in Soum, Séno, and Oudalan provinces. The deterioration in terms of trade for livestock-cereals will force households in this agropastoral area to cut essential nonfood spending. In addition, animal feeding and watering problems between April and June will degrade the physical condition of livestock and limit household milk consumption and access to income from milk sales.

    Thus, very poor and poor households in areas in and around the Sahelian region will have a limited ability to meet their basic food needs and will be only minimally able to engage in essential nonfood spending. These households will be facing Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) beginning in April. Barring any further shocks, these conditions could prevail through the end of the consumption year in September.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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