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Crisis in small parts of extreme north likely to harm livelihoods

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • March 2015
Crisis in small parts of extreme north likely to harm livelihoods

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Very poor households in the far northern parts of the country currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity will face food consumption gaps starting in April with the depletion of their food stocks and without large enough incomes to maintain their food access on local markets, particularly in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougoum, and Tin-Akoff. 

    • Very poor and poor households in other municipalities in the Sahelian region and surrounding areas are also having difficulty protecting their livelihoods due to their need to raise larger than usual amounts of income to purchase food supplies as well as animal feed to maintain their livestock herds facing a pasture deficit for the second consecutive year. 

    • Household food consumption in the rest of the country is normal, bolstered by adequate market supplies of staple foods and price levels close to or below the five-year average.

    Current Situation
    • With the below-normal harvest and sharp decline in the prices of livestock (their main source of income), very poor and poor households have become market depedant earlier than usual (since last December) and have been more dependant on market purchases more than usual.
    • To cope with this situation, households are ramping up their gold mining activities to augment their incomes. In addition, the flow of short-term seasonal migration to large urban areas has increased. Cash remittances from migrants, which are normally the main source of income for at least eight percent of households in Oudalan province, will be in high demand by household members remaining in their home villages.
    • Sales of livestock in general and of small ruminants in particular are the main source of household income in this part of the country, especially in the case of very poor and poor households. However, selling prices for animals are 10 to 30 percent below average due to their poorer-than-usual physical condition and the larger-than-usual numbers of animals sold off by households hoping to generate additional income for cereal purchases for household consumption and the purchasing of animal feed to maintain a core herd. Supplies of goats and sheep, for example, are above the five-year average by 77 percent and 21 percent, respectively, on the Djibo market and by 10 percent and nine percent, respectively, on the Gorom Gorom market.
    • The regular flow of supplies to cereal markets from crop-producing areas in the western part of the country and major food commodity collectionmarkets (Ouagadougou and Pouytenga) and ongoing government-subsidized sales of maize are helping to keep prices for staple foods (millet and sorghum) close to the five-year average. However, millet prices on the Dori and Sebba markets are above the five-year average by 14 and 20 percent, respectively, where there have been atypical rises (of from nine to 26 percent) in the prices of maize, millet, and sorghum since February 2015.
    • Income levels from the sale of market garden crops, cash crops (peanuts, sesame, cowpeas, and bissap or hibiscus), and forest products (shea nuts and locust beans) by very poor and poor households in other parts of the country are close to or above the five-year average. Markets in these areas have large supplies of crops compared with overall normal demand. As a result, sorghum and millet prices are on par with or six to 15 percent below the five-year average. On average, maize prices have come down by 12 percent, with reports of price drops of over 20 percent on the Sankaryaré (Ouagadougou), Niénéta (Bobo-Dioulasso), and Solenzo markets, which is helping to improve household food access. 

    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

    Thus far, there have been no significant assistance programs for very poor and poor households in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff. With their reduced food consumption and loss of assets as a result of their atypically large sales of livestock, these households will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as of April, while households in other municipalities in and around the Sahelian region (livelihood zones 7 and 8) will face Stressed (PC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity. There should be no further change in the situation between now and the end of the usual lean season late in September. In fact, even with the steady deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereals through the month of August (with cereal prices on the rise and livestock prices on the decline), earnings from gold mining activities through the month of June, income from short-term seasonal and longer-term migration with the return of migrant workers in June-July in anticipation of 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 irreversibly damaging their livelihood strategies and assets. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year


    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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