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Widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) anticipated in northern Burkina Faso during the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burkina Faso
  • February - September 2024
Widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) anticipated in northern Burkina Faso during the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • After two years under blockade, a sustained humanitarian response remains essential in Djibo and northern Burkina Faso
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Area of Concern: Soum Province of the Sahel Region, Livelihood Zone BF07: North and East Livestock and Cereals (Figure 5)
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Annex on the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Burkina Faso
  • Key Messages
    • The security situation remains worrying in inaccessible communes in the north of the country. However, households are benefiting from a wider security radius compared to last year, allowing them to access marginal income opportunities from collecting and selling firewood, selling water, engaging in vegetable production, and gold panning. These communes have also benefited from market supply escorts over the past three months, and food aid has also been increased since December. This has improved food availability and household food consumption, reducing the number of households facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). However, IDPs and poor host households continue to limit the number and size of meals consumed on a daily basis, and are therefore facing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. In the absence of planned humanitarian assistance, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are most likely between March and September.
    • In the commune of Djibo, although key informants report an increase in remittances and vegetable crops compared to last year, food and income from these activities remain well below what is necessary to sustain lives and livelihoods. Thus, the majority of the population remains dependent on food aid provided by helicopters or intermittent military convoys. Although key informants indicate a slight recovery in petty trade when convoys arrive in the city, most livelihood activities remain limited. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected until September.
    • At the national level, the market for agricultural products continues to be impacted by disruptions of internal flows. The persistence of security risks on certain road axes, although reduced compared to 2023, makes it difficult to access certain production areas and transfer agricultural products to consumption zones. Overall, staple food price levels are similar to those of the same period last year but remain above the five-year average. Across the country, prices are expected to move above their seasonal averages between March and September, putting pressure on the purchasing power of poor households. 
    • FEWS NET has determined that the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) during this projection period (February to September 2024) is low due to higher vegetable production around the Djibo dam compared to last year, the expansion of the security radius around the city, which allows households to collect more wild foods, the establishment of small supply chains into the city by traders, and increased remittances to Djibo. Thus, in the event that humanitarian food aid is disrupted, the probability of the population experiencing extreme food consumption gaps before food aid reaches Djibo is low. However, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes remain most likely, given the depletion of most sources of income and persistent consumption gaps. These outcomes will worsen during the lean season, with an expansion of areas in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across the northern part of the country, as well as an increase in populations in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the most inaccessible areas.

    After two years under blockade, a sustained humanitarian response remains essential in Djibo and northern Burkina Faso

    Figure 1

    Humanitarian access map for Burkina Faso, February 2024
    Carte de niveau d’accès humanitaire au Burkina Faso, février 2024

    Source: FEWS NET, with data from the Food Security Cluster, WFP, Early Warning System, ACLED

    The ongoing conflict in the north and east of Burkina Faso continues to lead to high levels of severe food insecurity. Incursions by armed terrorist groups (GATs) continue to cause a high number of displacements and to deprive several localities of access to their usual sources of food and income. OCHA estimates that, in addition to the official figures dating back to March 2023, there were approximately 700,000 new displacements throughout the year, along with around 300,000 cases of returns reported by the government. Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) continues to restrict the movement of civilians and control major supply routes, with the aim of consolidating their territorial gains in the Sahel, Centre-Nord, Nord, and Est regions. They are also trying to extend their control over smuggling routes and strengthen funding sources from agricultural production zones, notably in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Hauts-Bassins, and Centre-Est regions. As a result, there remain around thirty communes where movement is restricted, market supplies depend on military escorts, and humanitarian access is severely limited (Figure 1).

    For two years now, the commune of Djibo has been accessible only by military escort or by air. Furthermore, market supplies under escort remain irregular. The last road convoy, which took place on December 6, occurred six months after the previous one. Apart from maize, which is available in low quantities, key informants report the onset of shortages of basic commodities and an increase in speculative market practices. Although the prices of staples have stabilized around the five-year average, they remain double the prices before the imposition of the blockade (Figure 2). 

    According to key informants, marginal harvests from the last rainy season have been depleted as of December. Approximately 30 percent of households engage in dry season production on the accessible outskirts of the dam. With the presence of assistance, vegetable production is mainly sold or exchanged for other essential products. Although the demand for water from the dam is lower than normal due to livestock asset losses and reduced construction of housing, the water level is low compared to the previous season due to poor rainfall during the 2023 season. Local technical services estimate that the area occupied by vegetable production is about 36 hectares. Key informants indicate that a proportion of vegetable products are now sold on the market and provide an additional source of income for households. However, with the low water level in the dam, it is likely that water will not be sufficient between April and June, causing already marginal production activities to be further reduced, thereby depriving a higher number of the population of this source.

    Figure 2

    Millet prices in Djibo from January 2018 to January 2024 compared to the 2018-2022 average
    Prix de mil à Djibo de janvier 2018 à janvier 2024 compare à la moyenne de 2018-2022

    Source: FEWS NET

    Key informants indicate that the majority of the population of Djibo depends on humanitarian aid as their main source of food. However, emergency humanitarian assistance remains precarious in a volatile security environment with logistical and financial challenges related to the delivery of aid by helicopter. Following its suspension in mid-October 2023, humanitarian aid flights to Djibo resumed in early January. While estimates based on official population figures of March 2023 suggested WFP humanitarian aid coverage of around 16 to 20 percent of the population of Djibo, with a ration of 50 to 75 percent of monthly needs, key informants indicate that a greater proportion of the population depends on humanitarian aid as their main source of food. This is likely due to the decrease in the base population of Djibo and the internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as the sharing of aid by the beneficiary population. In addition to WFP deliveries, the convoy escorted by the military that reached Djibo in December included approximately 550 tons of food items intended for free distribution between December and February. According to key informants, to cope with the volatile environment in which humanitarian aid must be delivered and to guard against potential disruptions in aid delivery, households adopt management and resilience strategies such as reducing the quantity of food and the number of meals. This allows them to extend the duration of stocks received from aid beyond normal periods.

    Following Defense and Security Forces (FDS) and Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) offensives in the area since November, the security radius around the city of Djibo has expanded from 1 to 3 km to 10 to 15 km, providing more opportunities for collecting firewood and some wild foods. However, threats of attack by armed terrorist groups persist, and populations continue to limit their movements outside the city. With the restoration of the telephone network, households have more recourse to remittances from migrants, but these remittances are not sufficient to build up stocks given the shortages or the high prices of commodities. 

    Since February 2023, FEWS NET has warned that Djibo has been facing a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) based on the moderate probability that a scenario could materialize in which an interruption of humanitarian aid by helicopter and a lack of market supply by convoy would further reduce the marginal quantities of food available to households. However, for the projection period from February to September 2024, FEWS NET believes that the probability of a scenario in which Famine emerges is low (see annex). The slight increase in the security perimeter around Djibo has made it possible to expand the collection of wild foods and wood for sale. In addition, improved access to cash transfers allows households to purchase food from the market in the event of a disruption in food aid. Finally, operations to secure key axes in northern Burkina Faso, as well as an easing of the blockade around Djibo, have reduced the likelihood that a suspension of humanitarian aid by helicopter will coincide with a prolonged lack of market supply convoys.

    It is important to keep in mind that the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) pertains to a credible alternative scenario. The most likely scenario for FEWS NET remains largely unchanged. Reducing both the number and size of meals to one per day, as well as limiting adults’ portion sizes in favor of children, remain the most widespread strategies. Although maize is not a preferred staple for the population, the daily meal typically consists of maize paired with leafy vegetables. As a result, visible signs of malnutrition persist among the population. Given the precariousness of food sources and the lack of several sources of income and the persistent gaps in the population's consumption, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes remain most likely until September, with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and atypically high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality expected.

    Although Djibo remains an area of concern in Burkina Faso, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected across northern Burkina Faso during the lean season as armed groups continue to exercise control over key supply routes and cut off access to communities across the country. Urgent humanitarian aid is needed at levels higher than those currently provided to save lives and livelihoods, particularly in the provinces of Loroum, Soum, Oudalan, Seno, and Yagha. 


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Security situation: The country's security situation continues to give cause for concern. Nationally, the number of security incidents recorded over the last three months has remained similar to levels observed a year ago, but the loss of life associated with these events has increased by 88 percent over the same period (ACLED data) due to increased large-scale confrontations. The successes recorded by the FDS/VDP in recent months have made it possible for some IDPs to return to their original localities (Sanmatenga, Zondoma, Nayala, Koulpélogo, Yatenga provinces) and to widen the security radius around certain localities (Djibo, Arbinda, Gorom-Gorom, Sebba), thus offering more possibility of access to marginal sources of income such as vegetable production and gold panning. However, armed terrorist groups continue to attack civilian populations, making access difficult for a large number of localities in the Sahel, Nord, Centre-Nord, Est, and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. Supply to these areas is possible only through military escorts or aerial supplies. Traders continue to be cautious about their movements, and the flow of goods between production areas and deficit areas remains limited. 

    Dry season production: This season, the timely provision of inputs to farmers, as well as the development and securing of certain production sites in the Nord, Centre-Nord, Cascades, and Hauts-Bassins regions, has led to an increase in cultivated areas compared to the previous year. However, these areas remain below the typical levels prior to the security crisis. The seasonal increase in the supply of vegetable products in the markets at this time is a testament to the impact of this support. However, in addition to limited access for producers to certain production sites due to insecurity in the Nord, Boucle du Mouhoun, and Sahel regions, the high cost of inputs and fuel supply disruptions for the operation of water pumps, among other factors, are limiting production activity. In addition, the decline in the use of sites by buyers leads to difficulties in selling products and contributes to reducing producers' incomes, particularly in areas that are difficult to access due to insecurity

    Sources of income: Among the coping strategies developed by households to meet their basic needs, exodus and migration occupy an important place. Population movements have increased in recent months from areas with major access constraints in the north and east towards the south and west of the country, or towards coastal countries. Although there are no official figures, key informants indicate that many households in blocked areas rely on transfers from migrants. They estimate that between 30 and 50 percent of households in these areas receive at least one money transfer per month, even though the amounts remain insufficient to meet market needs due to high levels of commodity prices. Overall, access to typical sources of income is limited. Limited access to gold panning sites, difficulties in collecting non-timber forest products, firewood, and charcoal, and declining livestock sales have resulted in a significant drop in income from the sale of these products. Furthermore, the decrease in cotton, sesame, cowpea, and soybean production compared to the five-year average is negatively impacting income derived from the sale of these products, despite prices being slightly higher than the five-year average. In addition, market malfunctioning and reduced trade flows contribute to further reducing income from trade in agricultural products.

    Figure 3

    Map of market operations, Liptako Gourma, January 2024
    Carte de fonctionnement des marchés, Liptako Gourma, janvier 2024

    Source: FEWS NET

    Market operations: At the national level, agricultural markets are characterized by a supply considered satisfactory but lower than February 2023 levels and the average. Local declines in production and the malfunctioning of trade flows, which limit market supplies, explain this fall in supply. Furthermore, the purchasing power of some traders does not allow them to build up stocks given the high costs of collecting and transporting products.

    Internal flows are impacted by the security situation, which reduces the quantities of food transferred from production areas to consumption areas while prolonging supply delays and increasing the number of areas requiring military escort (Figure 3). External trade is affected not only by the security situation but also by measures banning cereal exports for certain countries (Burkina, Mali) and all foodstuffs for Côte d'Ivoire. Inputs of maize from Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, and Ghana are reported but at reduced volumes compared to normal. Outflows of cereals are mainly to Niger. Peanut outflows to Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are also recorded. 

    Overall cereal demand is decreasing compared to the previous year and the average. Most of the demand is from the government for replenishing public stocks and from humanitarian NGOs for food assistance to vulnerable populations, including internally displaced persons and host households. The demand from livestock businesses is decreasing because large-scale breeders increasingly have agricultural operations to feed their livestock or poultry in order to reduce costs associated with their activity. Furthermore, due to poor purchasing power linked to the country's economic situation, households are reducing their reliance on the market for their food supply. In the areas with limited access in the north of the country, where market operations are disrupted, poor households primarily depend on food aid, which affects their reliance on the market.

    The consumer prices of major cereals and imported rice were nationally lower in January 2024 compared to the same period the previous year. However, these prices remain above average. Respective five-year increases of 22 percent, 32 percent, and 37 percent were recorded for maize, millet, and sorghum. The price of local and imported rice is up 20 percent on average.

    Livestock markets operations continue to be negatively impacted by the security situation. In the north of the country, the supply of livestock is low or non-existent due to the erosion of household holdings and the closure or minimum functioning of markets. In relatively accessible areas, supply and demand are up on last year and the average. The markets of Fada, Kaya, Bobo-Dioulasso, and Pouytenga are the main areas where livestock is redirected due to difficulties in accessing other markets. Prices are volatile from one locality to another. The biggest annual drop was 24 percent recorded on the price of goats in Dori in Seno province, and the biggest increase was 49 percent, recorded in Yilou in Bam province for sheep.

    Food aid: The need for food aid is increasing due to the high number of IDPs, the early depletion of self-produced stocks, and the loss of assets related to household livelihoods in areas with high security challenges. However, the delivery of aid still faces logistical, security, and financial difficulties. Escorted convoys or air transport of food remain essential for delivering food aid in the 30 inaccessible zones, with an average land resupply delay of three months. However, since December 2023, aid has been primarily conducted in the communes of Djibo, Arbinda, Kelbo, Gorom-Gorom, and Sebba, and key informants indicate that it reaches a large portion of the population. Some NGOs have even opted for distributions of three to six months of rations, especially in Gorom-Gorom. Others rely on local traders for the delivery of voucher programs. However, aid remains low, particularly in the provinces of Kompienga and Kossi, and IDPs and host households face difficulties accessing the market due to their low income and the high prices of food items.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Households living in hard-to-reach areas in the north of the country face weak and irregular market supply. Access to usual sources of income remains limited, and households are facing the erosion of their assets. Although local vegetable production helps alleviate food difficulties, populations in these areas do not have access to basic commodities in markets and are mostly dependent on food aid. Due to the irregularity of this aid and to avoid food shortages, households adopt coping strategies to extend the duration of the stocks received. Reducing the number and size of meals consumed and reducing adult consumption for the benefit of children are among the strategies adopted by IDPs and poor host households. In the communes of Sebba, Gorom-Gorom, Markoye, Djibo, Arbinda, and Kelbo, food aid has been distributed since December, reaching at least half of the population and covering at least 50 percent of their needs, helping to reduce extreme consumption gaps and the number of people facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Although visible signs of malnutrition are still widespread, key informants report that cases of starvation are now rare. Similarly, cases of begging or households spending an entire day and night without food have become low and infrequent. In these communes, IDPs and poor hosts are experiencing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. In the commune of Titao (Loroum province), market gardening is an important source of food for the majority of households. However, poor sales of products due to the lack of buyers in the area have significantly decreased households’ incomes, which remain insufficient for purchasing basic cereals on the market. As a result, poor households are forced to resort to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) strategies for their consumption. 

    In the other communes under blockade and with a high presence of IDPs, especially in the provinces of Kompienga and Kossi, the early depletion of self-produced stocks and the unusually high prices of basic commodities are negatively affecting households' food acces. As a result, poor households in these areas face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. 

    In urban centers, payroll tax deductions, increased taxes on the consumption of certain goods and services, and above-average prices for some high-consumption products (rice, oil, sugar, fuel, and fuels) are eroding the purchasing power of poor households. As a result, these households are forced to reduce the quantity and quality of meals, facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. 

    In the relatively calmer production areas of the south and west, despite declining incomes, poor households continue to have typical access to food through their production and remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). These localities welcomed displaced people from other regions of the country in search of employment opportunities, which increased competition for the supply of labor.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Source: FEWS NET


    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Insecurity: Given ongoing offensive pressure from the FDS against the positions of armed terrorist groups, it is likely that these groups will also increase attacks and repressive actions against civilian populations. Overall, the frequency and intensity of security incidents and associated killings are expected to remain at high levels throughout the dry season from February to May. A relative decrease in attacks may be observed during the rainy season between July and September due to the reduced mobility of armed terrorist groups. The threats and attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups are expected to continue to hinder the return of displaced persons to their original areas, significantly disrupt the functioning of local markets, and limit households' access to fields, thereby reducing agropastoral activities.
    • Seasonal forecasts: North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) seasonal forecasts from January indicate possibilities of average to above-average rainfall over the Sahel from June to September. However, confidence in the forecasts is relatively low given the long lead time. Assuming good spatiotemporal distribution, rainfall could promote good growth of crops and pastures during the period.
    • Dry season production: As part of the presidential initiative for food self-sufficiency, producers received agricultural inputs and government support in October through site development and the securing of certain sites in the north for the dry season. Also, production in the dry season between January and May is expected to increase compared to the previous season, particularly for maize and rice. However, access to production sites will remain limited compared to the pre-security crisis norm, particularly in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Nord, Centre-Nord, Sahel, and Est regions. Furthermore, the high cost of production factors such as agricultural inputs and fuel for operating water pumps could constrain producers, particularly the poorest ones, to reduce cultivated areas. In addition to these limiting factors, the risks of early drying up of water points in certain localities (Centre-Sud, Hauts-Bassins, Nord, Sahel) could reduce the number of production cycles during the season. Overall, the expected productions, mainly between January and May, will be below the pre-crisis average. 
    • Agricultural income: The sale of agricultural products, mainly cash crops (cotton, cowpea, peanut, sesame, soybean, non-timber forest products, etc.) and vegetable products, typically constitute the main source of income for poor farming households. A decrease in income from the sale of cotton, sesame, soybeans, and cowpeas is expected due to the decrease in their production. The decrease in the price of peanuts and the difficulties related to its exportation will not allow producers to make much profit from it. Despite the seasonal availability of non-timber forest products, especially shea nuts and néré grains, the limited accessibility of collection areas, combined with the decrease in their price, will negatively impact the income derived from the sale of these products. Furthermore, the risks of incidents on supply routes and road harassment will contribute to reducing the attendance of production sites by foreign buyers and slowing down the flow of vegetable products. Overall, farm incomes will be similar to, or slightly above, their 2023 levels during the scenario period.
    • Decline in non-agricultural income: Despite the widening of the security radius in some localities, particularly in the north of the country, several gold panning sites remain inaccessible. The increase in population exodus from northern areas to gold panning sites and agricultural production zones in the south and west, particularly in relatively calmer regions such as Hauts-Bassins, Sud-Ouest, Centre-Sud, and Cascades, and the increase in the number of migrants to coastal countries, could lead to above average remittances benefiting the departure zones. However, the persistence of the difficult economic situation could limit job opportunities in urban centers. Furthermore, the demand for labor for field preparation between February and May and for field maintenance between June and September may decrease compared to the last three seasons due to the decrease in cotton acreage (due to the high cost of fertilizers) and the increasing use of herbicides in fields.

    Figure 4

    Projected price of white maize in the Sankaryaré market in Ouagadougou
    Projection du prix du maïs blanc sur le marché de Sankaryaré à Ouagadougou

    Source: FEWS NET

    • Market operations and commodity prices: Agricultural markets will continue to be disrupted by the security situation. Between February and September 2024, market supply will generally be below average and below 2023 levels due to difficulties in accessing certain production areas for the transfer of food to the north and east, where market supply is possible only through escorted convoys. In addition to the measures banning cereal and cowpea exports in effect since 2022, which negatively impact cereal imports, the recent ban on food exports implemented by Côte d'Ivoire will decrease the volume of imported food this year, despite the presence of informal flows. Demand could be slightly above average due to early stock depletion in the areas most affected by insecurity, additional cereal exports in support of Niger, and above-average institutional purchases. Due to disrupted flows and increased demand, prices of basic commodities will remain similar to their 2023 levels but higher than the five-year seasonal averages (Figure 4). These upward variations will be more pronounced in areas that are hard to reach and less covered by aid. 
    • Economic situation: Despite the decreased inflation rate, rising costs of certain essential products and services such as fuel, communication, and transportation will continue to put pressure on household purchasing power. The new measures for income tax deductions on salaries, instituted as of January 2024, will increase pressure on household incomes and continue to degrade purchasing power.
    • Food aid: Due to market supply difficulties and asset losses related to household livelihoods in areas with significant security challenges, a large number of households will now have food assistance as their main source of food. However, as typical, this aid will experience a seasonal reduction between February and May, a period of intervention planning. In addition, there will be security and logistical obstacles to its implementation. From June to September, the volume of aid will increase compared to 2023 due to an increase in the quantities of cereals intended for free distribution by the government. Furthermore, humanitarian agencies are increasingly using vouchers to overcome the difficulties associated with direct food distributions and also as an alternative to the ban on direct cash transfers, particularly in the Sahel, Centre-Nord, and Nord regions. However, the volume of aid will remain below average during the period due to difficulties in financing aid and security and logistical obstacles to its implementation.
    • Deterioration in the nutritional situation: Preliminary results of the SMART national nutrition survey conducted between September and October 2023 indicate a precarious nutritional situation throughout the country, with an average global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 7.5 percent nationally and area-level prevalence rates ranging from 6.8 to 8.3 percent. The nutritional situation is likely to remain worrying, despite a slight seasonal improvement generally observed between February and May due to the lower prevalence of water-borne diseases and the seasonal availability of vegetable products and non-timber forest products. The situation could deteriorate further between June and September due to the longer lean season and the seasonal rise in water-borne diseases, particularly in areas of the Sahel, Nord, Centre-Nord, and Est regions, where insecurity has strongly impacted access to health services and limited the provision of essential health and nutrition services such as treatment and prevention of malnutrition, vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and vaccination.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    In areas under blockade, particularly in the Nord and Sahel regions, poor households and IDPs will continue to depend mainly on aid due to the lack of self-produced stocks and the erosion of their livelihood assets. Indeed, with the low water level in water points, it is likely that vegetable farming will be limited starting in April, and this food source will be marginal. Gold panning, selling firewood, and money transfers from relatives outside the area will be the main sources of income between February and September. Food aid will continue to be needed to avoid an increase in the number of people facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between February and May. The timely onset of the rainy season will allow for seasonal availability of foraged products starting in July. With a larger security radius compared to the previous season, it is possible that the majority of households will have access to green vegetables. Furthermore, the implementation of humanitarian programs during the lean season will help reduce extreme consumption gaps and prevent food insecurity from deteriorating beyond Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between June and September. 

    In other hard-to-reach areas with a high presence of IDPs in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Centre-Nord, and Est regions, low incomes and high prices will degrade food access for poor households and force a larger proportion of people to adopt Crisis (IPC Phase 3) consumption and livelihood coping strategies between February and May. Between June and September, the use of green vegetables and other non-timber forest products will be greater than usual, as will the supply of farm labor to generate income or to access food. This will limit extreme consumption strategies and maintain the majority of poor IDPs and host households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    In urban centers, poor households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to September. The seasonal increase in prices of essential goods and below-average incomes will continue to exert demand pressure from households on markets and push more people to negatively change their consumption habits. 

    In the relatively calm southern and western regions, average harvests should ensure typical food access for poor households to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between February and May 2024. However, households may experience livelihood deficits as a result of decreased income from the sale of agricultural products and increased pressure on available resources due to the presence of IDPs. Although IDPs in these areas will have relatively more income from labor, wood and charcoal sales, and gold panning to obtain staple foods from markets, they will continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes throughout the period.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario
    AreaEventsImpact on Food Security Outcomes
    NationalImproved security situationAn improvement in the security situation would encourage more movements to seek income or food opportunities, a gradual return of IDPs, and a better supply of staple foods to local markets, all of which could mitigate the rise in prices. This would also facilitate the deployment of aid and help to improve food access, reducing the wide consumption gaps. Although this would not fundamentally change the level of asset erosion, poor IDPs and host households in areas previously most affected by insecurity could face Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) or better outcomes because of thegreater level of assistance, as well as access to a few sources of food and income, in particular non-timber forest products and vegetable production sites.
    Areas under blockadeSustained delivery of large quantities of food aidThe use of land convoys to deliver food rations for two to three months and addressing other basic needs would make it possible to cover at least 50 percent of households’ monthly caloric needs and compensate for poor households’ low incomes. Thus, poor households would no longer be forced to adopt emergency coping strategies. These households would likely face Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes as a significant improvement in holdings is not expected in the short term.
    Soum Province of the Sahel Region, Livelihood Zone BF07Deterioration of the security situation and prolonged suspension of aidA deterioration in the security situation could further limit market supply and lead to shortages of essential foodstuffs. Delivery of aid could be suspended, thus creating serious consumption deficits among households. The few sources of income still available such as wood collection, vegetable production, and gold panning would not be enough to fill the gaps. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity would likely be maintained, but the proportion of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) would be higher than currently expected.

    Area of Concern: Soum Province of the Sahel Region, Livelihood Zone BF07: North and East Livestock and Cereals (Figure 5)

    Figure 5

    Reference map for the area of concern: Soum Province, Sahel Region, BFO7
    Carte de référence pour la zone concernée :   Soum Province, Sahel Région, BFO7

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Following the large-scale attack by armed terrorist groups on the military base in Djibo on November 26, the FDS, supported by the VDP, have intensified offensive actions in the province. An operation named “Tchefari-Lii” was conducted in the north, leading to the recapture by the army of communes, such as Baraboulé and other localities north of Djibo, and the recovery of significant combat equipment as well as goods and livestock looted by armed terrorist groups. While these operations have made it possible to widen the security radius around Djibo, from 3 km in January 2023 to 10 or even 15 km in 2024, population movements remain limited, as does access to typical income sources such as livestock farming and gold panning. Residents sometimes have to ask the SDS for permission to go to collect wood and forage.

    Access to basic social services remains limited despite the decrease in the population forced to flee the ongoing blockade to more secure areas. Key informants report that the current population living in Djibo, Arbinda, and Kelbo has dropped significantly compared to February 2023, although there are no official figures since March 2023. 

    The Djibo market has been operating minimally for the past two years, with largely below-average supplies. Market supply is dependent on convoys under military escort. In 2023, the Djibo market received only three supply convoys on the following dates: March 21, June 20, and December 6. These long delays are the result of an increase in the number of communes in the country whose supplies are contingent on military convoys. In January 2024, the prices of staple cereals were relatively stable compared with the five-year average on the Djibo market, but still double the prices before the blockade was imposed in 2022. In Arbinda, sorghum and millet increased by 57 and 61 percent, respectively, compared to the average. The highest annual price decreases for key cereals (68 to 70 percent) are in Djibo market due to the record price levels recorded at the same time in 2023. Although almost all households have depleted their stocks from self-production, market reliance remains low due to low incomes and the significant reliance on food aid for a large proportion of households. Weak demand due to low purchasing power and household dependence on food aid could also explain this price decline, along with government efforts to set price ceilings with city traders. Key informants report that marginal disposable income is intended to meet other needs not covered by aid, such as wood, sugar, and tea. 

    The Djibo livestock market remains closed. Local butchers occasionally purchase small ruminants directly from households. Demand is significantly higher than the supply and mainly concerns goats and sheep, as households no longer have large ruminants available. The slaughtering of animals by butchers is becoming increasingly rare due to the almost total depletion of livestock assets in the commune. Some households keep one to two heads as a security reserve, but these are often subject to theft.

    Typical sources of income remain inaccessible. Income from the sale of grass, water, and firewood remains marginal, but more people are engaged in these activities compared to January 2023 due to the expansion of the security radius around the town of Djibo. This allows women to collect more grass and firewood, increasing the volumes available for sale. Selling vegetables enables the minority engaged in this activity to earn some income to meet needs not covered by aid (such as tea, sugar, firewood, etc.). Although prohibited in the region, gold panning is still practiced on accessible areas under the control of the FDS and VDP, especially in Arbinda. According to key informants, more than 50 percent of IDPs and around 40 percent of host households receive cash transfers from living relatives outside of Djibo and Arbinda, although information on the amounts of such transfers is not available. Key informants, however, indicate that income from these transfers is increasing compared to the average, as the number of people able to leave Djibo has increased, thereby increasing their ability to send funds to those who have remained in the city. However, these transfers are not sufficient to fill the income gap created by the erosion of assets related to household livelihoods since the crisis. 

    Humanitarian aid flights to Djibo resumed in early January after being suspended in mid-October, underlining the precariousness of delivering aid by helicopter in a volatile security environment, given the logistical and financial challenges involved. Estimates based on official figures of March 2023 indicate that WFP humanitarian aid covers around 16 to 20 percent of the population of Djibo with rations of 50 to 75 percent. However, key informants indicate that a greater proportion of the population relies on humanitarian aid as their main source of food. This is probably due to the reduction in the population base and IDPs in Djibo, which would increase WFP coverage, as well as assistance sharing practiced by the beneficiary population. In addition to WFP deliveries, the army escorted convoy that reached Djibo in December included about 550 tons of food for free distribution. Key informants indicate that a large portion was distributed in December, and the rest was reserved for Djibo's social action security stocks, the last of which were distributed in early February. Food distributions are also underway in the commune of Arbinda, and some NGOs are opting for voucher operations in collaboration with local traders to overcome logistical difficulties. Key informants have indicated that households adopt management and resilience strategies to cope with the volatile environment in which humanitarian aid must be delivered and to guard against potential disruptions in aid delivery. These strategies include reducing the number and size of meals, allowing households to extend the duration of stocks received from aid.

    Figure 6

    Projected price of millet in the Djibo market
    Projection du prix du mil sur le marché de Djibo

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions 

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Insecurity: Despite the widening of the security radius around the commune of Djibo, population movements remain limited due to persisting threats of attack by armed terrorist groups. The latter are expected to continue carrying out repressive actions against civilians and preventing the resupply of markets. 
    • Agropastoral production: The level of area sown during the next crop year is expected to improve compared to the previous year, due to the widening of the security radius around the cities of Djibo and Arbinda. Cropped areas will still remain well below average compared to before the blockade in 2022. Access to factors of production will remain limited, given low household incomes and high input costs. Insecurity will continue to limit access to pastoral resources and the revival of livestock activities.
    • Decline in income: Grass, firewood, and water sales, vegetable production, and transfers from relatives will be the main sources of income for poor households between February and May. These sources of revenue will not be sufficient to cover the gap created by lack of access to typical sources of income, i.e., the sale of livestock and pastoral labor, due to the departure of the province's large-scale livestock farmers. Furthermore, the dam's water is likely to be insufficient for the continuation of vegetable production from April onward. Timber harvesting and sales, petty trade, and recourse to transfers from relatives will make up the bulk of income sources between June and September, remaining marginal during the period but above 2023 levels. Between June and September, a slight increase in the agricultural workforce could be observed due to the annual increase in the area planted for 2024/2025 production. 
    • Market operations: The markets of Djibo, Kelbo, and Arbinda will continue to be supplied from convoys escorted by the defense forces. The continued decline in demand due to low household incomes and low dependence on the market, given the scale of aid, will reduce the risk of market disruptions in basic foodstuffs. In addition, the increasing use of vouchers by humanitarian organizations could help alleviate the logistical difficulties related to the distribution of food, particularly in Arbinda. However, demand will remain below average. Given below-average supply and demand, prices will be almost similar to seasonal averages in the last three years and below last year's historical levels (Figure 6). The supply of livestock will remain low or non-existent due to the erosion of holdings and will be unable to meet the demand of the city's butchers.
    • Food aid: Aid remained the main source of food for poor households. Although aid plans are not yet available, the communes of Djibo and Arbinda remain priorities for both the government and partners. From June to September, the volume of aid could increase compared to 2023 due to the expected increase in cereals intended for free distribution by the government and the reduction of long supply delays in areas under blockade due to the ongoing securing of roads by the FDS and the VDP. In addition, to reduce delivery delays related to logical difficulties, quarterly rations could be provided by the government during convoys

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between February and September, access to food and income is expected to improve slightly compared to last year. Food consumption deficits are expected to be mitigated by the resumption of humanitarian food aid in January and its wide coverage of the population, as well as slight improvements in access to wild food and vegetable products. Food aid will continue to be the main source of food for the majority of poor households in the province, which have depleted their stocks from self-production since December 2023. Improved access to financial services and remittances will enable households to purchase food and non-food items in the market to supplement what they receive from aid. However, household food security remains precarious. It is likely that the early drying up of the dam between April and June will limit vegetable production activities and thus deprive households of this food source. With the duration of the blockade, household assets are being eroded, and visible signs of malnutrition persist among the population, although less so than last year. Although the security radius is wider than in 2023, the low incomes from wood and water sales, gold panning and transfers received from relatives will not be sufficient to meet household needs on the market. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely between February and May, and aid remains essential to avoid an increase in the number of people facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between February and May. 

    Between June and September, no significant change in household income sources is expected. Increased recourse to the wild vegetables available with the onset of the rainy season will not be enough to replace aid. Given that the majority of households depend on food assistance, aid deliveries must not only be maintained, but also increased to limit emergency coping strategies and prevent an increase in the number of people facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes.


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Annex on the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Burkina Faso

    FEWS NET assesses and communicates a Famine (IPC Phase 5) risk when there is a credible alternative scenario in which Famine (IPC Phase 5) would occur in the future, but it is not the most likely acute food insecurity outcome. A credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) exists when the probability of the scenario that would lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5) is considered moderate or high. This distinction is important in contexts where potentially pessimistic scenarios exist, but these are not scenarios that FEWS NET considers to have a moderate or high probability of occurrence. According to IPC 3.1 protocols, the classification of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in a specific area requires that three famine-related thresholds be met: 1) at least 20 percent of the population in a given area have an extreme lack of food; 2) levels of acute malnutrition reach or exceed 30 percent of children under five; 3) ≥2 adults or ≥4 children per 10,000 people die every day due to famine or the interaction of malnutrition and disease.

    Since the beginning of the blockade on the municipality of Djibo in February 2022, the context has changed considerably. Between February 2022 and mid-2023, mobility around Djibo was extremely limited to 1 to 3 km beyond the city. Since the second half of 2023, key informants have indicated that mobility around Djibo has increased, with more people risking their lives to travel to other communes in Soum province. In addition, in response to the FDS’s increased drone strike capabilities, JNIM has probably shifted from a strategy of cutting Djibo off completely to one of dispersing units across the north of the country, with the ability to quickly concentrate its forces for major operations and attacks. Although this has probably slightly improved mobility around Djibo for local populations and the military, the expansion of armed terrorist group attacks in the northern part of the country continues to disperse military resources, with the possibility of continuing to significantly disrupt access to an increasing number of areas. Following the large-scale attack by armed terrorist groups on the military base in Djibo on November 26, the FDS, supported by the VDP, have intensified offensive operations in the province. These operations have made it possible to widen the security radius around Djibo, from 3 km in January 2023 to 10 or even 15 km in 2024. Not only did these operations extend the security perimeter around Djibo, but several operations were also carried out to secure key axes across northern Burkina, notably the Dori-Kongoussi axis. While Djibo still requires military convoy in order to be accessed by road, several other localities are now accessible by road, including Gorom Gorom in the neighboring province of Oudalan. Key informants indicate that convoys are possible in several other localities that have not been accessible since the beginning of the year: Gayeri was reached by convoy in September, and some areas can be regularly supplied by convoy, such as Tougan (every week) and Markoye (twice a week). However, flows to Djibo and through the blockaded areas remain limited, as do the movements of people and their access to their usual sources of income.

    Key informants indicate that social services have resumed in Djibo. Thanks to a functioning telephone network and the resumption of certain financial services, households can now access remittances, which, according to key informants, are an important source of income enabling households to buy food and non-food products on the market. In addition to financial services, schools can operate for an entire day, and school canteen programs have resumed.

    Acute food insecurity levels remain very high in Burkina Faso. Even with the relative improvements observed since December, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist during the lean season in northern Burkina Faso, with an increase in the population in need of urgent humanitarian food assistance between June and August 2024. A small proportion of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) are expected to persist throughout the projection period, due to underlying erosion of livelihoods, long delays in market supply, and well below-average local production. At the same time, major funding shortfalls will continue to limit the scale of humanitarian aid, with the food security response for the 2024 national response plan being under funded. Although the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) is considered low from February to September, it is important to bear in mind that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes remain indicative of a serious situation in which atypically high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality are expected.

    The risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) can be removed or added in a country at any time depending on changing conditions. FEWS NET will continue to closely monitor and regularly assess the level of risk, as conflict patterns and agricultural production could change throughout the 2024 rainy season.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Burkina Faso Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) anticipated in northern Burkina Faso during the lean season, 2024.

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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