Food Security Outlook

An early lean season for the north of the country

January 2014 to June 2014
2014-Q1-1-1-BF-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Very poor and poor households in and around the Sahel region will be more heavily impacted by a common problem of inadequate food access, making them more market dependent and increasing their need to sell more livestock to purchase food. Between April and June, these households will experience Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2).

  • Although this analysis is limited to the outlook period, in the absence of any other adverse shocks affecting livelihoods, the Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) situation in the Sahel region will likely continue until the end of the lean season in September.

  • In other regions of the country, very poor and poor households are still generating above-average incomes until the end of February through sales of cash crops, including cowpeas and groundnuts, and market garden produce, the prices of which are all above the five-year average due to increased demand.

  • In addition, household food stocks in these regions will remain at normal levels and there should be no major restrictions to market access. Households in these regions will be able to meet their food and non-food needs and will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) throughout the outlook period.

National Overview

Current situation

Though final estimates of harvest production are not reported until the end of February, according to the preliminary results, overall national production is above average. Stocks of harvested crops are still available to meet household food needs. Through its social welfare departments and in accordance with its 2013 response plan, the government is also distributing food supplies (6,000 metric tons) to 500,000 of the very poor identified as needing food assistance. In addition, 160 sales points for cereals at more affordable prices are currently operating in the provincial capitals, which is helping to regulate market prices.

Prices for maize have remained the same and were down nine and six percent for millet and sorghum, respectively in December compared to the previous month, in line with normal seasonal trends. Compared to the high prices during the same period last year, maize prices have fallen by an average of seven percent, millet by 16 percent, and sorghum by 10 percent. These staple cereal prices are in line with the five-year average.

Farm income for households, except for those in the Sahel region, is at average or above-average levels thanks to the good sales of cash crops, market garden produce, and bush products. In cotton production areas, cotton is being bought at a price of 235 FCFA per kg, up approximately 10 percent from the five-year average.

Demand for cowpeas and groundnuts is high on markets, but unlike last year, when these crops were primarily exported to Ghana and Senegal, demand this year is currently coming from the domestic market. Cowpea and unshelled groundnut prices are above the five-year average by 13 and 25 percent, respectively.

Overall water availability is satisfactory, making normal off-season farming activities possible. The first crops sold on the market are being purchased at prices profitable to producers. For example, a 50 kg bag of onions, which normally costs 15,000 FCFA, is selling for 35,000 FCFA, and green beans, which normally cost 300 FCFA per kg, are selling for 400 FCFA. These high prices are related to the increase in demand to meet the growing needs of urban centers and to the improvement and growth of storage and conservation facilities.

More households are turning to gold panning activities than previously seen, but the on-site purchase price of a gram of gold is lower than last year following the decrease in international prices. In communities with below-average crop production (the Sahelian region), workers, including women, have been migrating to gold panning sites since November in hopes of earning incomes similar to the four-year average.

For livestock herding, which constitutes a considerable source of household income, water availability particularly in the Sahelian region, is average, but pasture vegetation levels are below average due to the early cessation of rains. Consequently, demand for animal feed has risen. Despite being subsidized by the livestock service departments, prices of agro-industrial byproducts are still at or 30 percent above normal prices, ranging from 6,000 to 8,500 FCFA. Fodder prices have nearly doubled on the Djibo market in the Sahelian region, where the quantity of pasture is particularly low. Transhumant livestock herds are currently migrating to Mali, which typically does not occur until February or March.

Supply of livestock, particularly of goats, is up on the markets. Households fearing food insecurity for both themselves and their livestock will prefer to thin their herds in order to buy cereals and animal feed. Prices are more profitable for goats, which are more sought after by international traders, particularly Ghanaians. Goat prices on the Dori and Djibo markets are 7 percent higher and similar to last year, respectively, and are above the five-year average by 23 and 5 percent, respectively.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2014 is based on the following general assumptions:

  • Final cereal production results: Contrary to the October projections, which forecast production 21 percent higher than the five-year average, the final cereal production results expected in February should be average in light of decreased production yields in several municipalities, due to the poor distribution of rainfall.
  • Final cash crop production results: With above-average numbers of areas planted, the production of cash crops, particularly cotton, groundnuts, and cowpeas, should be above the five-year average. Farmers, except those in the Sahel region, should also generate above-average incomes due to higher prices.
  • Off-season crop production: Water levels in reservoirs in traditional production areas are satisfactory. As a result, off-season farming activities should proceed normally, with increasingly widespread harvests generally between February and March, generating incomes similar to last year and 20 to 30 percent higher than the five-year average.
  • Institutional cereal procurements: With food security stocks replenished to more than 70 percent of their conventional levels (31,000 metric tons for national stocks and 7,000 metric tons for intervention stocks), demand from the government will remain in line with the norm, at between 4,000 and 6,000 metric tons, which should not disrupt markets during the outlook period.
  • Cereal trade: There will be a normal flow of domestic and foreign cereal trade throughout the outlook period and, as has been the case for the past 12 months, there should be no major restrictions on trade with the coastal states (Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire), Mali, or Niger.
  • Cereal prices: Movements in cereal prices will follow normal seasonal trends, with prices remaining relatively stable between January and March and rising slightly beginning in April. However, in areas where crop production is below average  (in and around the Sahel region), prices could rise more than 15 percent above the five-year average due to increased household demand on markets.
  • Livestock grazing and watering conditions: Due to the degradation of pastures, particularly in northern livestock-raising areas (the Sahel, North-Central, and Northern regions), the animal grazing and water access problems that normally begin in April will now occur in March. The transhumant livestock movements which began earlier than usual, in December, will therefore increase in January, instead of in February or March as they usually do. The physical condition of livestock, particularly cattle and sheep, will also deteriorate.
  • Livestock prices and terms of trade: Livestock prices, particularly for cattle and sheep, are currently in line with the norm. They will follow this trend until March and then remain 10 to 15 percent below the five-year average between April and June. The combined effect of the poor physical condition of livestock and supply exceeding demand will push prices down, negatively impacting terms of trade and thus household access to food.
  • Farm income: Very poor and poor households could still generate above average incomes until the end of February through sales of cash crops, including cowpeas and groundnuts, the prices of which are above the five-year average. Beginning in March, only middle-income and wealthy households will still have marketable food stocks and will benefit from higher prices. Sales of market produce, which will remain available until May, will generate above-average incomes.
  • Remittance income: Income from labor and other types of migration will remain in line with the norm throughout the outlook period. The positive socio-political situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the main destination for migrants, is helping migrants integrate into the local economic system.
  • Health and nutrition: With prevention and malnutrition programs insufficient or even absent, global acute malnutrition rates should remain in line with average rates observed during the last five years. However, in areas that will start to experience food insecurity in April, the nutritional status of children under five and pregnant and breast-feeding women could decline.
Most likely food security outcomes

Household food security conditions will remain in line with the norm until the end of March as households rely on their production stocks and income from crop sales. Typical food security problems will arise beginning in April with the depletion of food stocks, making households dependent on markets at a time when their income is limited and when cereal prices will reach their seasonal peak. Even in the face of these problems, households in most regions should be able to meet their food and non-food needs and will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) throughout the outlook period until June. Poor and very poor households in and around the Sahelian region will be more impacted by food insecurity, as they will be forced to sell more livestock than normal in order to meet their food needs, although they will face difficulty protecting their livelihoods. Poor and very poor households in the Sahelian region will thus experience Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) beginning in April, as explained in detail below.

Areas of Concern

Livelihood Zone 8 (North Transhumant Pastoralism and Millet)

Local livelihoods in this area where very poor and poor households normally account for 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the local population are based mainly on millet production, which meets six to eight months worth of household food needs, and transhumant livestock-raising.

Current situation

The rainy season in this area was characterized by a poor distribution of rainfall, which negatively affected crops and did not allow pasture vegetation to regrow and develop normally in the region. Conditions for transhumant livestock-raising activities, the main local livelihood, are marked by average water availability but below-average pasture availability. Livestock are feeding off crop residues and are currently in satisfactory physical condition. Due to insufficient pasture, transhumant livestock herds are migrating to destinations in Mali and Niger earlier than usual, in December instead of in February or March.

In municipalities in the area’s more northern regions (Falangoutou, Tin-Akoff, Oursi, Déou, Koutougou, and Nassoumbou), cereal crop yields are 30 to 50 percent lower than normal. Production of cowpeas, the area’s main cash crop, is also down more than 50 percent because households were only able to complete one crop production cycle instead of the usual two.

Despite production deficits, households are currently able to meet their food and non-food needs through their harvest stocks and income from crop sales. Some middle-income and wealthy households are thinning their livestock herds to purchase cereals and animal feed in order to build up food stocks as a preventive measure. Workers from poor and very poor households, including women, are traveling to gold panning sites on a daily basis and are also using the income they earn there to buy cereals. However, the declining price of a gram of gold, which has fallen from 24,000-30,000 FCFA in 2012 to 18,000-22,000 FCFA, is not working in their favor.

This area is supplied by the assembly markets of Pouytenga and Ouagadougou and production areas in the west of the country, and market supply levels are satisfactory. Prices of staple cereals, particularly millet and sorghum, are 21 and 24 percent lower, respectively, than last year but are slightly higher than the five-year average (10 percent for millet and 3 percent for sorghum).

Supplies of livestock, particularly small animals (sheep and goats) are 16 to 18 percent higher than last year but slightly lower than the five-year average (11 percent). Supply is higher than last year because households are building up larger stocks of cereals and livestock feed as a preventive measure and are thus being forced to sell more livestock. With increased supply and stable demand, sheep prices on the Dori market are 12 percent lower than both last year and the five-year average. However, the price of goats, which are in greater demand on the markets, is 7 percent higher than in 2012 and 23 percent higher than the five-year average. This is due in part to the fact that goats are more sought after by Ghanaians, who are the primary buyers of export livestock. Agro-industrial byproducts used as animal feed are available on the markets at prices similar to last year (6,000 FCFA). Milk prices are the same as last year and remain 20 to 40 percent above average. Terms of trade favor producers, as a Sahelian goat can be sold for the price of 173 kg of millet, up 11 percent from the five-year average of 156 kg.

The area includes fewer than 16,000 Malian refugees who are supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners.  They receive monthly food rations and health and nutrition support.

The SMART survey conducted in August-September put the Global Acute Malnutrition rate for the zone at 11.4 percent. While concerning, this rate is still within the range of rates observed over the last three years (10.7 to 14.7 percent). Since the survey was conducted, the food security condition of households has remained normal thanks to access to crops and milk, which should help maintain or lower the rate.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2014 in this area is based on the following assumptions:

  • Household food stocks: Household food stocks will become depleted in March or April, two months earlier than in an average year (May or June), making households more dependent than usual on markets beginning in April.
  • Livestock grazing and watering conditions: The normal lean period in pastoral areas (April to June) will be more difficult given the shortage of pasture. Water will also be difficult to access during this period with the drying up of reservoirs. The physical condition of livestock will therefore deteriorate, reducing their market value. Agro-industrial byproduct prices will also increase due to increased demand on the markets. These grazing and watering problems will also lead to above-average livestock mortality (particularly for cattle and sheep).
  • Market supplies: Markets will be adequately supplied in cereals and agro-industrial byproducts for animal feed thanks to the satisfactory supply in the country’s production areas, and there should be no major restrictions on trade of these products throughout the outlook period.
  • Cereal prices: Prices of staple cereals (millet and sorghum) will remain nearly 10 percent above the five-year average until the end of March. Prices will rise to 10 to 20 percent above the five-year average beginning in April with increased demand for cereals at markets.
  • Livestock prices: Livestock prices will remain below the five-year average, particularly between March and June, due to the deteriorated physical condition of animals and the increased supply on the markets, which will negatively impact terms of trade for pastoralists.
  • Milk sales: Income from sales of milk and dairy products will remain stable between January and March but will fall to below-average levels between April and June due to decreased milk production during the lean period in pastoral areas.
  • Farm income: Income from crop sales, particularly cowpeas, will fall at least 50 percent due to decreased production. Poor households typically continue selling crops until the end of February.
  • Gold panning activities: Income from gold panning activities should remain in line with the four-year average. These activities are normally more widespread between November and May.
  • Remittances: Income from remittances and seasonal migration will remain at typical levels given the good labor prospects in destinations for migrants.
  • Health and nutrition: Difficulties in accessing adequate food supplies could negatively affect the nutritional status of the local population, particularly children under five, in an area where prevention and malnutrition programs are non-existent. Because of this, acute malnutrition rates generally observed in this area (between 10 and 13 percent since 2008) are not expected to fall.
  • Refugee situation: The number of refugees will fall by at least 30 percent compared to last April due to a number of voluntary departures since July.
  • Household assistance: Most of the humanitarian partners operating in the area are having problems funding their intervention programs, and the government’s 2014 response plan has not yet been funded either. Accordingly, household assistance will remain at a level similar to normal during the outlook period.
Most likely food security outcomes

The food security situation should remain calm between January and March due to the existence of food stocks, but difficulties accessing food will arise earlier than normal, beginning in April. Household food stocks will begin to deplete in March, and the market will be the only recourse at a time when terms of trade are falling with the rise in staple cereal prices and the fall in livestock prices. Households will thus be forced to sell more livestock than normal to buy not only cereals but also animal feed. In addition, above-average livestock mortality will also negatively their productive capital. Very poor and poor households will thus experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between January and March but will experience Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) between April and June as they face difficulty meeting their livelihoods needs. Beyond the outlook period, from the end of June to the end of the consumption year in September, this Stressed food insecurity situation is expected to continue if nothing further impacts the possibility for households to generate income. Beginning in July, households will turn to wild foods and available milk, as is normally the case, to prevent their food security situation from deteriorating.

Livelihood Zone 7 (North and East Livestock and Cereals)

This is a high-potential area for livestock-raising and millet and cowpea production in which very poor and poor households account for 20 and 40 percent, respectively, of the local population. Crops harvested in October normally last for six to seven months, depleting between April and May. The main sources of household income are sales of livestock (small animals and poultry) and milk and gold panning activities. Seasonal migration by transhumant herds to the eastern part of the country or the coastal states normally begins in February.

Current situation

Current household food consumption is normal thanks to the availability of freshly harvested crops. However, households are atypically turning to markets to build up food stocks as a preventive measure. Some households are holding on to their crops to consume them later during the agricultural labor season and are now consuming stocks of food purchased at market.

Following the poor distribution of rainfall in this area during the rainy season, crop yields are below average, and many households fear a repeat of the difficult food situation of 2012. Yields of late-planted cash crops (primarily groundnuts and cowpeas) are down, resulting in below-average production levels. Consequently, the supply of cash crops on the markets is low, despite average prices that are 22 percent higher than last year and 49 percent higher than the five-year average.

Staple cereals are regularly available from traders on the markets, and the main supply areas are the markets in Pouytenga and Ouagadougou and the markets in production areas in the west of the country (Solenzo, Bobo, and Dédougou). Millet and sorghum prices are on average 8 and 14 percent higher, respectively, than last year. Prices are above the five-year average by 27 percent for millet and 20 percent for sorghum.

With the early cessation of rains at the start of September, pasture has become quickly degraded and is scarcely available, especially in the area’s more northern regions. According to the local animal resource technical department, fodder production is 30 to 50 percent below average. Demand for agro-industrial byproducts among producers is therefore high. A 10 kg bundle of fodder is selling for 700 CFA (up from 300 CFA last year), while a cart of fodder costs 6,000 to 6,500 CFA (up from 3,500 CFA in 2012).

Goats, which are greatly preferred by import countries, particularly Ghana, are the most sought after animals on the livestock markets. Compared to 2012, sheep supply is up an average of 13 percent, goat supply is up 30 percent, and cattle supply is up 5 percent. Sheep supplies are 3 percent higher than average, goat supplies are 51 percent higher, and cattle supplies are 28 percent higher. Goat and cattle prices are on the whole similar to 2012, but sheep prices are down 15 percent due to lower export prices. Traders who speculated in the coastal states during the Tabaski period posted low profit margins and even losses and are no longer motivated to buy more livestock at high prices. Compared to the five-year average, sheep prices are down 18 percent, while goat and cattle prices are up slightly by 5 and 10 percent, respectively.

In addition to livestock sales, households are also earning income from gold panning activities. Workers, including women, began traveling to gold panning sites at the end of the harvest in November. The price of gold is less than it was during the same period last year (down to 18,000-20,000 CFA from 20,000-22,000 CFA) but remains in line with the four-year average.

Fewer than 26,000 Malian refugees remain in the area and are primarily concentrated in the Soum and Séno provinces. They are supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners. Their presence should not significantly impact staple cereal prices on markets.

The SMART survey conducted in August-September put the Global Acute Malnutrition rates for the Soum province at 5.7 percent and the Komandjari province at 10.1 percent. These rates are lower than the rates observed over the last three years, which were generally above 10 percent.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from January through June 2014 in this area is based on the following assumptions:

  • Household food stocks: Harvests that usually last poor and very poor households six to seven months should only meet their needs for four to five months this year given the decrease in crop yields, meaning that beginning in April, households will be dependent on market purchase for food.
  • Income from cash crops: In light of the anticipated decrease in cowpea and groundnut production (between 30 and 50 percent below average, respectively), higher prices for these crops will not be enough to increase income, which will remain below average. This income from cash crops is normally available until the end of February.
  • Livestock grazing and watering conditions: Due to below-average availability of grazing pasture, transhumant livestock herds will begin migrating earlier than usual, in January, instead of February or March. With the drying up of water sources beginning in March, the lean period in pastoral areas will therefore be longer and more difficult from March to June, with above-average livestock mortality.
  • Cereal prices: Throughout the outlook period, prices of staple cereals (millet and sorghum) will remain in line with normal seasonal trends but will be higher than both last year and the five-year average (10 to 30 percent) due to increased demand from households, which will be more dependent on the markets for food.
  • Livestock prices: Livestock prices will be 10 to 15 percent lower than the five-year average due to an increased supply of animals in poor physical condition, causing terms of trade to decline to the detriment of households.
  • Remittances: Based on the stable socio-political situation in destinations for migrants (mainly in the coastal states), there should be near-average levels of migration and remittance income throughout the outlook period.
  • Small-scale gold panning activities: Income from gold panning activities (which will continue until June) will be similar to that of the last four years given the current price of a gram of gold at gold panning sites. More people will travel to these sites, but per person income will not change significantly.
  • Milk sales: Income from sales of milk and dairy products will remain stable, as the atypical decrease in production will be compensated by an increase in prices. The World Food Program, in collaboration with the dairy processing units, plans to collect approximately 33,700 liters of milk a month from 800 potential producers for distribution to school canteens. This activity, in combination with demand from refugees, will increase both demand for milk and purchase prices for producers.
  • Global acute malnutrition rates: Limited household access to food beginning in April could cause the nutritional status of the local population, particularly children under five, to deteriorate. In addition, the extended period of time spent by mothers and pregnant women at gold panning sites could keep them from looking after their children or could expose them and their children to acute respiratory infections. However, the impact of food insecurity in previous years indicates that acute malnutrition rates during the outlook period should remain similar to the 2009-2012 average (between 10.1 and 12.6 percent).
  • Malian refugees: The number of refugees will fall by at least 30 percent compared to last April due to a number of voluntary departures since July.
Most likely food security outcomes

With the existence of harvest stocks, the food security situation for poor and very poor households should remain normal between January and March, but difficulties accessing food will arise earlier than usual, in April, with the early depletion of stocks of freshly harvested crops and the decline in livestock-cereal terms of trade. With the drop in livestock prices, households will be forced to sell more animals than in an average year in order to purchase the same quantity of cereals. The longer and more difficult lean period in pastoral areas between March and June will also lead to above-average livestock mortality. These factors will all affect the ability of households to protect their livelihoods. Between January and March, very poor and poor households will thus experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) but will experience Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) beginning in April. This situation will probably not become worse from the end of the outlook period until the end of the consumption year, between June and September, if household incomes are not affected by any adverse shocks. Beginning in July, households could turn to wild foods and available milk, as is usually the case, to keep their food security situation from deteriorating.

Events that can Change the Outlook

Table 1. Possible events over the next six months that could change the most-likely scenario

Area Event Impact on Food Security Conditions

Nationwide

Continuation of government social welfare measures

Sales of cereals at affordable prices in test shops and at-risk municipalities, the free distribution of food supplies to the poor, and price controls will help stabilize market prices and facilitate household access to food.

Livelihood

Zones 7 & 8

Subsidized sales of animal feed

The government’s response plan also includes supplying the animal resource technical departments with animal feed for sale at subsidized prices for the period from March to June. This action will give producers access to animal feed and help mitigate animal grazing problems.

Safety nets put in place by humanitarian organizations

The funding and implementation of humanitarian aid programs will help reduce the food vulnerability of local populations.

 

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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