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Extreme north of the country facing Stressed acute food insecurity

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burkina Faso
  • January - June 2015
Extreme north of the country facing Stressed acute food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Faced with the early exhaustion of food stocks, a spike in staple food prices, and a decline in income, which comes mainly from livestock-rearing, poor households in the communes of Tin-Akoff, Nassoumbou, and Koutougou in the extreme north of the country are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. 

    • With below-average production levels made worse by a particularly difficult pastoral situation for the second season in a row and the continued deterioration in livestock-for-cereal terms-of-trade, the lean season for poor households in other communes in the Sahel region and its surroundings will last two months longer than normal, beginning in March.

    • In the rest of the country, where the lean season will be normal, normal market functioning will keep staple food prices in line with seasonal trends, with prices similar to the five-year average. Agricultural activities and a normal start to the rainy season in May/June will help contribute to this situation.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    In general, households' food consumption is normal and is based mainly on their own crops, which they produced at average levels. However, in the extreme north of the country, most households have already exhausted their own food stocks. This situation is due in part to attacks by grain-eating birds, which led to significant crop losses reaching 80 percent in some places (communes of Nassoumbou and Koutougou), and in part due to low rainfall levels, particularly in the commune of Tin-Akoff.

    Throughout the country, supplies of agricultural products are sufficient on most markets, and trader stock levels are above average with the availability of significant carry-over stocks. Wholesale trader and farmers’ association warehouses are overflowing with a large cereal inventory estimated at nearly 57,000 metric tons, 46 percent higher than last year and 40 to 60 percent above the five-year average.

    Trade with neighboring countries is functioning normally. Since October, an average of 2,300 metric tons of maize has entered the country, mainly from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. In return, these countries are the main destinations for millet (300 metric tons), sorghum (1,000 metric tons), and cowpeas (1,500 metric tons). Some of the maize from coastal countries is re-exported, mainly to Niger.

    Market prices of millet and sorghum are relatively similar to the five-year average. Maize prices, however, are down 10 percent due to abundant maize supplies on the markets (over 60 percent of the cereal supply) and relatively low prices for subsidized maize sold in shops set up by the government.

    In this post-harvest period, households' income comes mainly from sales of their own crops (particularly cash crops), but also from sales of livestock and market garden produce and gold-mining activities. In cotton production areas, the cotton buying season began with a cottonseed purchase price fixed at FCFA 225/kg. This price, which is relatively beneficial to producers, is six percent higher than the five-year average. Prices for other cash crops, particularly groundnuts, sesame, and cowpeas, are generally average, allowing farmers to earn substantially above-average income as many of them produced higher yields of crops.

    In areas that typically produce market garden crops, water availability is sufficient to ensure a normal dry cropping season. However, vegetable supplies are currently low on most markets, resulting in higher farmgate vegetable prices, which are usually high.

    Gold-mining activities are beginning again after the harvests, with on-site prices for a gram of gold almost 25 percent lower than they were at their peak in 2012. Despite that fact, gold-mining continues to attract farm and non-farm workers, as current prices for gold are similar to the five-year average.

    In the Sahel region in particular, where livestock sales are the main source of household income, agricultural and pastoral production deficits are leading households to thin their herds earlier than usual to purchase both cereals and animal feed (agro-industrial byproducts for feed) at high prices. Livestock-for-cereal terms-of-trade (male goats-millet) are 8 to 40 percent below normal.


    The most-likely food security scenario for January through June 2015 was based on the following assumptions:

    • Normal market functioning: With above-average trader inventories and the reconstitution of institutional stocks in neighboring countries, markets will remain sufficiently supplied to meet demand, and trade flows will function normally.
    • Average cereal prices: With a normal lean season expected, household demand on markets will remain average. Satisfactory supplies on markets will therefore result in prices in line with normal seasonal trends, with millet prices similar to the five-year average and maize prices 10 to 15 percent below average.
    • Above-average agricultural income: With above-average cash crop production levels (up 44 percent according to initial estimates for the season) and average prices (groundnuts and cowpeas) or above-average prices (cotton and sesame), households' agricultural income will be above average, providing them with food access through market purchases.
    • Stable non-agricultural income: Other household income, particularly from labor, seasonal migration, sales of non-timber forest products, and gold-mining, will generally remain in line with the average. With the rainy season expected to start normally, demand for farm labor will remain high for soil preparation and planting activities.
    • A longer pastoral lean season: In northern pastoral areas, livestock will experience a longer lean season for the second year in a row beginning in February due to pasture shortages and the drying up of animal watering holes. The shortages, which also concern areas hosting transhumant herds in Mali, will lead to a more severe deterioration in animal body conditions. There could therefore be more cases of mortality than in a normal year.
    • Below-average livestock prices: Also in northern pastoral areas, deteriorated animal body conditions and higher than usual household sales of livestock will push prices below the five-year average.
    • A stable health and nutrition situation: Malnutrition rates will remain within normal levels due to normal access to food during the outlook period and normal availability of non-timber forest products, fruits, and vegetables.
    • A normal dry season: With average water levels in water sources, dry season crop production will proceed normally. Agricultural households could generate average levels of income due to average crop prices.
    • A normal rainy season: Beginning in February, the Intertropical Front (ITF) could begin its normal seasonal rise toward the northern Sahel. This will cause the rainy season to begin on time in May/June throughout the country. Rainfall totals and distribution during the 2015 rainy season will be normal, allowing farming activities for the 2015/16 growing season to start at the normal time.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Very poor and poor households have normal access to food, mainly based on their own crops. With above-average cereal availability expected on the markets, average prices, and average to above-average income levels, households’ food access will be normal as they to protect their livelihoods. With the exception of poor households in and around the Sahel region (livelihood zones 7 and 8), the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout the outlook period. With farming activities expected to begin normally, acute food insecurity will remain Minimal, as households may continue to generate normal levels of income and have access to wild products, as usual, until the end of the lean season in September. 


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    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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