A normal lean season for very poor and poor households
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
While there were reports of some early rains beginning in April, rainfall activity did not pick up until the third dekad of June. Cumulative seasonal rainfall totals between April 1st and July 10th ranged from 192.5 mm, with 30 days of rain, in Di-Sourou (in the Sahelian zone), to 472.9 mm, with 28 days of rain, in the Kou Valley (in the Sudanian zone). In general, rainfall totals are at or above their 1981-2010 historical averages, except for at the Niangoloko gauging post (in the Cascades region), where below-average rainfall amounts were recorded. Planting activities in all parts of the country began to speed up during the third dekad of June, although in general, with the exception of the Sahel and parts of the East, the start of the growing season was two to three dekads behind schedule.
The government is providing above-average levels of assistance for the current growing season. In fact, 13,000 metric tons of fertilizer (with a 25 percent subsidy) and 8,600 metric tons of seeds (with a 90 percent subsidy) have been distributed to farmers. This represents a 30 and 20 percent increase, respectively, compared the 2008-2012 average. In addition, 30,000 units of farm equipment (plows, carts, sowing machines, etc.) have been provided to farmers at subsidized prices (with an 85 to 90 percent subsidy).
Regular rainfall since the third dekad of June in the Sudanian zone (which houses the country’s main assembly markets) encouraged traders and large farmers to offload their grain inventories, creating good market supplies. This also caused prices to stabilize or even decline (by less than four percent) compared to last month. In general, maize prices are five percent below, millet prices are seven percent above, and sorghum prices are close to the five-year average. Prices have also been relatively stable since January, in contrast to normal seasonal trends where prices steady rise beginning in May. This is mainly due to large supply and below-average household grain demand. In fact, certain poor and middle-income households, which are normally completely market-dependent at this time of year, are still living off crops from last November’s harvest, which itself exceeded the five-year average by 27 percent. Moreover, institutional demand for 31,000 metric tons of grain (30 percent more than usual) by a limited call for bids (three months later than usual because of administrative reasons) does not appear to be affecting prices. As of the end of May, the above-average stocks of major wholesale traders across the country (55,000 to 60,000 MT compared to 30,000 MT in a normal year) are another contributing factor to the current price stability.
The influx of grain imports (mainly maize) from Ghana (larger than normal) and Côte d’Ivoire (near-normal) exceeds exports, mainly to Niger (larger than normal). At the country level, major grain collection centers (the Pouytenga and Ouagadougou markets) and grain-producing areas in the Hauts Bassins (Bobo-Dioulasso) and Boucle du Mouhoun (Dédougou, Djibasso, Solenzo) regions are providing structurally deficit areas (the Sahelian, Northern, and North-Central regions) with a regular supply of grain.
Most household income is coming from the sale of livestock and the peddling of forest products (wood, charcoal, and shea nuts). In addition to generating income, the relatively good supply of mangoes and other nonwoody forest products (shea nuts, grapes, and vines) is helping to improve household food security conditions while, at the same time, reduce grain consumption.
Livestock prices in general and prices for small animals in particular are seven to 66 percent above the five-year average (on the Gorom-Gorom, Djibo, Fada, Pouytenga, and Dori markets). Demand is stable, but sales are down by an average of 35 percent with pastoralists selling fewer animals to purchase grains. The stabilization of grain prices has improved terms of trade for pastoralists. For example, the sale of a male goat can enable the purchase of between 124 and 206 kg of millet or sorghum, which puts the grain equivalent seven to 20 percent above the five-year average. In addition, the early start of the rains in April helped improve water and pastoral conditions earlier than normal, which has meant that livestock are in good physical condition.
Food and nutritional assistance programs organized earlier this year are either still underway or in the close-out phase. These programs are focused mainly on 1) strengthening livelihoods and the production capacity of the poorest households (through cash-for-work activities and distributions of seeds and breeding animals) and 2) on the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition in children under five years of age and pregnant and breast-feeding women (through blanket feeding operations).
As of April 22nd, there were 49,975 Malian refugees in the country, with close to 88 percent concentrated in livelihood zones 7 (“North and East Livestock and Cereals”) and 8 (“North Transhumant Pastoralism and Millet”) in the Sahelian region. These refugees are being supported entirely by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners. Consequently, their presence and that of their livestock has not yet sparked any visible tension with local communities over market access and the sharing of natural resources. In the best-case scenario, these local populations are oftentimes included in corresponding assistance programs.
The most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December 2013 is based on the following general assumptions:
- Above-average to average rainfall levels: According to the seasonal outlook for West Africa (by PRESAO, NOAA, ECMWF, IRI, and Burkinabé National Weather Service), there is a very high likelihood of normal to above-normal rainfall across the country between July and September. This outlook also predicts a normal to late planting season and normal to late end-of-season. With the country getting most of its yearly rainfall (80 percent) during this period, crop water requirements should be fully met and the growing season should go well.
- Above-average cereal production: With a normal growing season expected, the assistance furnished by the government and its partners in the form of farm inputs and equipment could help meet the Ministry of Agriculture’s grain production target of 5.5 million metric tons by November, which is 30 percent above the five-year average.
- Cottonseed production: The production target set by farmers’ organizations for the current growing season is 730,000 metric tons, which is 16 percent above last season’s levels and nearly 40 percent above the five-year average. While fertilizer is more expensive this year (15 percent above the five-year average), the set purchase price for cotton this season (235 FCFA) is still 20 percent above the five-year average.
- Grain trade flows: Grain trade flows, both domestically as well as imports from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, will be normal throughout the outlook period. However, there will be a larger than normal outflow of grain between July and August, mainly to Niger, before trade flows return back to normal levels in September with the upcoming harvests in Niger.
- Grain prices: Good market supplies of grain and below-average household demand, coupled with ongoing food assistance programs, could keep sorghum and maize prices near the five-year average throughout the outlook period. Lower millet market supplies compared to supplies of other grain crops and higher demand for millet during Ramadan (July 10th to August 10th) could keep millet prices five to 10 percent above-average between July and September. The upcoming harvests of short-cycle millet, cowpeas, and maize in October will put prices in line with normal seasonal trends, at levels close to the five-year average.
- Livestock grazing and watering conditions: Conditions will be near-normal, with good water levels in animal watering holes and good pasture availability throughout the outlook period. Animal health conditions, which have been relatively quiet for the past few months, are expected to remain stable.
- Livestock prices and terms of trade: With the early rains in April and May, the dry season (February-May) was less severe than usual for the animal population. As a result, livestock are in above-average physical condition and pastoralists are not forced to sell their animals. Thus, prices are expected to steadily increase, putting them approximately 20 percent above the five-year average between July and September. As of October, heightened demand for the approaching Feast of Tabaski (at the end of the month) and the end-of-the-year holidays will drive prices up at least 30 percent above-average. This will keep terms of trade favorable to pastoralists (approximately 10 to 15 percent above-average).
- Agricultural wage income: As usual, there will be a large demand for labor for farming operations and the tending of livestock throughout the outlook period. Moreover, the cost of day labor is up 25 to 50 percent, as an indirect result of increased competition from gold washing operations, which could increase agricultural incomes by the same margin.
- Health and nutrition: Global Acute Malnutrition rates should remain stable, if not in decline, compared to rates during the last four years (ranging from 10.2 to 11.3 percent). This is due to normal household food security conditions and ongoing programs since 2012 for the treatment or prevention of malnutrition in children under five years of age and pregnant and breast-feeding women. These programs are scheduled to continue through October.
- Refugee situation: With the recent Ouagadougou agreement between the Malian government and the Tuareg rebels, the presidential elections scheduled for July 28th of this year is assumed to go as planned and will eventually stabilize security conditions in that country. This could prompt part of the refugee population to begin returning to their homes by as early as August.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Even very poor and poor households will have normal food access between July and September, either from remaining food stocks from last November’s harvest or from market purchases made with cash from above-average household incomes. Between October and December, households will basically live off their harvests and will be able to market some of their crops (particularly cash crops) as a way to generate cash income without undermining their livelihoods. Thus, very poor and poor households are expected to experience Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity during the outlook period.
The combined effects of normal household food security conditions and programs for the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition will help bring down or at least stabilize malnutrition rates compared to the last four years. Thus, households in all livelihood zones will experience Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between July and December.
Areas of Concern
Livelihood Zone 8 (North Transhumant Pastoralism and Millet)
Conditions for transhumant livestock-raising activities, the main livelihood of local populations in this area, are marked by better than usual pasture and water availability as a result of this year’s early rains and cumulative seasonal rainfall totals which, as of June 30th, were 50 percent above the 1981-2010 average. There are also good market supplies of animal feed (agro-industrial byproducts) selling for, on average, 5,500 FCFA per 50 kg sack, 10 to 15 percent below the five-year average.
In the case of very poor and poor households, their food stocks from last November’s 40 percent above-average harvest are low, if not completely depleted. However, markets are well-stocked with larger than normal supplies of grain, mainly from the Pouytenga and Ouagadougou assembly markets. Staple grain prices are stable (in the case of sorghum) or down by three percent (in the case of millet) from last month and are down by an average of 18 percent from last year’s record levels. However, sorghum and millet prices are above the five-year average by 14 and 21 percent, respectively.
Milk supplies are normal although increasing demand, particularly from the refugee populations (who are large milk drinkers) and processing plants, has driven the purchase price of the milk sold by pastoralists up to 500 FCFA/liter, compared with 300 FCFA during a normal year.
There are fewer than usual sales of livestock (the main source of household income) for the purpose of purchasing grain due, in part, to ongoing food assistance and resilience-building programs and, in part, to the improvement in terms of trade for pastoralists. In fact, on average, livestock prices in general and prices for small animals in particular (male sheep and goats) are above the five-year average by 23 and 33 percent, respectively. Thus, the grain equivalent for the sale of a Sahelian male goat is currently 124 kg of millet or 148 kg of sorghum, which is above the five-year average by one percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Cash-for-work programs for poor households (by the World Food Program and Oxfam) are in the close-out phase. The Red Cross distributed one month’s worth of food rations to 1,500 poor households in June and is planning to repeat these distributions over the next two months. Another 650 metric tons of provisions from village-level stocks are available for sale at subsidized prices between June and September.
The area has 16,229 Malian refugees, or 32.5 percent of the country’s total refugee population. These refugees are being assisted by the government and the humanitarian community through distributions of monthly food rations. There are close to 37,000 head of livestock belonging to the refugees in this area, but the local authorities have earmarked special grazing areas for these animals to help promote peaceful coexistence with local populations.
The latest SMART survey conducted in September-October of last year put the Global Acute Malnutrition rate at 10.1 percent. Special programs for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, primarily by the WFP, have since been instituted for children under the age of five and pregnant and breast-feeding women. These programs will continue to operate between July and October, but will be targeted at children between the ages of six and 23 months. Based on the normal patterns of household food consumption in this area, there is currently Minimal/No (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in this livelihood zone.
The most likely food security scenario for the period from the July through December in this area is based on the following assumptions:
- Agropastoral production: According to the seasonal outlook by the National Weather Service, rainfall levels in this area between July and September are expected to be above-average to average. If this occurs, there could be better than usual levels of crop and animal production.
- Livestock grazing and watering conditions: Due to a good availability of pasture and water, there will be normal livestock grazing and watering conditions.
- Normal supply of milk and other animal products: There is normally a plentiful supply of milk between August and November due to livestock being in good physical condition and the return of transhumant livestock herds beginning in July.
- Market supplies: Markets will be well-stocked with grains and animal feeds (agro-industrial byproducts) throughout the outlook period. Current trader inventories are above-normal and household demand will be below-average.
- Grain prices: Staple grain prices will remain above the five-year average between July and September by 10 to 15 percent in the case of sorghum and 15 to 20 percent in the case of millet. For the case of millet, there will be above-average consumer demand from local households and refugees during Ramadan in July. If the growing season goes well, the upcoming October harvest should bring price levels down to less than 10 percent above the five-year average.
- Livestock prices: Prices for livestock will stay 10 to 20 percent above the five-year average between July and August. By September, assuming livestock are in good physical condition, increased demand for the upcoming celebration of Tabaski at the end of October and for the end-of-the-year holidays could put prices at least 20 percent above-average. Thus, trends in terms of trade will be in favor of pastoralists throughout the outlook period.
- Income from the sale of milk and dairy products: The good supply of milk between August and November and above-average demand from refugees in this area will generate 40 to 50 percent more income than usual.
- Wage income from farm labor: There will be normal levels of income from agricultural activities, as well as from livestock tending activities.
- Gold washing activities: Incomes from gold washing activities will be normal and will account for six to 10 percent of total household income.
- Remittances: As usual, income from migrant remittances and seasonal migration, which generally spikes during the lean season (July-September), will account for 14 to 19 percent of total household income.
- Household assistance and resilience-building program: Previously planned and funded assistance programs and activities (cash-for-work, food-for-work, nutritional assistance, resilience-building, etc.) by humanitarian organizations already in progress will continue as usual throughout the outlook period.
- Sales of cash crops: There will be near-normal levels of income from cash crop sales, particularly of cowpeas, between November and February.
- Sociopolitical crisis in Mali: The Malian conflict has not affected the normal flow of cross-border trade in this area. Normal trade flow will continue as the scheduled elections and deployment of U.N. troops to northern Mali will gradually stabilize the political situation in that country.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
There should be normal, if not above-average, household food consumption outcomes in this area throughout the outlook period. As usual, milk consumption will increase between August and November. Upcoming harvests of wild fonio (beginning in September), cowpeas (beginning in October), and grain crops (beginning in November) will help provide local households with an adequate, varied diet. At the same time, the pursuit of household resilience-building programs and the normal progression of the rainy season could help sustain and rebuild local livelihoods. Thus, very poor and poor households will experience Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between July and December.
In addition to ongoing programs for the prevention of malnutrition, blanket feeding operations for children between the ages of six and 23 months are scheduled to run through October. Thus, with normal household food access, Global Acute Malnutrition rates should stabilize, if not decline, in which case there will be Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in this area between July and September.
Livelihood Zone 7 (North and East Livestock and Cereals)
The early rains in this livelihood zone between April and May triggered earlier than usual planting activities in certain localized areas, most of which ended in failure due to the ensuing sporadic rainfall activity through the end of the second dekad of June. As a result, the planting season did not ramp up until the third dekad of the month. In general, cumulative rainfall as of June 30th was 10 to 50 percent above the 1981-2010 historical average.
Very poor and poor households are much less dependent than usual on market purchasing for their food supplies, with some households still living off crops from last November’s harvest. Cash-for-work programs currently in the close-out phase have helped at least 6,800 poor households maintain their food access on local markets.
As usual, markets are well-stocked with grains from the Ouahigouya, Pouytenga, and Ouagadougou markets. In general, prices for staple grains (millet and sorghum) are stable or down slightly (by five percent), from last month and are down five to 35 percent compared to the same time last year. Market prices are on par with (in Djibo and Sebba) or above the five-year average by six to 29 percent (in Dori and Bogandé). Households are less market-dependent than usual, with some households still living off crops from last November’s harvest.
Livestock prices on the two main livestock markets in Djibo and Dori, particularly prices for Sahelian male goats and sheep, are above the five-year average by seven to 29 percent. This is creating favorable terms of trade for pastoralists, with the grain equivalent for the sale of a Sahelian male goat ranging from 156 to 206 kg of millet or sorghum, or from five to 11 percent above the five-year average.
Milk supplies are normal, but the price of a liter of milk is up by 25 to 50 percent due to a growing demand from processing plants and the refugee population (for which milk is a dietary staple). This is helping to improve incomes for pastoral households.
The main income source for the purchasing of grain or animal feed is the sale of livestock (small animals and poultry). Gold washing activities have slowed with the beginning of the rainy season and the start-up of farming activities. However, some workers are still occupying gold washing sites despite an official ban during the rainy season. The purchase price of a gram of gold is down by 20 to 26 percent from last year, though it is still close to the three-year average (20,000 to 22,000 FCFA).
The area has 55.5 percent of the country’s Malian refugee population (27,757), which is concentrated mostly in Soum and Séno provinces. Their food and nutritional needs are being met by humanitarian organizations active in the area, particularly the World Food Program (WFP), which is distributing monthly food rations. There are close to 17,488 extra heads of livestock belonging to the refugees in the area, but the local authorities have earmarked special grazing areas for these animals to prevent potential disputes over the sharing of local resources (pasture and water resources) with local populations.
According to the findings of the SMART survey dating back to September-October of last year, Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates range from 10.1 percent to 12.6 percent. Though above WHO warning levels, they are still within the same range as they have been for the last three years (9.8 to 14. percent). Since July of last year, at least 6,000 children under the age of five and 1,200 pregnant or breast-feeding women have been assisted by programs for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition at health facilities through monthly distributions of food supplements. There is also a blanket feeding operation for children between six and 23 months of age scheduled to run through October. The combined effects of normal food access and of nutrition programs designed to prevent and treat malnutrition should help reduce or, at least stabilize, these GAM rates. Thus, there is Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in this area.
The most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December in this area is based on the following assumptions:
- Crop production: Based on the seasonal outlook by the National Weather Service, rainfall levels in this area in July, August, and September should be above-average to average. Thus, there could be above-average levels of crop production for grains, cowpeas, and peanuts during the October-November harvests.
- Livestock grazing and watering conditions: There will be normal grazing and watering conditions for livestock throughout the outlook period. During this period, there is generally an improvement in the physical condition of livestock between August and November with the good availability of pasture and animal watering holes.
- Milk consumption: Milk supply and household milk consumption will be normal. There is generally a large local supply of milk between August and November as a result of the better livestock body conditions during that time period.
- Market supplies: As usual, markets will be well-stocked with grains and animal feed throughout the outlook period.
- Grain prices: Staple grain prices will remain above the five-year average between July and September by five to ten percent in the case of sorghum and 10 to 20 percent in the case of millet. In the case of millet, there will be an increased demand from consumers during Ramadan in July-August. The upcoming harvests beginning in October could bring prices down to levels near or less than 10 percent above-average.
- Livestock prices: The earlier than usual improvement in the physical condition of animals and increased demand for livestock starting in September for the upcoming Feast of Tabaski and for the end-of-the-year holidays could keep livestock prices 10 to 30 percent above the five-year average. This will help protect local livelihoods and keep terms of trade in favor of pastoralists.
- Labor: There will be normal levels of income from farm labor and livestock tending activities, which usually account for 10 to 15 percent of total household income, particularly between July and November.
- Remittances: There will be near-normal levels of remittance or migration income, peaking during the lean season (July and September). This income source generally accounts for 10 to 25 percent of total household income.
- Small-scale gold washing operations: With the current purchase price of gold close to the three-year average, regular gold washing activities will generate near-normal levels of income.
- Crop sales: A larger harvest and near-average prices could mean above-average crop sales, particularly for cowpeas.
- Milk sales: There will be an above-average stream of income from the sale of milk and dairy products with the growing demand from local processing plants and the refugee population driving prices up.
- Global Acute Malnutrition rates: Normal patterns of household food consumption could keep GAM rates at or below levels during the last four years. Preventive programs designed to combat malnutrition could also help bring down these rates.
- Size of the refugee population: Planned measures by the international community designed to normalize socio-political conditions in Mali, including the holding of presidential elections on July 28th and the deployment of a peace-keeping force, should stabilize if not reduce the refugee population.
- Food assistance and other programs: These programs will be at above-average levels and aimed towards poor households, particularly refugees and households in host communities.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Due to better food access, the normal lean season (between June and September) will be easier than usual for area households. These households will continue to consume at least two meals a day and will have a good supply of milk as of August. The upcoming harvests of wild fonio and cowpeas in September-October will also help improve household food consumption. These good conditions will encourage the implementation of livelihood protection and recovery strategies focused mainly on livestock-raising. Thus, at least 80 percent of very poor and poor households will experience Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.
The combined effects of normal food access and ongoing programs for the treatment and prevention of malnutrition (the WFP is planning blanket feeding operations for 22,117 children between the ages of six and 23 months, including 2,123 children from 22 villages in refugee receiving areas, scheduled to run from June through October of this year) should help bring down or at least stabilize the GAM rates observed in October 2012. Thus, there will be Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in this area between July and December.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
Impact on food security outcomes
Poor distribution of rainfall
Despite a forecast for above-normal to normal rainfall levels, there is still the risk of a poor distribution of rainfall between July and September or a sudden dry spell in September, in which case there could be below-average levels of crop and animal production. There is also a possibility of voluntary stockpiling by traders, in which case grain prices could stay above the five-year average throughout the outlook period, curtailing household food access.
Crop losses due to desert locusts
The locust situation is currently stable. However, desert locust swarms present in swarm-producing areas in the southern reaches of North Africa could migrate southwards to summer breeding grounds in the northern reaches of the Sahelian countries. There are already some solitary insects and larvae present in the Aïr mountains of Niger. While Burkina Faso is not usually a locust breeding area, migrating locusts from Niger or Mali could cause damage to crops in livelihood zones 7 and 8, as was the case in 2004, putting local households at risk of food insecurity
Locally heavy flooding in certain areas
In the event of excessive rainfall, certain flood-prone areas could be left under water, which would be disastrous for local crops and livelihoods. This could result in the displacement of food-insecure populations, making them dependent on emergency food assistance.
Livelihood zones 7 & 8
Dispute over the July 28th presidential election returns in Mali
If the July presidential elections in Mali go as planned, they could help encourage Malian refugees to return home. On the other hand, violent clashes over the election returns could create an even larger influx of refugees into livelihood zones 7 and 8. A large new wave of refugees could cause trouble at refugee camps, trigger disputes with local populations over grazing grounds, and drive up market prices in response to the larger demand engendered by the refugee presence in these areas.
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.
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