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The emergence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in Oudalan province

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burkina Faso
  • October 2021
The emergence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in Oudalan province

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  • Key Messages
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • With the loss of typical food and income sources, poor households in the north cannot meet their basic food needs. Asset erosion is most severe in the difficult-to-access communes of Oudalan province; Additionally, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have significant consumption gaps and will be vulnerable to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity between October 2021 and May 2022.

    • Insecurity, high input costs, and below-average water reservoir levels could limit market gardening activities and income between January and May in the Nord, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions. The pastoral lean season will also arrive early and last longer in these areas from February onwards, leading to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity throughout the outlook period.

    • The security situation continues to deteriorate in the north and east, leading to increased population displacement, loss of livestock, and disruption of agropastoral and commercial activities. Attacks have also become more frequent and intense in the southwestern regions of the country, where militant groups are attempting to extend their control over the Burkina Faso-Côte d'Ivoire border and the associated smuggling routes.

    • Expected crop production will be below average, with significant reductions in areas affected by insecurity due to anomalies, including the decline of the area planted due to insecurity, reduced yields due to floods, predators, and longer dry spells during critical cropping periods. As a result, grain demand is likely to outstrip supply, and prices will remain above seasonal averages between October 2021 and May 2022.


    Current Situation

    Since the start of terrorist attacks in the country in 2015, violence has tended to subside during the rainy season (mid-May to mid-October). While this trend continues into 2021, the third quarter of 2021 saw the number of security incidents in the north and east more than double compared with the same period in 2020 (Figure 1). This increase occurred despite the launch of the Houné counter-terrorism operations in northern Burkina Faso in May and the joint Burkinabe-Nigerian Operation Taanli in June, reflecting the growing confidence and capacity of militant cells in the north, Sahel, and east regions, where 75 percent of the incidents and more than 90 percent of the related deaths occurred between May and August. Attacks have also become more frequent and intense in the southwestern regions of the country, where militant groups are attempting to extend their control over the Burkina Faso-Côte d'Ivoire border and the associated smuggling routes.

    Continued attacks by Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) have led to increased population displacement, loss of livestock, and disruption of agropastoral and commercial activities. According to the Burkinabe Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (SP/CONASUR), in August, more than 1.4 million IDPs were reported throughout Burkina Faso, an increase of about 14 percent compared with May (Figure 2, Figure 3). Internal displacement (primary or secondary) continued in September and October following incursions by terrorist groups in the communes of Pobé-Mengao (toward Djibo), Arbinda (toward Foubé), Oursi and Markoye (toward Gorom-Gorom and Dori) and within Mangodara.

    Despite the total rainfall being similar to or above average, the season was characterized by a poor spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall. Dry spells of more than 10 days were observed locally in July in the Sahel, Boucle du Mouhoun, Cascades and east regions. This has delayed planting in these areas and also the crop maintenance schedule, increasing the number of weeds in fields and reducing crop yields. The dry spells persisted during August and September in several parts of the country, lasting over two weeks in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Nord, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions (Figure 4) and negatively affecting agricultural yields in these areas. In addition, localized flooding has caused crop losses of 4,178 ha in the Boucle du Mouhoun region and 502 ha in the east, according to reports from the Early Warning System joint mission. Armyworm attacks have been observed on a total of more than 33,600 ha since the beginning of the season (General Directorate of Plant Production, 10-day bulletin, September 2021) and mainly in the southern, eastern and western regions of the country. However, treatments were carried out in time, and the situation is now of less concern. However, attacks by grain-eating birds, particularly in Soum, Oudalan, and Séno provinces in September, caused above-average crop losses.

    Government support in inputs was close to the average (33,000 tons of fertilizer and 4,000 tons of seed). However, distribution delays were noted in all regions. In addition, the 20 percent increase in average market fertilizer prices — linked to higher import costs — has limited producer access and usage.

    Insecurity continues to affect agropastoral activities negatively. Nevertheless, there has been improved access to fields in the Centre-Nord region due to reduced incidents. In contrast, in the northern border areas (Loroum, Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha provinces), all provinces in the Est region, and the border communes with Côte d'Ivoire in the south, have been reduced by approximately 30 to 50 percent, according to key informants.

    According to reports from the Early Warning System joint mission in October, all these factors could contribute to crop losses of more than 50 percent and affect between 60 and 80 percent of producers in Soum and Oudalan. In the Nord region, 50 to 70 percent of producers could experience losses of at least 50 percent. Due to insecurity, livestock farmers’ access to resources also remains limited in several regions of the country. In the communes with a strong presence of IDPs (Titao, Djibo, Gorom-Gorom, Dori, Sebba, Kaya, and Kongoussi), livestock is highly concentrated on accessible pastures. In addition, the dry spells limited fodder production in these areas, and animal looting by terrorist groups and destocking continue to degrade household livelihoods.

    New crops are being harvested, but market supplies are below average. Trader cereal stocks are also below average. Despite the government ban on cereal exports, the collection of cereals on the market remains below the seasonal average. Inflows of maize from coastal countries (Ghana, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire), which usually contribute to increasing market supply, are also below average. In addition, insecurity continues to limit the internal cereal flows from the production areas in the south and west to the deficit areas in the north (Figure 5), and this is generating high transport costs and increased supply delays as the transport of goods and people is often only possible with the security escorts.

    Despite the harvests, household demand for agricultural products remains above average, particularly from IDPs. The government continues to sell cereals at subsidized prices in 208 outlets nationwide, but the quantities are insufficient to influence market prices significantly. Thus, in September, overall basic cereal prices (Agricultural Market Information System (SIM)/National Society for Food Security Stock Management (SONAGESS)) remained above those of the previous year (maize at 31 percent and sorghum at 12 percent), except for millet, which remained stable. Compared with the five-year average, prices increased 32 percent for maize, 10 percent for sorghum, and 6 percent for millet.

    In livestock markets in agropastoral areas in the north, many factors continue to adversely impact livestock availability in markets, including animal looting by terrorist groups, the erosion of household assets, the departure of large-scale livestock farmers, and the mobility restrictions due to insecurity. For example, in the Djibo market, overall supplies of livestock are down 10 percent. In the Gorom-Gorom market, the small ruminant supply is 21 percent below the average and 33 percent below the average for cattle. On the other hand, the Kaya market, which is more accessible, has become more dynamic, with supplies up by about 50 percent for small ruminants and 35 percent for cattle. As a result, prices (General Directorate for Sectoral Studies and Statistics (DGESS)/Ministry for Animal Resources and Fisheries (MRAH)) increased compared to the five-year average on the Dori and Djibo markets: 11 and 7 percent for bulls, 23 and 20 percent for rams, and 26 and 34 percent for goats, respectively.

    After a stable period between May and August 2021, the country has experienced increased community transmission of COVID-19 and related deaths since September. As of October 27th, there were 292 active cases, compared to 71 cases on August 30th. Cumulative deaths also increased from 172 to 214 during the same period. Vaccinations began on June 2, 2021, and are ongoing, but only 1.56 percent of the population has been vaccinated. Land borders remain closed to travelers, and the country continues to suffer the negative consequences of foreign trade restrictions, resulting in a decline in the stocks and a general increase in the prices of food and non-food products. Price increases are especially significant for construction materials and agricultural inputs, negatively affecting household purchasing power.

    Typically, new crops help improve food access and income for poor households, especially by selling cowpea and groundnut crops. This is the case in the relatively stable areas where the poor currently face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. In contrast, in the most insecure areas, IDPs and households under the control of terrorist groups continue to rely on the market and food assistance. In addition, grain-eating birds have destroyed the crops of poor host households in Soum and Oudalan provinces. According to key informants, food assistance was the primary food source for IDPs in August and September, as their income did not cover their food purchasing needs. Food assistance reached 24 percent of the population in Oudalan, 31 percent in Sanmatenga, and 44 percent in Soum, reaching households concentrated in the urban centers of more accessible provinces. In other provinces, food assistance coverage is below 20 percent. Despite the presence of assistance, in August, the results of the food security monitoring (SP/CONASUR) showed that IDPs continue to resort to negative food coping strategies, particularly by reducing daily portion sizes (94 percent), consuming alternative foods (35 percent), and borrowing and begging (22 percent). IDPs and poor host households in Soum and Séno in the Sahel region, Loroum in the Nord region, and Sanmatenga in the Centre-Nord region are vulnerable to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. In the inaccessible communes of Oudalan province (Tin-Akoff, Oursi, Déou, and Markoye), 60 percent of IDPs and poor host households consume only one meal daily, and some often go more than 24 hours without eating. Adults are forced to limit their consumption to feed children showing visible signs of malnutrition. IDPs in these communes — which represent 27 percent of the province's population — remain vulnerable to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity. There are also likely to be populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity where poor IDPs and host households lack access to basic social services in the communes of Mansila (Yagha province), Arbinda, Kelbo, and Tongomayel (Soum province), and Gorgadji (Séno province).

    In the Sahel and Centre-Nord regions — where 36 percent and 7 percent of health facilities, respectively, are closed — in the third quarter of the year, there was an increase in cases of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) in children of 27 percent and 21 percent, respectively. However, there was a decrease in cases of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) of 13 percent and 3 percent, respectively, compared with the same period in the previous year. The number of malnourished children could certainly be underestimated due to the population’s difficulties physically accessing health centers.


    The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2021 to May 2022 is based on the following key assumptions about how the national context will develop:

    • Security situation: Attacks by militant groups perpetrated against civilians and the military are expected to resume from November 2021 and increase until May 2022, coinciding with the prime gold-mining season — often a source of income for these groups. It will likely exceed the levels observed during the same period in 2020-2021 and occur primarily in the Est, Nord, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions. In addition to this seasonal increase in violence, ISGS forces are likely to drive the rise in violence against civilians and government forces in the northern and eastern regions. It is also likely that with the increasing access of jihadists to smuggling routes in the south, similar trends will be observed in the Cascades, Hauts-Bassins and Sud-Ouest regions, and the northern, and eastern regions.
    • Agricultural production: Due to the cumulative impacts of the reduction of areas planted because of population displacement and insecurity; lower yields due to flooding, predators, and longer dry spells during the critical crop development period; and reduced access to inputs, overall expected crop production could be below average. Significant production declines are expected in areas affected by insecurity and/or attacks by grain-eating birds (Centre-Nord, Sahel, and Est regions). As a result, early depletion of stocks from their own production could be recorded as early as February for poor households in these areas.
    • Pastoral situation and transhumance: Insecurity, acts of violence, and looting by terrorist groups will continue to limit the access of livestock farmers to resources. Therefore, it will not be favorable for the return of large-scale livestock farmers who have been living in the south or in coastal countries for two or three seasons. In addition, the dry spells limited fodder production and water reservoir levels, particularly in the Nord and Sahel regions. Pastures could therefore deteriorate quickly, as early as February. In communes with many IDP livestock farmers (Titao, Djibo, Gorom-Gorom, Dori, Sebba, Kaya, and Kongoussi), livestock destocking will likely increase to cope with the lack of resources during the lean season.
    • Market operation and staple food prices: New crops will improve market supply between October and December but at a below-average level, given the expected decrease in domestic production. As a result, trader stocks are atypically low, leading to more competition than usual in rebuilding stocks between November and March. Also, with the international restrictions, breweries and poultry feed processing units will continue to prioritize local purchases throughout the outlook period, leading to increased demand, in addition to the atypical demand from IDPs and host households whose stocks produced for their own consumption will run out early. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect stocks of imported products negatively. As a result, a seasonal decline in cereal prices between October and February could be observed, but with levels above the five-year average because of the above-average demand. Between March and May 2022, above-average seasonal price increases will be observed (Figure 6) due to the gradual depletion of household stocks. Thus, the current price increases for consumer goods (rice, cooking oil, fish) will likely continue until May 2022.
    • Market operation and livestock prices: Insecurity will continue to limit the attendance of typical livestock buyers at local markets in the far north. In addition, disruptions at border crossings due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions may continue, leading to below-average numbers of buyers visiting the markets. However, between October and January, holiday-season demand will push prices for small ruminants to above average levels. Between February and May, the physical condition of livestock will decline, as is typical during the pastoral lean season, with a negative effect on livestock prices. Nevertheless, additional demand during Ramadan (April-May) will lead to above-average prices for small ruminants.
    • Farm income: The increase in the prices of agricultural products will not be enough to compensate for the expected drop in production. As a result, the income generated could be below average. Between February and May, insecurity, high input costs and below-average water reservoir levels could limit market gardening activities. In addition, as in previous years, insecurity will limit access of foreign buyers to production sites, preventing producers from selling at competitive prices during the peak harvest season between February and April. Overall, farm income will remain below the seasonal average.
    • Non-farm income: Due to restricted movement in the north and east of the country, gold mining will continue to be limited in these areas. The deterioration of the security situation and the reduction of income-generating opportunities in the northern and eastern regions will also intensify the exodus to urban centers and gold-mining sites in the south and increase migration to neighboring countries. Despite the closure of land borders to travelers, migrants will pay higher transportation fees to circumvent official border crossings. However, slow-moving economic activities in the country and  in host countries limit employment demand and, in turn, income and remittances to regions of origin. The same applies to remittances from the diaspora, given the global economic situation. Until May 2022, it is highly unlikely that the pandemic will be fully under control in order to allow for the normal resumption of economic activities and remittances. However, economic activities are performing better than last year by easing restrictive measures, and remittances to places of origin could improve.
    • Humanitarian assistance: For the next few months, food assistance programming will not be available. However, coverage usually drops between October and January, with some programs stopping at the end of the lean season. Food and cash distribution plans for October to December (World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization) are expected to reach at least 26 percent of the population in the Centre-Nord region and 29 percent in Sanmatenga province in particular, and also to cover at least 50 percent of the needs of beneficiaries. In early 2022, the wait for funding could delay the delivery of assistance or limit coverage between February and June.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Despite expected declines in production and income, between October and January, food produced for their own production will be the primary food source for poor households in the relatively stable areas of the country. Food access will remain typical, leading to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. Harvests will be insufficient for most poor IDPs and poor host households to cover their basic food needs. With the erosion of their assets, poor IDPs and poor host households in Séno, Soum, Loroum, and Yagha provinces will be forced to resort to food restriction strategies, including reducing the number of meals, the quantity, and the quality of food consumed. They will be vulnerable to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Despite below-average production in Yatenga, Komondjari, and Gourma provinces, households can meet their basic needs with food from their own stocks. However, due to asset looting and below-average incomes, poor IDPs and poor host households will be unable to protect their livelihoods. As a result, they will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. In the Centre-Nord region, food assistance continues to cover the food needs of the displaced households, who will be Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). However, due to the loss of own production and income from livestock and large consumption gaps in inaccessible areas Emergency (IPC Phase 4 ) acute food insecurity is expected, notably in the Oudalan province. IDPs in Kelbo, Tongomayel, Arbinda, Gorgadji, and Mansila will also remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Between February and May, the early depletion of self-produced stocks, the seasonal rise in above-average prices, and the decline in incomes will lead to a deterioration in household food access. In the southwest of the country, attacks along the main trade route could isolate the commune of Mangodara in the Cascades region, leading to an increase in the number of IDPs, but this is likely to continue to affect less than 20 percent of the population. Due to a drop in production and typical income, IDPs will be unable to cover non-essential expenses and will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Poor IDPs and poor host households in the north of the country will be unable to cover their basic food needs. They will be forced to increase their reliance on atypical food restriction strategies, including begging and consuming wild foods. The increase in IDPs and limited access to health services could increase the prevalence of global acute malnutrition. Thus, in the Centre-Nord, Yagha, Soum, and Séno (Sahel region), Loroum and Yatenga (Nord region), Komondjari and Gourma (Est region) provinces, the poor will remain vulnerable to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Asset erosion in  Oudalan province and inaccessible communes, will also affect poor host households and IDPs. The proportion of households forced to resort to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) strategies could increase in these areas.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Larger-than-average institutional purchases

    An increase in institutional purchases at the national level or in neighboring countries could further increase demand on the market and increase projected price variations, contributing to the deterioration of household purchasing power and food consumption.

    Increase in fuel costs

    An increase in the price of fuel could negatively impact the prices of food and non-food goods and the cost of transportation, contributing to the deterioration of household purchasing power and negatively affect their food consumption.

    Increased insecurity


    An increase in incidents and fatalities could further disrupt market operations, reduce flows from southwestern production areas to northern regions, and hamper the delivery of assistance, limiting supply to the northern and making households vulnerable to significantly greater price variations than projected. These events, in turn, will lead to a deterioration of trade, household assets, food access, and livelihoods.

    Figures Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Figure 1

    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET, using data from ACLED

    Figure 3

    Source: FEWS NET, avec données de OCHA, SP/CONASUR

    Figure 4

    Source: FEWS NET/ avec données de SP/CONASUR

    Figure 5

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 6

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 7


    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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