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The food crisis could continue in and around Soum province

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burkina Faso
  • August 2019
The food crisis could continue in and around Soum province

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In addition to the usual food difficulties experienced during the lean season, insecurity has resulted in nearly 238,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and is having a negative impact on people's livelihoods, putting them at risk of falling into Crisis (IPC Phase 3), particularly in Soum province and neighboring communes. 

    • Increasing flows of IDPs and limited population movements are negatively affecting agricultural activities, which are down by between 20 and 70 percent in most communes in the north of the country. In addition, delayed crop development and poor spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall could reduce yields locally. In short, the upcoming harvests are expected to be below the national average.

    • In addition to the decline in cereal demand due to higher production over the past year, insecurity is also preventing cereals from being transported from production areas in the west to the north of the country. Traders and large producers are therefore having difficulty selling their stocks. In some markets in large production areas, basic cereals are down by 30 to 40 percent compared with the five-year average.



    • After a difficult start to the season, with planting delayed by one to two dekads, the agricultural growing season is characterized by poor spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, which is preventing crops from catching up, except in the east of the country.
    • Instead of the usual upward trend, staple food prices are declining due to supply outstripping demand and also due to the reduction in food being transported to the north of the country because of insecurity.
    • Between August and October, precipitation is expected to be similar to or above normal (African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development [ACMAD], August 2019). However, the possibility of average to longer dry periods cannot be ruled out (National Meteorological Agency [ANAM]). With crops already delayed, yields could be similar to or lower than average.
    • Insecurity will continue to limit cereal flows to the north of the country. In more stable areas, access to new harvests will reduce household demand on the markets. As a result, prices for basic cereals will remain similar to or below average.
    Livelihood zones 7, 8 and 5
    • Terrorist threats and attacks are continuing to increase the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), which currently stands at around 270,000 (Burkinabe Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [CONASUR/OCHA], August 2019). In Soum province and the surrounding communes, IDPs account for more than 20 percent of the population and live mainly off-site. 
    • Due to insecurity, agricultural activities are reduced by between 20 and 70 percent in the communes. Theft and looting of livestock, limited population movements and curfews are negatively affecting households’ livelihoods.
    • Off-site IDPs and host households are being forced to either sell their animals to buy food or to limit the quantity and quality of meals because assistance is irregular and is reaching only 12 percent of the population at risk of falling into Crisis (IPC Phase 3), especially in and around Soum province.   
    • Since the beginning of the year, IDPs have increased at an average rate of 20 percent per month. On top of the areas affected by threats and attacks, populations are also moving towards urban centers considered to be safer.
    • As a result of insecurity, agricultural production could decline by at least 50 percent in Soum province and neighboring communes. In all communes affected by insecurity, the drop in production could affect 2.8 million people.
    • In a normal year, income from livestock sales and gold panning is mainly used to bridge the production gap. The issues at local markets and limited access to gold mining sites will continue to limit this income. This will leave IDPs and host households to rely on the 29-percent-funded humanitarian assistance (OCHA, August 2019) and remittances from relatives outside the country. They will continue to be at risk of falling into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).




    At the national level

    There were complications at the start of the season in Burkina Faso due to the long dry spells recorded in June. Sowing intensified from the first dekad of July onwards, following delays of one to two dekads. Since July, there has been poor spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall, with seasonal totals as at 20 August ranging from 187 mm in eight days of rain in Gorom-Gorom in Oudalan province to 871 mm in 53 days in Bobo-Dioulasso in Houet province. These cumulative rainfall totals are below normal local levels in the center, north and west of the country. Between August and October, average to above-average rainfall is expected (ACMAD, August 2019), though it will not be enough to make up for the delay in the development of the crops that have just started bolting. In addition, the National Meteorological Agency (ANAM) projects long to medium dry spells during the period, which may result in below-average local cereal crop yields. Added to this agro-climatic situation is the negative impact of insecurity, which is reducing the area of land sown in the northern part of the country. Overall, the upcoming harvests are therefore expected to be below average.

    As a result of the good production of the past season and the reduction in internal flows between the western and northern parts of the country due to insecurity, traders and large producers are having difficulty selling their cereal stocks. External flows to neighboring countries are also declining compared to normal. As a result, since June, there has been a downward trend in staple food prices, which contrasts to the seasonal increase usually recorded. Compared with the five-year average, staple cereals have fallen by about 15 percent for consumers and 20 percent for producers.  In some remote, high production areas, the decline is as much as 30–40 percent compared with the average. This is the case in the markets of Solenzo, Hamélé, Kompienga, Fara, Faramana, N’dorola. This drop in price could discourage producers, particularly maize producers, from maintaining or increasing their land.

    Even with lower production prospects, the drop in prices and slump in sales experienced by traders, the usual competition to replenish stocks at the end of the harvest in October will reduce. Government security stocks are currently at their usual levels. However, in view of the increasing assistance needs of IDPs and host households, further purchases will be required in the coming months. This demand will not be sufficient to cause a major market disruption. As a result, staple food prices are expected to fall below the seasonal average.

    In relatively stable areas, household stock levels, the availability of leafy vegetables and affordable market prices are favoring household access to food. Between October and March, new harvests are expected to help maintain typical consumption and allow these areas to remain in Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) until January 2019.

    Livelihood zones 8, 7 and 5

    Livelihood zones 8, 7 and 5 (Sahel region and neighboring provinces of Loroum, Bam, Sanmatenga, Namentenga, Gnagna and Komondjari) are the areas most affected by terrorist groups’ acts of violence. These areas account for more than 90 percent of IDPs, with an average monthly increase of about 20 percent. In Soum province and the communes, the proportion of IDPs averages 25 percent of the population. In Djibo commune in particular, the proportion is 60 percent.

    Displacements and limited population movements are negatively affecting agricultural activities, which have declined by around 70 percent in Soum province and by around 20–50 percent in neighboring communes. In all communes most affected by insecurity, the decline in agricultural activities could affect 2.8 million people.

    At the pastoral level, new pasture growth is satisfactory, but such areas are not accessible due to threats of looting. Transhumant herders, who usually return at the beginning of the season, have remained in the south of the country or the north of coastal countries. This absence is reducing the availability of milk for households and local milk processing units.

    IDPs and host populations are dependent on humanitarian assistance. Livestock, which is usually their source of income, is looted by terrorists, thus limiting their access to markets. In addition to financial difficulties, physical access to local markets is difficult. Only displaced persons in urban centers (Djibo, Barsalogho, Kaya, Gorom-Gorom and Dori) are able to sell their animals for food. Assistance provided during the first half of the year was irregular, reaching only 30 percent of IDPs on average per month. In the last two months, it has covered about 70 percent of IDPs, though this represents only 12 percent of the total population. Most households have therefore developed coping strategies, which involve reducing the quantity and quality of meals. This is putting them at risk of falling into Crisis acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3).

    Assistance plans for August and September are expected to reach coverage levels similar to those of the previous two months. However, beyond the lean season, food security programs are only funded at 29 percent.  With the increase in the number of IDPs, the abandonment of fields and the low harvest expected in October, food assistance will remain necessary to avoid a food crisis between December and March, particularly in Soum province and neighboring communes. In the other communes in livelihood zones, 7, 8 and 5, the decline in agricultural production and market disruptions will negatively affect the livelihoods of poor households who may experience Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2). 

    Figures Projected price per kg of millet on the Djibo market

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.


    Burkina Faso Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year  Mid-May to mid-October is the rainy season. September to January is the ma

    Figure 3


    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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