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Favorable rainfall, but limited access to fields in the northern and eastern parts of the country

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burkina Faso
  • August 2020
Favorable rainfall, but limited access to fields in the northern and eastern parts of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through January 2021
  • Key Messages
    • Ongoing food assistance until September is currently one of the main sources of food, enabling Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in the provinces of Loroum, Soum, Séno, Yagha, Gnagna, Bam, Sanmatenga and Namentenga. This assistance is insufficient in the provinces of Oudalan and Komondjoari, which remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • The COVID-19 pandemic, which has been evolving steadily since mid-May, continues to adversely affect the economy, and the purchasing power of poor households, especially those in the informal sector in urban centers. It has also reduced remittances, which usually help poor households to get through the lean season.

    • The rainy season is proceeding normally in most parts of the country. However, owing to the large number of internally displaced people and producers’ limited access to their fields, agricultural production could be lower than last year and below the five-year average in the northern half and eastern part of the country. In more stable areas, production is likely to be similar to the average.

    • Although the situation has been relatively stable since mid-May, with 236 active cases as of August 24, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect normal economic recovery and external population movements, as land borders remain closed.
    • While security incidents and associated fatalities decreased in July compared to the previous three months, the security situation remains a concern and is disrupting agricultural activities and household livelihoods. There are 1,013,234 internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) in August 2020.
    • In addition to cases of community transmission, the opening of air borders has led to a few imported cases of COVID-19. Opening of land borders is likely to lead to a rise in such cases. It is therefore unlikely that the disease will be under control by January to enable a normal economic recovery.
    • With the presidential and legislative elections to be held in November, an upsurge in attacks and threats by terrorist groups in the coming months is anticipated. This could hinder the normal conduct of agropastoral activities, the functioning of markets and the adequate provision of humanitarian assistance.
    Livelihood zones 8, 7, 5 and 9
    • The relatively calm security situation since June has encouraged the return of some IDPs to their home areas to carry out agricultural activities. However, in many other areas, access to fields, pastures and artisanal gold-mining sites remains limited.
    • In the northern and eastern border provinces and surrounding areas, health centers and local markets remain closed or are operating on a skeleton basis. In the main markets, despite improved demand during Eid al-Adha, the supply of animals and visits by the different market participants are below average.
    • Sown areas are below average due to limited access to fields and the large number of IDPs. Despite favorable rainfall, agricultural production will be below average. In addition, as in the past season, looting and violence by armed terrorist groups may result in crop losses and abandonment.
    • Even with new harvests, the majority of households, especially in areas with high numbers of IDPs, will be more dependent than usual on food aid and the market as a source of food. Despite the dysfunctional markets, new harvests, food aid and government-subsidized cereal sales will ensure that price levels are similar to or slightly above the five-year average (Figure 3).


    Projected Outlook Through January 2021

    At the national level

    After dry spells lasting more than 10 days, which resulted in some replanting between the third dekad of June and the first dekad of July, the rains became more regular and well distributed across the country. This has produced good crop growth conditions, as in normal years, with tillering and stem elongation as the predominant stages. Attacks by the fall armyworm are lower than observed in the previous three growing seasons, and the treatment applied by producers and technical services has also been more effective.

    Government-subsidized supplies have been successfully channeled to producers, except in hard-to-reach areas. However, producers in the southern border areas, who have been used to making up shortfalls in fertilizer with cheaper purchases in neighboring countries (Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana), face difficulties in obtaining their supplies due to border closures.

    There is also a greater availability of agricultural labor in areas with high numbers of IDPs and in production areas in the south and west. On the one hand, border closures limited the migration of workers to coastal countries, and on the other hand, the number of IDPs seeking employment at gold-mining sites and on farms increased from 31,000 in February to about 89,700 in July. The wages for this daily agricultural workforce (XOF 1,000 to XOF 1,500) remain unchanged from the five-year average. Despite the higher supply, demand from mid-level and wealthy producers has not changed as they have not increased their areas under crops due to the slump in sales of their stocks and below-average prices.

    According to seasonal forecasts for August to September, moisture conditions in the country are expected to remain favorable with a late to normal end to the rains. With planted areas similar to the average in the major crop-growing areas, agricultural production could also be around average in these areas, but remain slightly below average for the country as a whole, given the expected decline in harvests in the areas most affected by insecurity.

    On the markets, retail prices for local cereals are generally stable for millet, but slightly lower than the five-year average for maize and sorghum (by 10 and 8 percent respectively). Nevertheless, in major urban centers, an increase of about 10 percent in the price of imported rice has been observed over the past month, due to a fall in import stocks. Since the end of July, however, transport companies have reported a resumption of inflows from the port of Lomé. The ongoing improvement in supplies and the government’s price controls on rice stocks (25 percent broken rice) are expected to produce an average trend in the price of imported rice.

    Overall, the majority of households have access to at least two meals per day, as in a normal year, mainly from market purchases bought with income from agricultural labor and the sale of animals. Given normal seasonal developments, the first green harvests of maize and millet are expected to be available from the beginning of September and will help to increase households’ food access. However, in large urban centers, poor households in the informal sector continue to see their purchasing power decline due to the slowdown in the economy. In addition, jobs are being lost in the private sector. Subsidies for electricity and water bills ended in June. As a result, the majority of poor households in stable areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity until January. However, a proportion (not higher than 20 percent) of the population in large urban centers, especially poor households in the informal sector, will continue to experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until January.

    Livelihood zones 8; 7; 5 and 9 (Sahel, Centre-Nord, Nord and Est)

    The reduction in incidents and fatalities during June and July compared to previous months of the year (Figure 2), especially in the Sahel region, not only helped to restore supplies to major markets, but also encouraged some IDPs to return to carry out agricultural activities in their home areas. In the municipalities of Pobé-Mengao and Tongomayel (Soum Province), Gorom-Gorom and Markoye (Oudalan Province), Gorgadji (Soum Province), and Sebba, Solhan and Titabé (Yagha Province), inter-village or inter-communal mobility is considered to be better than during the same period last year.

    Notwithstanding these returns, the planted areas in the Sahel, Nord, Centre-Nord and Est regions are likely to remain smaller than in the previous season. In relation to the period of intensive sowing, the number of IDPs increased from about 220,000 in July 2019 to more than 978,000 in July 2020, an increase of 345 percent. Agropastoral activities have been disrupted by more than 50 percent in the communes of Kain, Tangaye, Thiou, Banh and Sollé (Nord Region), Djibo, Barabulé, Nassoumbou, Koutougou, Arbinda, Déou, Tin-Akoff (Sahel Region), Pensa, Dablo, Namissiguima (Centre-Nord Region), and in Matiacoali, Botou, Bartiébougou, Foutouri, Tambarga, Madjoari and Logobou (Est Region).

    In these different regions, despite good rainfall conditions, agricultural production could be lower than last year and then the five-year average.

    Physical access by households and traders to different markets remains hampered by insecurity. In addition, some poor households have already sold off all their livestock to prevent looting by armed groups or due to difficulties with managing herds in host areas that lack adequate grazing space. As a result, the supply of animals in livestock markets remained below average in July (13 percent and 22 percent for small ruminants in Dori and Djibo respectively). In Djibo in particular, the supply of cattle fell by more than 50 percent compared to the average, as large livestock farmers abandoned the area. An increase in demand due to the Eid al-Adha celebrations contributed to higher prices at the Dori and Djibo markets, with increases of 23 percent and 20 percent respectively for rams, and of 6 percent and 29 percent for goats.

    On the main markets, prices for staple foods, in particular millet and sorghum, are generally stable or slightly lower than average. However, small increases can be seen in the markets of Djibo (for millet, 11 percent) and Kaya (for sorghum, 19 percent). The terms of trade are favorable to livestock farmers who still have animals. They are also close to the average.

    In addition to the closure of health centers (42 percent in the Sahel region and approximately 7 percent in the Centre-Nord region) due to insecurity, restrictive measures related to COVID-19 have resulted in a breakdown in nutritional supplies to these health centers. In the Centre-Nord region, which hosts 40 percent of IDPs, these cumulative food insecurity factors have led to an increase in the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (49 percent) and moderate acute malnutrition (89 percent) in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.

    Food aid and market purchases are the main sources of food for host households and IDPs. With normal availability of wild products (baobab leaf, cassia leaf, tora, sorrel), the majority of these households have access to two meals a day. Food aid (30 percent of which is in cash to purchase other goods such as soap, sugar, salt, etc.) covers 80 percent of caloric needs, and enables recipient households to make up for the income gap associated with declining remittances. The results of the household economic analysis carried out in July (Early Warning System, July 2020) show livelihood protection gaps for 33 to 100 percent of very poor households in all provinces of the Sahel region, Loroum (Nord Region), Bam and Sanmatenga (Centre-Nord Region) and Komondjoari (Est Region).

    The situation at the end of this year may be similar to last year when there was an increase in fatalities from October after the end of the rains, when terrorist groups were able to move around more easily. In addition, with the elections scheduled for November, these groups could be more active during the pre-election period. This will disrupt crops and access to food for populations in affected areas.

    Ongoing food assistance until September is expected to enable Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in the provinces of Loroum, Soum, Séno, Yagha, Bam, Sanmatenga and Namentenga, as it is likely to reach at least 20 percent of the population and cover 80 percent of their needs during the period. It should also contribute to maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) food insecurity in Yatenga and Gourma provinces. It is estimated that it will reach 24 percent of the population in each of these provinces. Food assistance coverage is inadequate in the Oudalan and Komondjoari provinces, which continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    The below-average harvests expected in October and November will not be sufficient to ensure typical household consumption. Soum and Sanmatenga provinces, where IDPs account for 40 and 30 percent of the population, respectively, and where access to fields is severely limited, will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between October and January.

    Figures Rainfall estimate anomaly on 20 August 2020/average 2009-2018: “Very important excess”; in most of the country, except for so

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Trends in security incidents and fatalities from January 2019 to July 2020: in July, fatalities were similar to summer 2019,

    Figure 2

    Figure 2.

    Source: FEWS NET/ACLED data

    Djibo market graph: Millet price (XOF/kg): Rising prices compared to last year and the average

    Figure 3

    Figure 3.

    Source: FEWS NET/Projection basée sur les données de SIM/SONAGESS

    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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