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Insecurity remains the primary disruptor of markets, food assistance, and agricultural activities

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burkina Faso
  • June 2020
Insecurity remains the primary disruptor of markets, food assistance, and agricultural activities

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook Through January 2021
  • Key Messages
    • Market disruptions in the northern half of the country, with reduced inflows, fewer foreign buyers and limitations on physical access for households, are adversely affecting the terms of trade for livestock/cereals, which are 25 percent below average at markets in Dori and 11 percent below average in Djibo.

    • With their reduced purchasing power, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host households are reliant on humanitarian food assistance (HFA) as their main source of food. Households in the provinces of Loroum, Soum and Sanmatenga are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) as a result of the ongoing HFA program, coupled with the planned program through to September, which should reach 20–30 percent of the population and meet at least 80 percent of caloric needs.

    • However, the security situation is hindering the program in the provinces of Bam, Namentenga, Séno, Oudalan, Yagha, Gnagna and Komondjari, where insufficient food distribution means that households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September. Between October and January, households in the provinces of Soum, Oudalan, Loroum, Bam and Sanmatenga will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to poor harvests and high numbers of IDPs (over 20 percent of the population).

    • Despite seasonal forecasts pointing to favorable rainfall conditions, the worsening security situation in the provinces will disrupt agricultural activities. In the provinces on and around the northern and eastern borders, agricultural production may remain below average because of displacement and the fact that households will have limited access to their fields. In the western and southern production zones, where the situation is calmer, lower prices could dissuade producers from increasing their planting areas. Production in these zones is expected to be roughly in line with the five-year average.

    Areacurrent anomaliesprojected anomalies
    • Since mid-May, the number of active cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso has been falling, with a rise in the number of recoveries. As at 25 June, there were 959 confirmed cases, including 71 active cases. The government has responded to this improving health situation by lifting the restrictive measures, although the borders are still closed to travelers.

    • The security situation remains a cause for concern, with the number of incidents and fatalities more than doubling over the past month. There are ongoing reports of displacement, with people increasingly heading to major urban centers where assistance and income-generating opportunities are more readily available. According to the Burkinabe Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR), there were 921,471 IDPs in the country in June 2020, an increase of almost 9 percent since April.

    • Although the number of cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso is falling, the health authorities are likely to need to continue monitoring the situation throughout the outlook period. The adverse effect of the disease on the economy is such that normal economic activities cannot resume and households, especially those working in the informal sector, are unable to earn normal incomes. Moreover, the slowdown in global trade will continue to restrict imports, especially imports of rice, stocks of which are expected to remain below needs for the next three months.

    • Attacks and threats by terrorist groups will likely continue throughout the outlook period, causing further internal displacement, and disrupting markets, agricultural activities and HFA programs. Households could have limited access to their fields for agricultural production in the northern half and eastern areas of the country.

    Livelihood zones 8, 7, 5 and 9
    • Ongoing threats and increasing attacks by terrorist groups are adversely affecting physical access to markets for households and traders, who require escorts when supplying food to local markets. At the same time, livestock supply is 20–50 percent below average and livestock prices are 30 percent below average.

    • In the Sahel region, 54 percent of health care facilities are closed, and in the Centre-Nord region 16 percent are closed (Health Cluster, May 2020). Humanitarian access is limited in some communes with high IDP populations: Bourzanga, Pensa and Dablo (Centre-Nord region), and Gorom-Gorom, Tin-Akoff, Markoye, Djibo and Arbinda (Sahel region).

    • Despite the impending reopening of the land borders, the security situation will continue to adversely affect market functioning throughout the outlook period, as well as preventing livestock farmers from capitalizing on typical price increases in the run-up to Eid al-Adha in late July.  The terms of trade for livestock/cereals will therefore remain below average.

    • Limited access to health care could lead to an increase in the number of deaths, since the rainy season is typically associated with high prevalence of malaria and waterborne diseases. Malnutrition rates, which are already a cause for concern, could exceed seasonal averages due to households’ reduced access to food and the disruption of treatment programs.


    Projected Outlook Through January 2021


    At the national level

    Crops have been planted in most parts of the country following the early or timely arrival of the rains. In most areas of Burkina Faso, seasonal rainfall totals for 1 April and 20 June were above the short-term average (2009–2018) for the same period (Figure 1).

    In the south of the country, where planting mostly began in May, the plant health situation remains relatively calm after repeated armyworm attacks over the past four years. The current conditions are conducive to locusts remaining in the areas of concern (Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Sudan), meaning that a large-scale invasion in the Sahel, and in Burkina Faso in particular, is currently unlikely although it cannot be ruled out altogether. Given that the situation in the Sahel is currently favorable, and is likely to remain so, and given the current location of the locusts, some swarms could arrive in the region but not on a scale large enough to severely compromise harvests. However, although the country has a prevention and response plan in place, reduced access to insecure areas of the country could hinder locust search and control activities.

    The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso has been falling since May. However, the security situation remains a cause for concern and has even worsened since the outbreak of the pandemic. In May, there were 133 incidents and 585 fatalities in northern and eastern areas of the country — double the monthly average recorded since the start of the year (Figure 2). Incidents were reported in nine of the country’s 13 regions.

    To assist producers, the government has stepped up its support in terms of agricultural inputs, supplying 39,659 metric tons of fertilizer (compared with 35,500 tons last year) and 14,126 metric tons of seeds (compared with 4,300 tons last year) at stable prices relative to the past season. However, the security situation could prevent producers from accessing these inputs, especially in the northern and eastern border provinces. In addition, producers in the major western production zone could be dissuaded from increasing their planting areas by the fact that the producer price for maize is 17 percent below average, and by expectations of a 9.4 percent fall in the purchase price of cotton. Upcoming production volumes are expected to be close to average despite favorable rainfall forecasts.

    In addition to cotton, weaker global demand and disrupted exports are adversely affecting trade in cash crops (cashew nuts, shea nuts and sesame), leaving wholesalers with much larger stocks to manage. The availability of local cereals from traders remains 30–50 percent above average, as household demand from markets is dampened by food distribution programs and ongoing government sales of 25,000 metric tons of cereals at subsidized prices in 150 stores nationwide. Overall, maize and sorghum prices are below the five-year average (17 percent below for producer prices and 12 percent below for consumer prices). Despite a slight increase in demand for millet during the recent months of fasting, the price of millet also remains below average (10 percent below for producer prices and 7 percent below for retail prices). With the timely arrival of the season and favorable precipitation forecasts, large-scale producers will place their stocks on the market. As a result, the supply of cereals will continue to exceed demand and prices will remain broadly in line with or slightly below seasonal averages between June and September.

    The harvest and marketing of market garden products coincided with the restrictive measures due to COVID-19. This situation disrupted trade between production zones and urban centers, and prevented the main foreign buyers (from Ghana and Togo) from visiting sites. As a consequence, harvests were lost and prices fell by around 30 percent relative to last year. In a normal year, sales of market garden crops are the main source of income for 20–30 percent of households in the provinces of Yatenga, Loroum, Bam, Namentenga and Oubritenga. The decline in income from this source will leave households with reduced purchasing power to buy food during the lean season, as well as reducing access to inputs for the start of the next market gardening season in November.

    The land borders are still closed, which is preventing seasonal migration to coastal countries. For workers who managed to migrate before the closure, the economic slowdown in host areas is adversely affecting employment opportunities and income in the informal sector. Seasonal remittances to households in areas of origin will therefore be below average. Reduced migration to other countries and the security situation in the north of the country will prompt more workers to migrate to calmer areas in the south, thereby increasing the supply of agricultural and gold-mining labor in these zones. In the cotton sector, where demand for labor is generally greatest, producers may offer below-average daily or seasonal rates on account of expected lower purchase prices for the upcoming harvest.

    Food and cash distributions to 413,000 people between May and July in the country’s two major urban centers (Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso) and surrounding areas, coupled with subsidized electricity and water bills between April and June and the sale of cereals at subsidized prices, are helping poor households in the informal sector most affected by the COVID-19 restrictions to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) pending the gradual recovery of economic activity.

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

    The security situation is continuing to adversely affect market supplies and functioning in the northern and eastern border provinces. In May, terrorists attacked the markets in the provinces of Loroum and Kompienga. Markets in the province of Soum are difficult to access because of the threat of terrorist attacks along the roads. At Djibo market, the price of millet was consequently 23 percent above the five-year average. Likewise, livestock feed prices at Dori and Djibo markets are 20–50 percent above their normal levels at this time of year (the pastoral lean season). Cereal prices could remain above their seasonal averages until January 2021 due to disrupted market functioning and the likely fall in production in the zone (Figure 3).

    In addition to the security situation, the restrictive measures in response to COVID-19 have limited the presence of major buyers (generally from Ghana, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire) at livestock markets. At Dori and Djibo markets respectively, supply of small ruminants was 38 percent and 30 percent below average in May, while supply of cattle was 50 percent and 24 percent below average in the same month. Livestock farmers have reduced supply capacity following multiple instances of looting by armed groups and destocking over the past three years. Moreover, the security situation is reducing livestock farmers’ physical access to markets. On average, prices for small ruminants are down 30 percent and prices for bulls are also down 30 percent. As a result, the terms of trade for livestock/cereals are 11–25 percent below average. Although demand is strengthening in the run-up to Eid al-Adha in July, it remains 20 percent lower than supply. Livestock prices could remain below average at least until the end of the lean season in September.

    In the Sahel region, where global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence remains high (12.6 percent, October 2018), 54 percent of health care facilities were closed at the end of April due to the security situation, compared with 40 percent in October 2019.  The security situation is also hindering malnutrition prevention and treatment programs. In the first quarter of 2020, reported cases of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) represented 4.3 percent and 11.1 percent respectively of expected cases, compared with 7.5 percent and 19.4 percent in 2019. Acute malnutrition rates in this region and the surrounding areas could increase under the combined effect of health care facilities closing or operating at reduced capacity, access to food and livelihoods deteriorating, and childhood disease prevalence rates rising during the season. The IPC update indicates that, between April and July, provinces in the Sahel region will experience Critical (IPC Phase 4) acute malnutrition, while the surrounding provinces will experience Serious (IPC Phase 3) acute malnutrition.

    Due to the security situation, between 70 and 75 percent of programmed HFA was distributed each month before the COVID-19 crisis. In March, the distribution rate fell to 63 percent after the various partners adjusted their implementation arrangements following the outbreak of the pandemic. The government has shifted its response to COVID-19, and cash transfers, food distribution programs and subsidized cereal sales are more focused on the country’s two major cities (Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso). The security situation could continue to hinder the regular distribution of HFA in sufficient quantities. Programmed distributions through to the end of the lean season in September will reach less than 20 percent of the population in the provinces of Bam, Namentenga, Séno, Oudalan, Yagha, Gnagna and Komondjari. IDPs and host populations in these provinces will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). HFA coverage rates could be higher in the provinces of Loroum (21 percent), Soum (24 percent) and Sanmatenga (30 percent), and could potentially meet at least 80 percent of recipients’ caloric needs, meaning that households in these provinces will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Without HFA, the provinces of Soum, Oudalan, Loroum, Bam and Sanmatenga could remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between October and January due to poor harvests and high numbers of IDPs (representing over 20 percent of the population).

    Figures Cumulative rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly at 20 June 2020 vs. 2009–2018 average: above-average rainfall (105–150 percent) in

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Graph of security incidents and fatalities from January 2019 to March 2020 An increase in the number of fatalities (from appr

    Figure 2

    Figure 2.

    Source: FEWS NET/ACLED data

    Graph of projected retail price of millet (XOF per kg) at Djibo market: between May 2020 and January 2021, prices are project

    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 2


    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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