Food Security Outlook

Minimal food insecurity across the country lasting through March

October 2013 to March 2014
2013-Q4-1-1-BF-fr

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • In general, above-average production forecasts hold promise for the replenishment of household food stocks with new crops from ongoing harvests. Poor households are expected to have regular food access and pursue their normal livelihoods and should thus experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between now and March of next year.

  • Very poor and poor households in the North and East Livestock and Cereals livelihood zone in the Sahelian region should be able to offset the expected shortfall in cereal production without resorting to atypical sales of livestock and, thus, should also experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between now and March of next year.

  • Rising prices and increased production will boost household income, particularly income from sales of livestock and cash crops. This will help improve household terms of trade and strengthen livelihoods.

Nationwide Overview

Current situation

The regular rainfall in August and into the first dekad of September helped foster good crop growth and development in all parts of the country. Satellite (NDVI) imagery tracking the progress of vegetative growth puts vegetation levels as of the first dekad of October close to the short-term (2001-2010) average. However, the 10 to 20 day dry spells reported in the northern reaches of the country (the Northern, Sahelian, and North-Central regions) in the second and third dekads of September hampered the maturation of millet and sorghum crops, reducing crop yields. The erratic rainfall in June and July in areas along the country’s borders with Côte d’Ivoire (the Midebdo, Digouê, Kampti, and Niangoloko areas) and Ghana (the Ouéssa, Niogo, Batié, and Legmoin areas) delayed harvests in these areas. This year, the first yam harvests, which normally begin in early August, did not get underway until the end of that month, though output was still on par with average.  Lowland rice and maize crops did not start to mature until the end of September, instead of at the end of August, as is normally seen. Continuing rainfall in these areas through the end of October is essential. In general, plant health conditions are stable in all parts of the country, with the usual threats from cereal-eating birds to crops in the country’s Northern (Passoré and Loroum) and Sahelian regions (Kelbo, Diguel, Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Baraboulé).

Herbaceous vegetation in livestock-raising areas quickly dried out with the shortage of rainfall in these areas in the first week and a half of September, impairing the quality of pasture. However, pasture availability and the levels of animal watering holes are currently satisfactory and similar to normal. In fact, the early April rains helped mitigate the usual water problems for animal between April and June, keeping livestock in good physical condition. Accordingly, there are currently no signs of seasonal migratory movements by transhumant livestock.

The household food security situation is improving with the help of crops from recent harvests. As part of its assistance policy for structurally food-insecure populations, the government is also distributing food supplies (6,000 metric tons) to 500,000 recipients to meet their needs between October and December of this year. To supplement its ongoing subsidized cereal sales programs (8,000 metric tons) in the Sahelian, North-Central, Northern, Central-Eastern, and Eastern regions, the government opened up 160 test shops (two per province, 37 in Ouagadougou, and 17 in Bobo-Dioulasso) selling cereals (rice and maize) at subsidized prices. Ongoing household food and nutritional assistance programs by humanitarian organizations also continued into October, providing cash payments to 14,000 households concentrated mainly in the Sahelian (livelihood zones 7 and 8) and Northern (livelihood zone 5) regions to help facilitate their food access on local markets. Moreover, since July, monthly protective food rations have been distributed to children between the ages of six and 23 months, including 27,821 children in the North-Central region, 18,428 in the Sahelian region, and 15,502 in the Northern region. In general, the larger than usual number and scale of these governmental and humanitarian programs is at least 40 percent above the five-year average.

Markets are still well-stocked with cereal. Carry-over trader inventories are larger than at the same time last year and above the five-year average. There is a normal flow of cereal trade from high-production areas (in the western part of the country) to structurally-deficit northern areas (in the Sahelian, North-Central, and Northern regions). Prices have been stable since last month and are at or below the five-year average. More specifically, sorghum prices are on par with the average, millet prices are four percent above-average, and maize prices are nine percent below-average.

The main sources of household income are sales of forest products (shea nuts, seeds and locust beans), crops (maize, groundnuts, and cowpeas), and livestock and proceeds from gold panning activities. There are typical levels of income from these sources and households are satisfied with current purchase prices, which is enabling them to meet current healthcare expenses and cover the cost of their children’s education while preserving their livelihoods.

There was a growing demand for livestock during the past month, particularly for small animals, to meet needs for the celebration of Tabaski as well as for animal-fattening ventures. As a result, market prices for cattle and sheep in livestock-raising areas (Djibo, Dori, and Gorom-Gorom) are up from the same time last year by 23 and 17 percent, respectively, while prices for goats are unchanged. Livestock prices are anywhere from 33 to 37 percent above the five-year average.

Malian refugees in Burkina Faso (49,975 refugees as of April 22, 2013) are receiving food and non-food assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners, with current commitments extending through December of this year. With the stabilization of the socio-political situation in Mali, a number of refugees (940 persons) have reportedly returned to their homes since July.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2013 through March 2014 is based on the following general assumptions:

  • Cereal production: The country as a whole is expecting an above-average cereal harvest for its main cropping season. In general, preliminary estimates for this cropping season put nationwide cereal production 21 percent above the five-year average due, mainly, to a good (50 percent larger than usual) maize crop, which thrived on the good distribution of rainfall between the last weeks of July and the first weeks of September.
  • Cash crop production: With the poor start of the rainy season, farmers unable to plant as large an area in cereal as they had hoped chose to focus on cash crops in general and sesame and cowpeas in particular, planting, respectively, 65 percent and 74 percent larger areas in these crops. Current estimates put the size of cotton, sesame, and cowpea harvests above the five-year average by 18.39 percent, 36 percent, and 36.59 percent, respectively.
  • Off-season crop production: In general, water levels in reservoirs are satisfactory and near-average. As a result, off-season farming activities should procede normally, with increasingly widespread harvests between February and March, and production levels close to the five-year average. Off-season crops like onions, tomatoes, and cabbage will help improve household food security and income.
  • Cereal prices: Movements in cereal prices will follow normal seasonal trends, with prices staying 15 percent below the five-year average between October and December and running slightly above-average, by 5 to 10 percent, between January and March. This year’s larger carry-over stocks with traders and ongoing government assistance programs helping to reduce market demand from households will put prices 10 to 20 percent below figures for the same time last year. These prices will help facilitate household access to local markets, though the availability of fresh cereal crops should limit demand throughout the outlook period.
  • Institutional cereal procurements: There will be larger than usual needs for the replenishment of food security stocks. In fact, the government has been selling their stock of over 8,000 metric tons of cereal at subsidized prices since August and will be distributing another 6,000 metric tons of cereal, free of charge, between October and December as part of its assistance program for structurally food-insecure populations. Accordingly, it will need a minimum of 14,000 metric tons of cereal between January and May of next year to rebuild its general reserves, 40 to 75 percent more than usual. In addition, the government is planning a 50,000 metric ton procurement by SONAGESS (37,500 MT of sorghum, millet, and maize and 12,500 MT of local rice) for the implementation of its food security assistance project.
  • Cereal trade: There will be a normal flow of domestic and foreign cereal trade throughout the outlook period and, as has been the case for the past 12 months, there should be no major restrictions on trade with the coastal states (Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire), Mali, or Niger.
  • Livestock grazing and watering conditions: Conditions will be near-average, with good water levels in animal watering holes and an adequate supply of natural pasture and crop residues throughout the outlook period. Accordingly, there will be a normal pattern of seasonal migration by transhumant herds beginning in February/March.
  • Livestock prices and terms of trade: Prices will stay at least 30 percent above the five-year average between October and December with the growing demand for livestock for the celebration of Tabaski and the year-end holidays and with households with access to fresh crops no longer forced to sell their animals in order to buy food. However, as of January, the seasonal decline in demand and deterioration in the physical condition of livestock due to the usual grazing and watering problems will drive down seasonal prices to levels close to the five-year average, translating into near-average terms of trade.
  • Farm income: Income from the sale of crops in general and cash crops in particular will outstrip the five-year average. This expected boost in income is attributable mainly to a larger volume of production, with prices staying close to the five-year average. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, this increased production should boost the income of all households by 8.1 percent and that of poor rural households by 12.4 percent. Poor households in particular will normally sell more crops between November and February to cover expenses for the year-end holiday season, as well as the cost of their children’s education and traditional ceremonies.
  • Remittance income: There should continue to be a normal flow of migration and remittance income with the stable political situation in destination countries (Côte d’Ivoire).
  • Health and nutrition: Global acute malnutrition rates should show little if any change from current figures dating back to 2008. This year’s lower rates compared with figures for last October (between 10.2 and 11.3 percent) are attributable to normal household food security levels and ongoing assistance programs for children between the ages of 6 and 23 months and pregnant and breast-feeding women conducted since July designed to prevent malnutrition.
  • Refugee situation: The flow of refugees voluntarily returning to their homes since July will continue with the improvement in security conditions in northern Mali.
Most likely food security outcomes

Household food security conditions throughout the outlook period will be in line with the norm, particularly for very poor and poor households, whose food security will be ensured mainly by food stocks from ongoing harvests. Moreover, the government’s food assistance program will strengthen the food security situation for 500,000 at risk households identified by the government for the period from October through December. In addition, the larger stream of income from cash crops will enable households to strengthen their livelihoods. Accordingly, very poor and poor households should experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) during the outlook period from October 2013 through March 2014.

The combined effects of assistance programs for the prevention of acute malnutrition and the good household food security situation since November of last year will help stabilize if not bring down malnutrition rates compared with figures for last October. As a result, there will be Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) between October of this year and March of next year in all livelihood zones.

Areas of Concern

Livelihood zone 8 (“North Transhumant Pastoralism and Millet”)

Local livelihoods in this area where very poor and poor households normally account for 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of the local population are based mainly on millet production, which meets four to five months worth of household food needs, and transhumant livestock-raising.

Current situation

The cropping season in this area has proceeded typically, with season-long cumulative rainfall totals for the period from April 1st through September 30th ranging from 500 to 700 mm, or at or above the 1981-2010 average, with a good distribution of rainfall between August and the first weeks of September. However, since September 10th, there has been only limited, erratic rainfall. Nevertheless, all major crops, namely millet, sorghum, and cowpeas, were able to fully mature in spite of the threat from cereal-eating birds, causing typical losses, mainly in the Tin-Akoff, Oursi, Déou, Koutougou, and Nassoumbou areas.

Conditions for transhumant livestock-raising activities, the main local livelihood, are marked by adequate pasture and water availability compared to normal. As a result, animals are in good physical condition and birth rates are in line with the norm. Good milk availability is helping to improve household food security and income. The price of a liter of milk is up by 20 to 50 percent due to demand from local processing plants and the area’s refugee population. Trading in livestock (the main source of household income) has picked up since September with the growing demand for animal-fattening ventures and, particularly for the celebration of Tabaski. As a result, on average, prices for livestock in general and small animals (male goats and sheep) in particular are 10 to 22 percent higher than last year and anywhere from 4 to 38 percent above the five-year average.

Ongoing humanitarian programs in this area are more extensive and more diversified than usual as part of efforts to build resilience and ease hardship conditions for households during the lean season. The combined effects of the availability of fresh crops from ongoing harvests and these assistance programs are helping to strengthen the food access of poor households. Such programs involve cash payments to over 6,600 households (by the NGOs Oxfam and Christian Aid), the sale of cereal by the government at subsidized prices (3,784 metric tons) to 21,000 of the area’s poorest households, and the distribution of protective food rations for children between the ages of 6 and 23 months (by the WFP, Oxfam, and Christian Aid). The area’s 16,229 Malian refugees are receiving assistance from the UNHCR and its partners in the form of monthly food rations and cash payments.

The availability of stocks of freshly harvested crops is limiting the market dependence of local households for their food supplies. However, staple cereal prices are still above the five-year average by 16 percent in the case of millet and 12 percent in the case of sorghum. Crops from recent harvests, supplemented by ongoing assistance programs, are helping to ensure normal food intake by local households without resorting to atypical coping strategies such as the thinning of their livestock herds.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2013 through March 2014 in this area is based on the following assumptions:

  • Crop production: With the cropping season in this area progressing normally despite the sporadic rainfall since September 10th and the usual losses of crops to cereal-eating birds, final production figures for cereal and cowpea crops should be near-average. According to preliminary performance data for the croping season supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, cereal production is 20 percent above the five-year average and should meet household needs.
  • Seasonal migration by transhumant livestock: Based on the satisfactory water levels in animal watering holes and the normal supply of herbaceous pasture, there will be a normal pattern of seasonal migration by transhumant livestock herds beginning sometime between February and March.
  • Milk availability: The good physical condition of livestock will mean better milk availability between October and December, which will help improve household food security and income, and normal milk availability as of January.
  • Market supplies: Larger than usual trader stocks and a weaker than usual household demand will keep markets well-stocked with cereal and agro-industrial byproducts used as animal feed throughout the outlook period.
  • Cereal prices: Millet and sorghum prices will move in line with normal seasonal trends, staying close to the five-year average.
  • Livestock prices: The good physical condition of livestock and growing demand for the celebration of Tabaski (in October) and the year-end holidays will keep prices at least 20 to 30 percent above the five-year average between October and December and near to slightly above-average between January and March of next year, strengthening terms of trade for pastoralists throughout the outlook period.
  • Milk sales: Good milk availability between October and December and the growing demand from local processing plants and the area’s refugee population will boost normal income levels from the sale of milk and dairy products by 40 to 50 percent.
  • Farm income: The usual stream of income between November and February from sales of crops in general and cowpeas in particular will be in line with the norm.
  • Gold panning activities: There will be a stable flow of Income from gold panning activities, accounting for 6 to 10 percent of total household income. These activities are normally more widespread between November and May.
  • Remittances: As is normally the case, short-term seasonal migration and remittance income will account for 14 to 19 percent of total household income.
  • Household assistance: Aid from the government and its foreign partners in the form of food assistance and cash payments for poor households will be scaled up as part of resilience-building efforts. In addition to its ongoing cash payments to 6,600 households, the government will distribute 170 metric tons of free food supplies to 1,774 households between October and December.
Most likely food security outcomes

Ongoing harvests, good milk availability, and food assistance programs will translate into better than usual food intake by local households between October and December, followed by average food intake between January and March, with very poor and poor households continuing to live off their harvests, as usual, while preserving their primarily livestock-based livelihoods. Accordingly, very poor and poor households will experience Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between October and next March.

The monthly food rations (cereals, pulses, oil, and Corn-Soy Blend Plus) distributed to children between the ages of 6 and 23 months since July as part of efforts to prevent child malnutrition will help improve the nutritional status of young children and could stabilize if not bring down prevailing acute malnutrition rates in this area (between 10 and 13 percent since 2008). Accordingly, there will be Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) in this livelihood zone between October and next March.

Livelihood zone 7 (“North and East Livestock and Cereals”)

This is a high-potential area for livestock-raising and millet and cowpea production in which very poor and poor households account for 20 and 40 percent, respectively, of the local population. Crops harvested in October normally last for four to six months, depleting between March and May. The main sources of household income are sales of livestock (small animals and poultry) and milk and gold panning activities. Seasonal migration by transhumant herds to the eastern part of the country or the coastal states normally begins in February.

Current situation

Season-long cumulative rainfall totals for the period from April 1st through September 30th were at or above the 1981-2010 average. There was regular rainfall between the second dekad of July and the first dekad of September, except in Soum province, which reported pockets of drought. However, the rains ended by September 10th, contradicting seasonal rainfall outlooks predicting late-season rains through the end of September in this area. This could reduce crop yields, particularly for sorghum and lowland rice crops in Yagha and Soum provinces.

Households are living off their harvests (of maize, cowpeas, sorghum, and millet), which has helped reduce their dependence on local markets, which are still well-stocked with cereals from carry-over trader stocks. There are also ongoing subsidized cereal sales programs for poor households in this area. In addition, the government has set up test shops in provincial capitals selling cereal (maize and rice) at subsidized prices. These different programs are helping to stabilize market prices. Average prices for millet and sorghum are at or less than 15 percent above the five-year average.

Adequate pasture and water availability is helping to keep livestock in typically good physical condition. Milk availability is improving household food security and income. Though local processing plants are unable to absorb the entire supply of milk from local producers, the farm-gate price of a liter of milk is still 20 percent above the five-year average due mainly to demand from the area’s refugee population.

In general, livestock prices are higher than last year and above the five-year average due to the good physical condition of livestock and increased demand for the celebration of Tabaski. Prices for male goats and Sahelian male sheep are up from last year by 15 and 22 percent, respectively, on the Djibo market, by four percent in both cases on the Dori market, and anywhere from four to nine percent above the five-year average on both markets. This is helping to improve terms of trade for pastoralists.

This livelihood zone has 55.5 percent of the country’s Malian refugee population (27,757 refugees), who are concentrated primarily in Soum and Séno provinces. The refugees’ food and nutritional needs are being met by the UNHCR and its partners through monthly distributions of food and cash.

Local households are currently enjoying normal food access from their recent harvests without any negative effects on their livelihoods. In addition, over 18,000 children between the ages of 6 and 23 months have been receiving monthly protective food rations since July as part of efforts to prevent malnutrition.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2013 through March 2014 in this area is based on the following assumptions:

  • Cereal production: With the delays in the planting of crops (in Soum province) and the rains ending unexpectedly early (in Soum and Yagha provinces), cereal production will fall short of the five-year average.
  • Cash crop production: Though the rainy season was cut short, output from cash crops, in this particular case cowpeas, will still be close to the five-year average due mainly to the larger areas planted in these crops. In fact, with the poor start of the rainy season, farmers chose to focus on cowpea crops, whose growing cycle is shorter than that of cereal crops. According to preliminary data supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, cowpea production is up 53 percent from the five-year average.
  • Seasonal migration by transhumant livestock: Based on the adequate supply of pasture and good water levels in animal watering holes, there should be a normal pattern of seasonal migration by transhumant livestock beginning in February-March.
  • Cereal prices: The availability of fresh crops at the household level, the larger than usual carry-over trader inventories, the establishment of government-subsidized shops selling cereal at affordable prices, and the distribution of food rations to more than 9,500 poor households between October and December should all help reduce the market dependence of local households and keep prices close to the five-year average throughout the outlook period.
  • Livestock prices: The good physical condition of livestock and growing demand due to the celebration of Tabaski (in October) and the year-end holidays will keep prices at least 20 to 30 percent above the five-year average between October and December. The deterioration in the physical condition of livestock will put prices close to the average between January and March, strengthening terms of trade for pastoralists and keeping them at least 15 percent above-average throughout the outlook period.
  • Remittances: Based on the stable socio-political situation in destinations for migrants (mainly in the coastal states), there should be near-average levels of migration and remittance income throughout the outlook period.
  • Small-scale gold panning activities: The normal pursuit of these activities will generate near-average levels of income based on the current purchase price of gold, which is stable, at levels close to the three-year average. These activities are normally more widespread between the months of November and May.
  • Farm income: With this season’s average harvests and prices, the usual stream of income between November and February from sales of crops in general and cowpeas in particular will be in line with the norm.
  • Milk sales: Good milk availability between October and December and the growing demand from local processing plants and refugee populations will put income from the sale of milk and dairy products at least 30 percent above-average. As of January, income-generation from this source will be about-average.
  • Global acute malnutrition rates: Normal patterns of household food consumption since last year’s November harvests by local households could keep Global Acute Malnutrition rates close to or below figures for October of last year (between 10.1 and 12.6 percent). Preventive programs could also help bring down these rates.
Most likely food security outcomes

There will be a normal pattern of household food consumption throughout the outlook period, based mainly on the use of stocks of freshly harvested crops. Income from sales of milk, livestock, cash crops, and gold panning activities will help protect and improve local livelihoods. Accordingly, the majority of very poor and poor households will experience Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) between October 2013 and March 2104.

The combined effects of normal food access (since November 2012) and the scaling-up of programs designed to prevent malnutrition since July should help stabilize if not bring down acute malnutrition rates. Accordingly, there will be Minimal acute food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) in this livelihood zone throughout the outlook period from October 2013 through March 2014. However, with harvests falling short of the five-year average, household food stocks will run out earlier than usual and very poor and poor households could have difficulty getting enough to eat by June, which could heighten their food insecurity during next year’s lean season. Their growing market dependence could drive staple cereal prices above the five-year average, thereby eroding terms of trade.

Events That Might Change The Outlook

Area

Event

Impact on food security conditions

Nationwide

Unusually large cereal exports

Unusually large exports of cereal in general and millet in particular to neighboring countries (Mali and Niger) could keep their prices above the five-year average. This could have a negative effect on terms of trade and, as a result, on household food access.

Resumption of hostilities between the Malian government and rebel groups

A new outbreak of fighting in Mali could slow down refugee repatriation efforts and add to the current numbers of Malian refugees in the country. Even with the establishment of refugee camps, a massive influx of new refugees could have a negative effect on food security conditions in refugee receiving areas due to the added pressure on millet supplies on local markets.

Livelihood zones 7 & 8

 

Extension of the subsidized cereal sales program

An extension of the subsidized cereal sales program beyond the end of October would lead to an unusually sharp decline in staple cereal prices, thereby further improving terms of trade for pastoralists. This would allow very poor and poor households to build up their savings or livestock herds.

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

USAID logoUSGS logoUSDA logo
NASA logoNOAA logoKimetrica logoChemonics logo