Participants in 2013 Consolidated Appeal

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Drivers and underlying factors

Chronic Vulnerability

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in the Sahel region of West Africa, with a population of 17 million. It is one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 181 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.4 Almost half of the population (46.7%) lives below the poverty line. An assessment using the Household Economic Approach, conducted by WFP in 2012, also indicated that more than half of the households are either poor or very poor, owning no land and few animals. In addition, the annual population growth of 3.1% is placing significant pressure on natural resources, making it difficult for economic development and poverty-reduction policies to achieve results.

The context of Burkina Faso is one of chronic food insecurity. The Government’s 2011 Enquête Permanente Agricole indicated that the percentage of households chronically unable to meet their food needs increased from 30 to 34% between 2006 and 2011.

In this context of chronic poverty and food insecurity, the population remains extremely vulnerable to external shocks, such as droughts and floods, soaring food prices and regional political instability.

Climatic hazards

Burkina Faso’s population and agricultural production are highly vulnerable to weather-related shocks, which are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. In 2011, 12.1% of the population was affected by climate-related disasters, and in 2012 Burkina Faso faced its third drought in five years.5 Droughts regularly threaten the harvests of the major food and cash crops, significantly affecting the majority of people who rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods.

In addition, many areas of Burkina Faso are prone to localized flooding during the rainy season (July to October). Government figures indicate that in some areas, as many as 150,000 people were affected by floods in 2009. Destruction of crops and loss of livestock were also reported.

These frequent and severe weather shocks weakened the livelihoods and assets of households and, as a result, their ability to withstand the 2012 food crisis and future shocks. Climate change, land degradation and desertification also remain aggravating factors, particularly in areas where increasing variability in rainfall and a longer-term reduction in annual rainfall have been documented. Land degradation is especially aggravated in densely populated agricultural areas, including North and Plateau Central regions.

Decreased cereal production and high prices for basic food commodities

Burkina Faso’s cereal production for the 2011/12 agricultural season was 20% lower than the previous year. For the 10 most-affected regions, cereal production was 35% lower than the five-year average. However, this year’s crop production is estimated to be 15% higher than that of last year due to improved rainfall.

Prices were extremely high in Burkina Faso in 2011/12, with grain prices up to 70% higher in September 2012 compared with 2011 in almost all markets, notably for millet and sorghum. With the 2013 harvest, it is likely that grain prices will decrease compared with the price peaks during the lean season. However, it is also likely that price levels will remain higher than the average of the last five years. In pastoral areas, the terms of trade between the price of livestock and millet have been declining since the beginning of 2012. This makes it increasingly difficult for livestock keepers to purchase food, further increasing their food-insecurity risk.

Humanitarian consequences and caseload

The impact of the above-mentioned factors on many vulnerable households (international market fluctuations, insufficient and imbalanced agricultural production rates, climatic shocks, and high prices for basic food commodities) has led to tenuous living situations in 2012.

Food insecurity

According to Government estimates, 2,850,000 people were at risk of malnutrition at the third 2012 trimester.

When facing food insecurity, households often resort to coping mechanisms: selling productive assets and food stocks, borrowing food or money, migrating to other areas in search of work, shifting to non-agricultural activities such as mining, or reducing the quality and quantity of food consumed. Many of these coping strategies corrode households’ livelihoods, leading to a persistent cycle of food insecurity and malnutrition lasting beyond the crisis. Households headed by women and elderly people tend to be more food-insecure, especially those living in rural areas. As a consequence, they tend to face higher protection risks.

Despite regular and sufficient rainfall during the 2012 rainy season, household food security is expected to remain fragile as vulnerable people’s assets are exhausted from coping with the 2011/2012 food crisis. This highlights the need to support rural development and build households’ livelihoods in order to improve their resilience to shocks. It is therefore expected that the severe depletion of very poor and poor households’ assets will have serious consequences on their food-security situation beyond the next harvest into 2013 and leave them vulnerable to further shocks.

In the Sahelian area of Burkina Faso, 90% of the population depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods. Farmers in the northern area of the country are particularly vulnerable to the impact of shortages. The scarce and sporadic rainfall during the 2011 agricultural season led to the high food-crop deficit and low forage production. These shocks, combined with deteriorating vegetation caused by over-exploitation, led to livestock-feeding difficulties during the dry season, with many animals suffering from undernutrition. As a result, the weakened state of livestock over many months led to reduced levels of milk and meat production and an increase in the animals’ susceptibility to various diseases, creating higher mortality rates. This impact on livestock directly affects women (particularly those who are pregnant or lactating) and children (particularly children under age 5) in the following ways: (i) the global household revenue is reduced following the high animal-mortality rates and the consequent lower meat and milk production; (ii) the decrease in milk production affects the health of children under age 5; (iii) the decrease in milk production also affects women’s revenue as they are responsible for selling and processing milk. Rural farmers, particularly those who are vulnerable, have attempted to sustain their families by selling their livestock.


A significant outcome of Burkina Faso’s chronic food insecurity is the high level of acute and chronic malnutrition in children, with a high prevalence of malnutrition in the lean season and post-harvest. This situation particularly affects the poorest households and the most vulnerable people, especially children and women. It has been estimated that the nutrition crisis will cause severe acute malnutrition for some 100,000 children under 5 (52,000 girls and 48,000 boys). These children will need to be identified through community screening and treated through the national health system’s existing structures (community health centres, and district, regional and national hospitals).

Preliminary results from a SMART survey conducted between September and October 2012 indicated a GAM rate of 10.9% at the national level, compared with 10.3% in 2011 and 10.7% in 2009. The Centre North, East, North, Centre and Boucle de Mouhoun regions had the highest GAM rates at 13.6, 12.6, 12.2, 11.8 and 11.1% respectively. Stunting levels have also not improved since 2008; they remain above the “serious” threshold at 33%.

Micronutrient deficiency levels are also high in Burkina Faso: 88% of children under age 5 and approximately half of pregnant (58%) and lactating (50%) women are anaemic. The poor nutrition status of women and children tends to worsen mortality rates among these groups. The child-mortality rate was 65 per 1,000 children in 2010, and the maternal-mortality rate is 341 per 100,000 women in 2012.

3.2 Refugee crisis

Following the outbreak of political violence in northern Mali which started in early 2012, 35,859 Malians refugees settled in the north of the country. UNHCR and CONAREF conducted individual registrations of the refugee population in September 2012 to update Malian refugees’ population figure in Burkina Faso. This Level II registration has revised the refugee population figure from 107,000 to 35,859.

Refugees are expected to arrive in small numbers. Their arrivals will be registered by the Registration Level II mechanism set up in camps. Towards the end of the year, 40,000 refugees are expected to be in Burkina Faso. This figure is expected to increase to 50,000 towards the end of 2013, making this the planning figure for the operation in 2013. Contingency planning is also under way in order to prepare for possible refugee influxes in case of a military intervention in northern Mali.

Humanitarian consequences and population

The majority of the incoming population is nomadic, originating from the north of Mali and primarily consisting of three tribes: the Arab, Tuareg and Bella tribes. The Government officially recognizes seven sites as refugee camps, but refugees have also settled spontaneously in seven unofficial sites throughout the country, the majority of which are in the Sahel region. Refugees have chosen to remain there for historical and water-availability reasons, and because of access to grazing land for their livestock. Some refugee camps are located less than 50 km from the border with Mali, which raises security concerns. Therefore, UNHCR’s priority for 2013 will be to relocate refugees to new camps at a safer distance from the border (>50 km), such as Goudebou (on the outskirts of Dori) and Saag Nioniogo (on the outskirts of Ouagadougou). A small minority, mostly originating from Bamako, have chosen to flee to urban centres, such as Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.

Children compose 54% of the refugee population, while 49% are women and girls. This presents a group of potentially highly vulnerable people. Since the majority of these people have neither income nor productive assets, they have resorted to negative coping mechanisms such as reducing the number of meals or changing consumption patterns. Therefore, the refugee population is entirely dependent on food distributions to meet their food requirements, as confirmed by recent WFP post-distribution monitoring missions in September and October 2012.

In addition, and according to FAO estimates, refugees have brought about 50,000 animals, mainly small ruminants and cattle. These animals have been weakened by the long travel and food scarcity, and natural pasture and water for local livestock are lacking following insufficient rainfall during the 2011 rainy season. The presence of refugees and their livestock in the Sahel region has placed an additional burden on local and scarce natural resources (water, land, pasture and food) and an additional strain on basic social services, such as medical facilities and schools. It is feared that refugees’ increased presence could lead to greater tensions with host communities over grazing land, rising food prices and reduced food availability in local markets.

4. The 2013 common humanitarian action plan

Planning scenario

Two possible scenarios for the humanitarian situation in 2013 were developed in consultations with humanitarian actors at the CAP workshop. Sector response plans and proposed activities are based on the most likely scenario, while the worst-case scenario is based on the contingency-planning exercise finalized by November 2012.

Most likely scenario

Core elements

Effects on humanitarian needs and operations

Most-affected population

Food insecurity :
Continuation of food insecurity among the already food-insecure populations due to the depletion of food stock and increase in cereal prices.

Significant decrease in food availability and access.

Increased cereal and food commodities prices.

Increased moderate malnutrition rates.

Reduced coping capacities and adoption of negative coping mechanisms by the most food-insecure households.

Humanitarian entities unable to provide timely and adequate nutritional and food assistance.

Increased operational costs.

Need to continue humanitarian operations due to increase in cereal prices.

Need for additional funding to ensure timely assistance to beneficiaries.

Increase in health needs and demand.

Increase in incidents of common diseases (diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection, measles, malaria, etc.) among malnourished children.

Change in the type of assistance (from food to cash/voucher).

Children under five.

Pregnant and lactating women.

Households in debt because of the 2012 food crisis (compromised harvests).

Households affected by floods and cereal deficit of 2012 agricultural season.

Poor and poorest households (rural and urban).

Vulnerable groups.

Women-headed households.

Outbreak of diseases:
The cholera outbreak affecting the neighbouring countries including Mali is likely to lead to increased cases in Burkina Faso.

Recurrent outbreaks of meningitis, measles or yellow fever are likely to occur in 2013.

The on-going circulation of wild poliovirus in the sub-region might affect Burkina Faso in 2013.

Increased morbidity and fatality risks owing to large-scale development of epidemics mostly in the context of malnutrition, displacement of populations and crowded refugee population in the sites. Need for strengthening basic health services and health workers’ capacities.

Better attention to health issues in the various humanitarian response plans.

Populations of all districts, particularly those hosting refugees and their neighbourhoods, under-five children (for polio).

Increased conflict in Mali:
Intensified conflict in Mali’s northern regions and imposition of harsh religious norms on the population, with the conflict spreading to other regions of Mali.

Armed resistance to deployment of ECOWAS forces coupled with the continued political impasse in Bamako.

Potential suicide attacks in the north and other regions within Mali.

Continued political deadlock in Bamako, refugees fleeing to Burkina Faso amounting to 50,000 before the end of 2013.

  • Limited access to basic social services due to deficient resources to respond to the needs of refugees, migrants and internally displaced people (IDPs) causing:

  • Worsened food and nutritional status of populations.

  • Difficult deliveries.

  • Early abortion.

  • Maternal deaths or stillborn.

Gender-based violence (GBV) cases (sexual violence, denial of resources to women, etc.).

Insufficient shelter for IDPs and migrants.

Increased numbers of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation of women and children.

Accrued pressure on available animal pasture/fodder and water.

Deterioration of food and nutritional status of the refugee/local people.

Increased tension between host communities, IDPs and refugees over scarce natural resources (water, pasture land, etc.).

Increased number of people with limited access to the basic social services (especially women and children).

Refugees, host population. 

Women, children, people with specific needs.

Worst-case scenario

Core elements

Effects on humanitarian needs and operations

Most affected populations

Influx of Malian refugees:
Escalation of the Malian crisis as a result of the military option to solve the conflict subsequently leading to an additional influx of Malian refugees in Burkina Faso (potential 130,000 additional refugees in 2013).

Limited access to basic social services due to deficient resources to respond to the needs of refugees, migrants and IDPs resulting in:

  • Worsened food and nutritional status of populations.

  • Difficult deliveries.

  • Early abortion.

  • Maternal deaths or stillborn.

GBV cases (sexual violence, denial of resources to women, etc.).

Increased numbers of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation of women and children.

Recruitment of children by armed groups and armed forces.

Accrued pressure on available animal pasture / fodder and water.

  • Deterioration of food and nutritional status of the refugee/local populations.

  • Increased tension between host communities, IDPs and refugees over scarce natural resources (water, pasture land, etc.).

  • Increased number of people with limited access to the basic social services (especially women and children).

Refugees, host population, women, children, people with specific needs.

Food and Nutrition crisis
Burkina Faso experiences an exacerbation of the food and nutrition crisis, increased disturbances caused by climate change, destruction of crops by locust infestation, and increase in Malian refugee influx, worsening the food and nutritional crisis.

Reduced humanitarian space/limited access to the north.

Increased tension between host communities, IDPs and refugees.

Increased number of population with limited access to basic social services (especially women).

Increased number food-insecure and malnourished people.

Reduced coping strategy among vulnerable less poor population.

Dramatic increase in cereal prices and little to no food availability on local markets.

Increased fatality and morbidity rates amongst children under five.

Drastic changes in food consumption and habits.

Humanitarian entities unable to provide timely and adequate nutritional and food assistance.

Dramatically increased operation costs.

Need to continue and to scale up humanitarian operations.

Need for additional funding to ensure timely assistance to beneficiaries.

Need to scale up partners’ response capacities.


Host population: women, children, people with specific needs.


Host populations. 

Women and PLW.

Poor and poorest households.

Children (under-five).

Vulnerable groups.

Extreme rainfalls resulting in floods, cholera outbreak, damage to social and farming infrastructures and to livestock and crops.

Humanitarian actors will support the Government response efforts to the cholera outbreak and the needs of the 200,000 flood-affected people.

25,000 hectares of cereal farms will be rehabilitated as well as bridges.

Global acute malnutrition will be addressed.

Children under five.

Population lacking access to clean and drinkable water.

Population living in unhealthy areas.

HIV-affected people.

Populations bordering cholera-affected countries (regions of Sahel and east of Burkina).

Humanitarian access

The evolving security situation in the Sahel could have serious humanitarian consequences in Burkina Faso and affect the operating environment of national actors and the international community. In northern Mali, the process of planning the deployment of African troops to restore the integrity of this part of the Malian territory is ongoing. Meanwhile, Jihadist groups have threatened the United Nations and troop-contributing countries, such as Burkina Faso.

Due to the borders’ porosity and the proliferation of light weapons in the West Africa subregion, mitigating measures must be implemented regarding terrorist action likely to be undertaken by AQMI, Ansar Den, MUJAO and Boko Haram. Therefore, UN and humanitarian personnel’s movement in the field, mainly in the Sahel region, need reinforced security.

Due to the security situation in the Sahel, the UN and the Government have implemented armed escorts in the regions bordering northern Mali. Currently there is no radio room operating 24/7 in Burkina Faso, and the tracking of humanitarian actors remains inadequate. An intervention team is required for the UN Security operation centre in Dori that could rescue UN staff and implementing partners in an emergency and deal with kidnapping threats.

However, the UN system has committed to establishing a radio room operating 24/7 in Dori (the capital of Sahel) and Ouagadougou. Both radio rooms are expected to be functional by January 2013.

In this context, the respect of humanitarian principles and good civil-military coordination remain essential to ensure the protection of humanitarian space. The necessary security measures for all humanitarian actors, in accordance with all humanitarian laws and principles, will be implemented.

The humanitarian strategy and strategic objectives

Explanation of strategy

The 2013 CAP will seek to continue contributing to the Government’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable communities affected by the food, nutritional or refugee crises. Based on the most likely scenario, the CAP considers current humanitarian needs as well as the likely developments in 2013, not only to ensure that affected people’s basic needs are met, but that mitigating activities and potential cross-cutting issues are implemented and addressed.

The strategy and key indicators determined by these priorities are detailed in the sector response plans within Agriculture, Food Assistance, Health, Multi-sector (refugees), Education, Nutrition, Protection, WASH and Coordination Sectors. Gender and other cross-cutting issues will be mainstreamed in all programming.

The strategic objectives and/or priorities have been agreed by the humanitarian community, in close consultation with Government authorities, NGOs and humanitarian donors in Burkina Faso, with a view to covering humanitarian needs through timely, coordinated activities. Projects included in the 2013 appeal will be based on the following objectives, as agreed by the HCT, under the RC/HC’s leadership.

Objective 1:

Provide humanitarian aid to communities suffering from or threatened by food insecurity, while capitalizing on opportunities in the emergency response to foster the self-reliance and resilience capacity of affected people and rebuild livelihoods for implementing time-critical early recovery activities.

Objective 2:

Provide humanitarian aid to 100,000 children under 5 with SAM and 430,000 children under 5 with MAM in 2013.

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