Hamidou Maïga is a farmer living in the village Bani in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region. “My harvest only gave one third of what it gave last year. We have already emptied our stocks," explains the father of seven children. WFP/Anne Poulsen
Following erratic rains and poor harvests, Burkina Faso is among the Sahel countries currently facing a food and nutrition crisis.
OUAGADOUGOU - “If action is not taken now, malnutrition and hunger in Burkina Faso are going to reach crisis levels,” said WFP Burkina Faso Country Director Angelline Rudakubana. “We are in urgent need of resources to be able to respond to the situation while there is still time.”
Cereal production is down 16% compared to last year’s figure with 162 districts of the country facing critical to severe deficits. In addition, food prices started rising in November when prices should have been falling or at least stable after the harvest period. By January, the price for maize, sorghum and millet had increased by more than 30%.
This combination of low agricultural production and high food prices means that many people have started to resort to negative coping mechanisms: reducing their number of daily meals, taking their children out of school and eating roots and leaves.
The Burkina government has called on the humanitarian community to support its response plan to the crisis for the next twelve months.
WFP has scaled up its operations to support the national response plan. The Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) has been launched for a better understanding of household food insecurity, and WFP Burkina has scaled up its Food and Cash for Work activities thanks to a donation of around US$ 880,000 from the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).
In addition to the scale-up, WFP Burkina is preparing a larger response, which will include food assistance to the affected populations during the prolonged lean season from April to October as well as malnutrition prevention for children under the age of two and treatment for malnourished children under 5 and pregnant and nursing women.
According to a SMART survey conducted in September 2011, the general acute malnutrition rate was above the 10% serious threshold in 9 out of 13 regions with the Sahel, East and North regions especially of concern. The upcoming lean season is likely to further deteriorate the malnutrition status of families.
Celestine Ouedraogo is the Programme Assistant for Basic Education activities in Burkina Faso, as well as the Public Information focal point and the Walk the World focal point. Before joining WFP in 1998, Celestine worked for CEAO (West African Economic Organisation, currently UEMOA) and UNHCR.