Conflict to Worsen Food Security in Central West Africa
Since mid-2018, conflict in the Liptako-Gourma region, the border connecting western Niger, northern and eastern Burkina Faso, and central and northeastern Mali, has displaced almost 700,000 people and caused massive disruptions to market functioning and livelihoods, according to a recent alert from FEWS Net. These disruptions are expected to continue to drive urgent humanitarian needs through the rest of 2020.
As displaced households have limited cultivation and harvesting of their fields, or even abandoned fields altogether, food production prospects in the region have declined. In the areas of western Niger hardest hit by conflict, staple crop production is estimated to be up to 40 percent below average in 2020. Heavily conflict-affected areas in Mali could see production declines of up to 35 percent below average, while Burkina Faso’s conflict-affected regions could see have harvests as much as 75 percent below average.
The ongoing conflicts have also disrupted normal market functioning in the region. As traders from neighboring countries flee the region, this reduces both the demand for food and livestock and the supply of consumer goods.
Food consumption in many of these areas is deteriorating and will continue to do so. Many households have already begun selling off their productive assets and engaging in other coping strategies to purchase food, and FEWS Net expects to see early home crop stock depletion in the region by mid-2020. The FEWS Net report estimates that between 1.5 and 1.7 million people in central West Africa are currently experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher food insecurity. This number could swell to as many as 3.5 million people during the June-August lean season.
Humanitarian food aid to central West Africa will need to be scaled up in order to mitigate this increased food insecurity. While humanitarian efforts are underway in parts of Burkina Faso, the ongoing conflict has made food distribution difficult and irregular. Thus, governments will also need to work to ensure that humanitarian access is unrestricted in conflict-affected areas.