Famines are a thing of the past: Food security trends in Northern Burkina Faso

Colin Thor West, Aimé Somé, Elisabeth Kago Nebié

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Sub-Saharan Africa is often portrayed as a region of chronic hunger, conflict, and poverty. The country of Burkina Faso is a bright spot on the continent where government agencies, NGOs, and development organizations have progressively improved food security to the point where citizens often state, "Famines of the past could never happen again." This study evaluates such claims by looking at food security trends over the last 18 years using ethnographic participatory fieldwork and grain price data. Community members have invested in numerous soil and water conservation (SWC) measures that buffer their crops from droughts and agro-clirnatic variability. There is also a national famine early warning system in place and improved infrastructure that helps the government and NGOs efficiently provide food assistance in times of need. Thus, fewer households are affected when droughts occur due to these adaptations, and food insecurity is not as severe or widespread as in the past. Local grain prices are, however, rising and becoming more closely linked to world food markets. Just as most households are becoming more food secure, those ho are dependent on grain purchases are becoming more food insecure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-350
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Food security
  • Hurkina Faso
  • Mossi
  • Sahel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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