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Between February and May 2019, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) carried out an Enhanced Market Analysis (EMA) in prioritized communes of Mopti, Timbuktu, Gao, and Ménaka (Figure 2), Mali. Among other uses, the information presented in this report can be used to support the design of food security programs, including but not limited to informing a U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bellmon determination in advance of future food assistance programming in the area of interest (AOI).
Following the scope of work (SOW), the assessment covered four broad themes: (1) households’ access to food and income; (2) market Structure, Conduct, and Performance of key staple foods, fish, and livestock; (3) availability of infrastructure and supporting services required for the success of a range of modality options; and (4) the food assistance context, including experiences with different modalities. The assessment was informed by primary and secondary data collection and analysis. Table 1 summarizes the assessment team’s key findings.
The ongoing complex emergency in northern and central Mali constrains basic economic activities and the provision of basic services and assistance. The introduction of restrictions on transportation due to insecurity have isolated many communities (particularly in Mopti and Timbuktu) and resulted in increased transportation costs and frequent adjustments to food assistance modality delivery decisions. Existing pressures on land access and use between agricultural and pastoral populations are further aggravated (especially in Mopti). Assistance implementing organizations have underscored a strong need for flexibility in program design and the importance of operating in consortia, rather than alone. The presence of two RAMSAR sites within AOI have not effectively agropastoral activities due to the very limited enforcement capacity of the state, like the enforcement of land-use restrictions in protected forests (forêts classées) present throughout Mali.
The rural economy in the AOI hinges on agriculture, livestock, and fish production and marketing. However, labor income is the main source of income for very poor and poor households across the majority of livelihood zones in the AOI (Figure 5; Figure 24; Annex 3). Exceptions to these trends are in the northern-most pastoral livelihood zone (ML01), where livestock sales constitute the primary income source and in the Niger River Delta (ML06), where fish and crop sales are significant. Market purchases are an important source of food across the AOI, ranging from 25 percent (ML 09) to 100 percent (ML 01).
Mopti and Gao are the largest markets within the AOI and serve as important coordination and distribution points for both locally produced and imported staple foods. Markets along main transportation routes are generally well integrated within the AOI and with key markets in southern Mali and neighboring countries. Markets along riverine and lakeside areas of northwestern Mopti (Tenenkou and Youarou) and southern Timbuktu are relatively isolated and thin, characterized by fewer buyers and sellers than Mopti and Gao cercles and often face substantial accessibility constraints during the rainy season. Prices vary seasonally, with market actors adjusting their activities for known seasonal events. Markets across the AOI have been affected by insecurity, with resulting increases in transaction and transportations contributing to recent price increases.
Communities near regional and cercle capitals have relatively better access to formal financial service providers and mobile network connectivity. While mobile phone use has expanded substantially within the AOI, mobile money agents are not ubiquitous. Informal money traders play a critical role in ensuring the availability of cash liquidity in more remote locations.
Given the diverse and complex assistance needs and response efforts, the Government of Mali (GoM) is in the process of consolidating its policy framework and coordination efforts under the Politique Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire et Nutritionnelle (PolNSAN). The National Response Plan (PNR) provides orientation and guidance to annual assistance programming. It is developed based on inputs from the national early warning system (SAP) through consensus between the GoM and the international community (including key donors and nongovernmental organizations [NGOs]) and validated by the National Food Security Council (Conseil National de Sécurité Alimentaire). There have been a variety of modality experiences to meet various program objectives in the AOI. Security conditions have proven to be a major determinant of whether an organization decides to intervene in an area, rather than driving modality choice.