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Crisis expected in parts of the southern Sahel due to production and pasture deficits

  • Alert
  • West Africa
  • February 20, 2014
Crisis expected in parts of the southern Sahel due to production and pasture deficits

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary
    Elevated levels of food insecurity are anticipated in portions of the Sahel as the effects of localized crop production and pasture deficits negatively impact household food access. Acute food insecurity will be most severe in parts of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Chad (Figure 1). Between April and June, needs in the Sahel will exist in both pastoral and agropastoral areas. Once rains begin, needs will be concentrated in cropping areas where more than 4 million people will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Expanded and well-targeted assistance through the end of the consumption year in September could prevent the worst of these outcomes.


    Regionally, 2013/14 crop production in the Sahel was average. However, erratic rainfall in localized areas of the southern Sahel resulted in crop losses of up to 50 percent and below-average pasture growth. Areas affected include northeastern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, southern Niger, and Sahelian Chad. These poor harvests have led to below-average food stock levels for affected households. Pasture and water availability for livestock is also poorer than usual in many areas, causing transhumant pastoralists in parts of the region to start their southern migration several months earlier than normal.

    Though market prices in the western and central Sahel will remain at near average levels, atypically tight supply, as well as growing demand, will cause unusually high staple prices in the eastern marketing basin, particularly in Niger and the Sahelian belt of Chad. These high prices will further limit food access for poor households, many who will become market dependent one to three months earlier than in a typical year. To cope with this atypical market dependence, many households will increase their casual and migration labor, animal and cash crop sales, petty trade, and market garden activities. However in many areas, these activities will only partially offset the effects of the below-average rainfed harvest on food access, and households will still have difficulties meeting basic needs. For pastoral households, the early transhumance movements and pastoral deficits will contribute to a deterioration of livestock body conditions and prices, reducing these households’ access to cereals through animal sales.

    Most affected households will continue to meet their essential food needs but only by intensifying other livelihood activities to atypical levels, reducing non-food expenditures, and/or relying on humanitarian assistance. As a result, these households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity, particularly between April and the end of the lean season in September. Northern Guidimaka in Mauritania and parts of Wadi Fira, northern Ouaddai, and Barh-El-Ghazel in Chad, however, are anticipated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity between April and June. In these worst-affected areas, the ability of households to expand their coping in the coming months beyond current levels will be limited and as a result, the poor are expected to either face some consumption deficits or only be able to marginally meet their basic consumption needs through irreversible coping strategies.

    Conditions for most pastoral households across the region will improve beginning in June following the start of the 2014 rainy season. However, between June and the end of the consumption year in September, an increased number of agricultural and agropastoral households in Niger, Chad, and Mali are expected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity, as their ability to purchase all their food needs deteriorates in the height of their lean season. While humanitarian assistance is ongoing throughout the region, continued, expanded and well-targeted assistance will be necessary to prevent expected food consumption gaps.

    Figures Figure 1. Projected food security oucomes for April to June 2014

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Projected food security oucomes for April to June 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

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