Alert

Extended pastoral lean season and fewer labor opportunities likely in Mauritania and Senegal if rainy season is poor

May 4, 2015

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Concentration of displaced people – hover over maps to view food security phase classifications for camps in Nigeria.
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Summary

Below-average 2014/15 crop production levels and poor pastoral conditions are contributing to reduced food access for poor households in the agropastoral zones of south-central Mauritania and in northern and central Senegal. Under current conditions, approximately 1.25 million people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher food insecurity between May and September 2015, with additional households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Several meteorological centers (ECMWF, IRI, UK MET) are currently projecting a poor June to September 2015 rainy season which, if it were to occur, could negatively impact income generating opportunities for pastoral and agropastoral households and contribute to worsening food security outcomes. While rainfall projections are still uncertain, early contingency planning is needed in order to mitigate higher assistance needs between now and September 2015 under this scenario.

In areas of Mauritania and Senegal that experienced poor rainfall last year, 2014/15 crop production was between 30 and 80 percent below average, causing household food stocks to deplete earlier than normal and prolonging the period of time that households depend on market purchases to meet their food needs. Below-average incomes from crop sales and reduced milk availability are also limiting food access. To cope, households are selling additional livestock, increasing debt levels, engaging in increased levels of wage labor, migration, fishing, and forestry product sales (charcoal, wood, etc.), and reducing the quantity and quality of their meals. Even if the coming June to September rainy season is relatively normal, affected areas will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity between now and the start of new pasture growth in July in pastoral areas or early crop harvests in September in agropastoral areas. A small number of very poor households will also face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, particularly in Mauritania.

Projected food security outcomes are, however, partially dependent on the performance of the next rainy season and medium-range seasonal rainfall models are currently showing mixed forecasts. More specifically, the April 2015 North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecast is showing no anomalies, while the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the UK Met Office, and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) are all indicating an increased probability of below-average rains. The UK Met and ECMWF, in particular, are indicating a more than 50 percent probability of well below-average rainfall in certain localities (Figure 1).

Though forecasts are still uncertain, a poor start of season could lead to a fairly immediate deterioration in food security outcomes between June and September 2015. For households that rely on livestock products for food and income, the pastoral lean season could be prolonged if pastures and water points do not regenerate normally. Likewise, labor opportunities could be atypically low if poor rainfall disrupts cropping activities, providing less income for poor agropastoral households to purchase food. Under this scenario, a significantly larger number of households in the agropastoral and pastoral zones of south-central Mauritania and northern and central Senegal could decline into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher food insecurity between July and September compared to current estimates.

Free or subsidized food and animal feed distributions, and malnutrition prevention and treatment programs are planned but are not expected to adequately meet projected needs between May and September, even under a scenario of normal rainfall. Given the possibility of a below-average rainy season, response agencies should begin to develop contingency plans to mitigate the potential impacts on livestock mortality, food security and nutrition. The reliability of seasonal forecasts will also improve with the approach of the rainy season so updates to current climate models should be closely monitored.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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