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Seasonal forecasts show a high likelihood of the rains getting off to a timely start and predict average to above-average levels of cumulative rainfall, which point to a good 2016 growing season. Therefore, most farming households should be able to stabilize their livelihoods and maintain normal food access. This would guarantee Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity for the next seven months.
The promising harvest outlook and good levels of market supplies will help promote normal trends in food prices, which should be close to the five-year average. In addition, there should be normal levels of income from different types of labor and livestock sales, helping to give households regular food access during the lean season between June and September.
Duly funded and scheduled humanitarian assistance and government assistance in the far northern reaches of the country, with close to 29,000 Malian refugees and 26,500 very poor residents, will help ease hardships for these populations during the lean season, until the upcoming harvests beginning in October.
Most parts of the country had already seen some early or normal rainfall activity by the end of the first dekad of June. Cumulative rainfall levels as of that date ranged from 3.8 mm on one day in Baraboulé in the Sahelian region to 300 mm over 24 days in Pô, in the South-Central region. These cumulative rainfall figures are close to or above the historical average (1981-2010) in most parts of the country, except for a few spots in the Sahelian,, Boucle du Mouhoun, Hauts Bassins, Southwestern, and Eastern regions, where there are below to well-below-average levels of rainfall.
These rains not only helped lower the high temperatures reported over the last few months, but also allowed for the successful planting of early-maturing or long-cycle crops in the West (the Niangoloko area) and the South (the Pô area). In the rest of the country, farming activities, including land preparation, the spreading of fertilizer, and water conservation and soil restoration measures, are moving ahead on schedule.
As the lean season gets off to a normal start, most poor households still have good enough food access from household food stocks or through market purchase to enable them to eat at least two meals a day. In general, there are adequate market supplies and, for the most part, in spite of some small localized rises in prices since last year (particularly in maize prices), staple cereal prices are still close to the five-year average. In addition, cereal sales at government-subsidized prices and the availability of wild plant foods are improving household food access.
Livestock prices for male sheep and male goats are above the five-year average by 14 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in major pastoral areas, though prices for bulls are approximately 25 percent below-average, driven down by the slowing of demand in destination countries for livestock exports (Nigeria and Ghana). Terms of trade for livestock/cereals are currently in favor of pastoralists. More specifically, a Sahelian goat is trading for the equivalent of 130 kg of millet on the Gorom-Gorom market, 171 kg of millet on the Dori market, and 187 kg of millet on the Djibo market. All but the figure for the Gorom-Gorom market are above the average of 150 kg of millet.
In general, animal watering problems were resolved by the first reported rains across the country, except in a few locations in the Sahelian region (in the municipalities of Déou and Oursi). However, the current scattered new pasture growth is not yet sufficient to meet the needs of grazing animals and pastoralists are still drawing on their stocks of crop residues or cut grass or resorting to agroindustrial byproducts purchased on the market.
There are still approximately 29,000 Malian refugees in the country. The large majority are living in the camps in Mentao (in Soum province) and Goudebo (in Séno province). The latter are receiving assistance from the UNHCR and its partners. Most of the DPs (2,194 agropastoralists) from Côte d’Ivoire seeking refuge from the ethnic fighting in that country in Noumbiel province have returned to their homes.
The most likely food security scenario for June 2016 through January 2017 is based on the following general assumptions:
- A normal lean season for households: By and large, scheduled humanitarian assistance from the country’s food security partners for approximately 89,000 people over the period from July through September, mainly in the form of cash transfer programs for 1.08 billion and distributions of infant cereal, will help the 26,500 residents of the municipalities of Oursi, Déou, and Tin-Akoff in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity and should meet their needs during that period. In addition, cereal sales at government-subsidized prices, the usual availability of wild plant foods between June and September, and the availability of milk between July and December will help improve household food access.
- A normal rainy season: The timely start of the rains, the expected above-normal levels of cumulative rainfall over the period from June through September, and the later than usual end of the rains in most parts of the country should help ensure the materialization of current average to above-average crop production forecasts.
- Average staple cereal prices: In general, staple cereal prices have stayed close to the five-year average since the last round of harvests. There is normally a growing household demand during the lean season (July through September). However, the good cereal availability on local markets, the government-subsidized cereal sales program, and the average outlook for the growing season should help keep prices in line with normal seasonal trends at levels close to the five-year average.
- Average incomes: The expected good growing season points to good yields of cash crops (groundnuts, sesame, cowpeas, cotton, etc.). There should be more or less near-average levels of income as of October. In addition, this will help fuel demand for farm labor for plowing, field maintenance, and harvesting work.
- Normal animal grazing and watering conditions: By July, the timely start of the rainy season will help promote new pasture growth and a steady improvement in the physical condition of livestock. This will also help facilitate normal return migration by transhumant herds beginning at that time.
- Stable nutritional conditions for children under five years of age: Since last season’s average harvests, there have been no major external shocks significantly affecting household food consumption and, thus, triggering an earlier than usual lean season. Acute malnutrition rates between June and September could be somewhere around the median value for the lean season, namely 10.5 percent (based on nonconsecutive Smart surveys for 2008 through 2014). With the average to above-average harvest outlook, a relatively normal post-harvest period, and a stable epidemiological situation, the GAM rate could be close to the figure for last year’s post-harvest period (10.4 percent).
Most likely food security outcome
Relatively stable market prices and ongoing operations by the government and its partners designed to help facilitate household food access will keep household food security conditions in line with the norm throughout the lean season, through the month of September. With the normal progress of the growing season, the first crops would be available as of September, with most households experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. In addition, barring an extreme shock to household livelihoods, the nutritional situation in general and, in particular, that of children under five years of age, could stabilize, with a GAM rate somewhere around the five-year average. In such case, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country for the entire outlook period
Table 1: Possible events in the next six months that could change the outlook
Impact on food security conditions
Deterioration in the security situation across the country
An escalation in attacks by armed groups could interfere with the normal operation of humanitarian programs, disrupt normal market operations, and, in general, weaken the national economy, particularly in the worst-off areas, mainly in the country’s Sahelian region.
Based on seasonal forecasts, there could be torrential rains in certain areas, with a likely risk of flooding, particularly in areas expecting above-normal levels of cumulative rainfall. These floods could result in losses of crops and household assets and heighten food insecurity and malnutrition risks.
Infestations of crops by grain-eating birds
There are still grain-eating birds present in the usual breeding areas (Soum, Oudalan, Séno, and Sourou provinces), thats numbers could start to grow by the month of August, posing an extremely serious threat to the crops and harvests of local households.
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.