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Definitive start of the growing season in the Sahel, with locally significant delays

  • Food Security Outlook
  • West Africa
  • July - December 2015
Definitive start of the growing season in the Sahel, with locally significant delays

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that Could Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Rainfall conditions have significantly improved since the middle of July and current forecasts bode well for above-average levels of cumulative rainfall for the rest of the season in the Sahel, even in areas reporting rainfall deficits and sizeable delays, such as in northern Senegal, southwestern Mauritania, the northern Maradi, northern Zinder and Diffa areas of Niger, and northeastern Nigeria.

    • Cereal availability is above average, which will be further bolstered by upcoming harvests in October and November. There will be adequate market supplies through December, even in certain conflict areas such as northern Mali with the signature of the June 20th peace accord. However, supplies in conflict areas of northeastern Nigeria will remain below seasonally normal levels.

    • The parts of the region hardest hit by food insecurity are those areas affected by the Boko Haram conflict. Food insecurity in the worst-off areas is currently at Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels, which is expected to continue through September. Starting in October, conditions will improve with the upcoming harvests, although Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are still expected through December.

    • The effects of 2014/15 crop and pasture production shortfalls will maintain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in Mauritania and Senegal through September in agropastoral areas. Between October and December, conditions will improve with the full recovery of pastures and increasing incomes from livestock sales, bringing food insecurity down to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels.

    • The below-average incomes of many poor households in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the residual effects of the Ebola crisis will keep them in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), if not in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), through September. Between October and December, the upcoming harvests and improvements in incomes will bring down food insecurity to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels, except for in Sierra Leone where there will be locally Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • Conditions in the rest of the region currently experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity will be further strengthened by the start-of-season and recovery in pastoral production between now and September 2015. This, along with the widespread harvests across the region between October and December, will maintain food insecurity at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels through the end of the year.


    Outlook by Country

    Burkina Faso

    • The agricultural season began poorly throughout the country, significantly delaying planting, particularly for long-cycle crops such as cotton and traditional varieties of millet and sorghum. The season is characterized by below-average to average rainfall that has been poorly distributed in terms of time and space.
    • In the northern areas of the country (communes of Tin-Akoff, Nassoumbou, and Koutougou), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity would persist if not for assistance in the area. Pastoralists are still reporting significant losses of livestock due to pasture shortages. In addition, deteriorating livestock-to-cereal terms of trade is limiting poor households' access to adequate food supplies.
    • On the markets, staple cereal and livestock prices are following average seasonal trends, but could rise significantly if the progression of the growing season leads to doubts about its results. However, cereal availability will remain generally satisfactory thanks to above-average trader stock levels.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Burkina Faso.

    Chad

    • Cumulative rainfall totals as of July 20, 2015 in many areas were down from the same time in 2014, particularly in the central reaches of the country. These rainfall deficits delayed crop planting activities in agricultural areas by one to two weeks, depending on the area. This could mean the planting of smaller areas for certain crops, thereby reducing yields. The main farming activities currently underway are plowing, sowing, and weeding.
    • Cereal prices in the Sahelian zone are stable for the third consecutive month but up slightly from July 2014. This reported price stability could last through September, followed by a normal seasonal decline in prices between October and December. However, cereal prices will stay above the five-year average.
    • Households in the southern part of the country should continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between now and October and beyond in other parts of the country owing, mainly, to the various crop-producing activities underway. The improvement in pastoral conditions with the current steady new pasture growth and the recovery of livestock are boosting pastoral incomes and milk availability.
    • There will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity in the Western Sahel through September due to the below-average harvests from the 2014/2015 growing season and influx of IDPs as a result of the conflict with Boko Haram. However, the upcoming harvests and growing food availability and food access will improve food consumption, bringing down food insecurity to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels beginning in October.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Chad.

    Mali

    • The large-scale distributions of humanitarian assistance to 650,000 recipients under the National Response Plan for combating food insecurity are stabilizing food insecurity in northern areas of the country at Stressed (IPC Phase 2 or 2!), without which it could have reached Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels.
    • The extended pastoral lean season, beginning in February instead of April as in a normal year, has triggered larger than usual numbers of animals in physiological distress and livestock fatalities, which is negatively affecting household livelihoods in northern pastoral areas. However, the improvement in pastoral conditions with the first July rains will help improve milk availability and increase pastoral incomes between August and December.
    • Despite the poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall at the beginning of the season, rainfall forecasts by NOAA, PRESAO/ACMAD, and ECMWF are predicting average to above-average cumulative rainfall across the country, with a regular distribution of the rains and a normal end-of-season in October. These favorable rainfall conditions and large-scale deliveries of farm input assistance from the Government and partner organizations are cause to hope for an overall average to above-average crop production this year despite a few possible localized production deficits.
    • The expected average to above-average crop yields from the upcoming October harvests and good livestock-to-cereal terms of trade will improve household food access. Thus, households in all parts of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between October and December.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Mali.

    Mauritania

    • The lack of household food stocks, sharp reduction in seasonal income, and inadequacy of food assistance programs will expose poor households in central and southern areas of the country to Crisis (IPC Phase 3 and 3!) levels of food insecurity between July and September.
    • While better pastoral conditions and crop production are expected to improve their food access in the next few months, poor households residing in the areas mentioned above will still face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity between October and December. The repayment of debts, depletion of livestock herds, and end of humanitarian assistance programs will limit the impact of seasonal gains during that period, helping to drive elevated levels of food insecurity.
    • Unlike in urban areas, prices for livestock in rural areas are down sharply since June. The poor pastoral conditions triggered atypically large animal sales, which was further exacerbated by the practices of livestock traders. Consequently, poor pastoral households currently facing livelihood protection deficits will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity through September.
    • Due to average seasonal rainfall forecasts, pastoral conditions and rainfed crop harvests are expected to be favorable between October and December. As a result, food security outcomes for poor households in areas currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Mauritania.

    Niger

    • The 2015 rainy season started late in the country's agricultural and pastoral areas, where the pastoral lean season is lasting longer than usual.
    • Despite the late start to the rainy season, rainfall totals since the first dekad of July 2015 have been favorable, allowing for the planting of crops to finish and for the normal growth of crops already planted. Seasonal forecasts indicate average to above-average rainfall totals for the rest of the season.
    • Despite the ongoing lean season, which is resulting in increased market dependance, consumer prices of cereals remain below the seasonal average thanks to sufficient supply. The exception is in the Diffa region, where Boko Haram conflict is disrupting normal trade.
    • With the exception of the Diffa region, where households are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the effects of the Boko Haram conflict, acute food insecurity should remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the rest of the country from October through December thanks to improved food availability and access during the harvest period and better pastoral conditions.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Niger.

    Nigeria

    • There are continuing conflict-related restrictions on food access and physical food availability in northeastern Nigeria. Borno and Yobe States, along with northern Adamawa State, will be in a state of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between July and September, with the worst-off areas, including IDP settlement areas in Maiduguri, facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food security. In these areas, households have large food consumption gaps and there is a heightened risk of acute malnutrition and excess mortality.
    • Harvests for the main growing season in northeastern Nigeria, which normally take place in October, will be well below-average for the third consecutive year, which will sharply limit the availability of home-grown food stocks and market supplies. While the October harvests could improve food availability to some extent, much of Borno and Yobe States and parts of Adamawa State will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between October and December, where households will continue to have difficulty meeting their basic food needs.
    • Most households across the rest of the country will benefit from stable market prices for staple cereals and an average stream of seasonal income between now and September. More specifically, the upcoming October harvests will help promote good market supplies and a seasonal decline in market prices. In addition, below-average cereal prices and good livestock prices will create favorable livestock-cereal terms of trade. Accordingly, most of Nigeria will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between July and December 2015.

    To learn more, see the July through December 2015 Food Security Outlook for Nigeria.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]

    Central African Republic

    • The conflict in the Central African Republic continues, though its intensity has diminished with the increased presence of national and international peace-keeping forces and local conflict resolution initiatives designed to promote social accord. This is reflected in the gradual return of displaced persons to their villages and towns of origin.
    • However, the observed continuing conflict is reportedly leading to new population movements in mixed farming and pastoral areas driven by problems with access to natural resources and livestock thefts.
    • The results of rapid assessments of the livelihoods and food consumption of IDPs or returnees by certain NGOs are concerning. There will continue to be Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity through December 2015, particularly in prefectures in the central and western reaches of the country.

    To learn more, see the July 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for the Central African Republic.

    Guinea

    • The normal progression of the growing season and the provision of farm inputs by the government are, in general, creating favorable conditions for crop growth and development and bodes well for a good October harvest. In addition, ongoing agricultural activities are providing income-generating opportunities for poor households through farm labor.
    • With ongoing relief efforts and the normal progression of the growing season encouraging farmers to unload last year’s crops, nearly all reference markets in Guinea are still well-stocked with foodstuffs and July prices were relatively stable. However, most households will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity through September 2015 on account of the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak on household income levels.
    • The October harvest will improve food availability for poor households, as well as provide them with seasonal income-earning opportunities from farm labor. As a result, the currently observed Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) starting in October and continuing through at least December 2015.

    To learn more, see the July 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Guinea.

    Liberia

    • Due to the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak on local livelihoods, household purchasing power is atypical weak in July. As a result, the majority of the poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between now and the end of the lean season.  
    • Cumulative rainfall totals in July were average to above average across the country, which is favorable for crop development. The main harvests of these crops in October will increase food availability and improve incomes for poor households. Consequently, food security outcomes to evolve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels during the October to December harvest period.

    To learn more, see the July 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Liberia.

    Sierra Leone

    • Due to the residual effects of the Ebola outbreak on local livelihoods, household purchasing power is atypical weak in July. As a result, the majority of the poor households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between now and the end of the lean season.  
    • Cumulative rainfall totals in July were average to above average across the country, which is favorable for crop development. The main harvests of these crops in October will increase food availability and improve incomes for poor households. Consequently, food security outcomes to evolve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels during the October to December harvest period.

    To learn more, see the July 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Sierra Leone.

    Senegal

    • Poor agropastoral households in central and northern areas of the country who are unable to meet their food needs due to the negative effects of below-average 2014 harvests and limited pasture availability are reducing the size and, in some cases, the number of their meals, as well as resorting to other atypical coping strategies. Consequently, these households are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.
    • This year’s rainfall deficits across the country have prevented the timely planting of crops in agricultural areas and improvements in pastoral conditions in livestock grazing areas. Unusually low levels of labor opportunities due to a reduction in the land area planted in crops this year, as well as low dairy production levels, are reducing incomes for poor agropastoral households.
    • The availability of freshly harvested green crops should ease the severity of food insecurity from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels starting in September. In October, the main harvest and expected decline in cereal prices will help ensure household food access, maintaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and December.

    To learn more, see the July 2015 Remote Monitoring Update for Senegal.

     

    [1]  With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to the previous series of countries in which FEWS NET has a local office, reports on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.

     


    Events that Could Change the Outlook

    Table 1: Possible events over the next six months that could change the most likely scenario

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Sahel

    Earlier than usual end of the rains at the beginning of September, preventing pasture and crops from fully maturing

    • Atypically early migration by pastoral households and their livestock beginning in September, instead of November as in a normal year

    • Atypical reduction in wage income from farm labor

    • Atypically early recourse to unusual coping strategies

    Sahel

    Large-scale locust Infestation

    • Mass destruction of pastures and crops

    • Stockpiling by agricultural households and traders, resulting in an atypical rise in market prices

    • Extension of the lean season

    • Reduction in income from farming activities

    Northern Mali, northeastern Nigeria, Central African Republic, and border areas

    Escalation in civil insecurity

    • Larger numbers of IDPs and refugees in neighboring countries

    • Border closures with neighboring countries

    • Disruption in trade and tight supplies on local markets

    • A larger than expected demand for cereals and rising prices

    • Deterioration in household livelihoods

    Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone

    Stabilization/control of the Ebola outbreak

     

    • Gradual normalization of market operations

    • Better household food access

    • Improvement in the ability of many households to engage in farming activities

     

     
    Figures

    Figure 1

    Source:

    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.

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