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Humanitarian assistance programs prevent a deterioration in food security outcomes

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • June 2014
Humanitarian assistance programs prevent a deterioration in food security outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • In pastoral areas, below-average livestock-to-cereal terms of trade, due to unusually poor pastoral conditions, are reducing market access for pastoralists. This, along with the adverse effects of conflict on economic activities, is contributing to Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity in these areas.
    • During the peak of the agropastoral lean season (July to September), humanitarian assistance should prevent Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity from deteriorating further in northern riverine areas, agropastoral areas of Gourma Rharous, and the Bandiagara plateau.

    Current Situation

    Seasonal progress

    In southern agricultural areas, average to above-average cumulative rainfall totals, as of June 20, 2014, have helped start the upcoming growing season. Households also have average access to agricultural inputs due to government input subsidies that are higher than in past years and to humanitarian programs that are providing seeds to areas hard hit by the poor 2013-14 harvest (Dogon Plateau, Nara, and northern regions). Ongoing plowing and cereal planting activities are providing households with normal levels of employment opportunities. Average incomes and in-kind payments from these activities will allow poor households to meet their needs as usual during this time period.

    Pastoral conditions are beginning to improve, particularly in the south, with the replenishment of watering holes and the growth of fresh pasture. Livestock body conditions are average overall but poor in Bandiagara and in areas of Gao and Timbuktu.

    Markets and price trends

    Cereal availability on markets is satisfactory, despite the seasonal decrease in supply volumes. The price of millet, the main cereal consumed during Ramadan, is up slightly from last month. For example, prices increased 4 percent in Ségou and 5 percent in San. Compared to the five-year average, millet prices are up around 8 percent in Koulikoro, Ségou, and Gao, down 6 percent in Sikasso, and close to the average in Mopti and Timbuktu. Livestock prices continue to fall compared to last month on markets in pastoral areas of Gao and Timbuktu due to poor livestock body conditions resulting from a lack of pasture. Compared to last month, goat prices are down 10 percent in Kidal, 12 percent in Timbuktu, 13 percent in Gao, and 15 percent in Bandiagara. However, goat prices on these same markets remain 3 to 10 percent above the five-year average.

    Current food security situation in the south

    Food insecurity remains at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels in most southern agropastoral areas. However, in Bandiagara and Nara, poor households for whom the lean season started earlier than normal (in April-May instead of June-July) are resorting to atypical coping strategies to meet their needs. Households are not only reducing the size but also the quality of their meals, with diets predominantly made up of uncooked foods (ex. yogurt) and the consumption of more leaves and wild fruits than usual, particularly on the Dogon Plateau. However, the distribution of free food rations and cash-for-work programs on the Dogon Plateau will limit the usage of negative coping strategies, allowing households in this area to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity.  

    Current food security situation in the north (Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal)

    Food insecurity in Kidal and Ménaka in mid-May led to population displacements to other regions and limited the reach of food distribution operations. However, these operations resumed after the fighting ended with the return of some humanitarian agencies to these areas.

    In pastoral zones, terms of trade are approximately 10 percent below average in Kidal and Timbuktu and 18 percent below average in Gao, negatively impacting market access for pastoral households. However, ongoing humanitarian assistance is preventing the food security situation from deteriorating further, allowing poor households in these pastoral areas to remain under Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity.

    In agropastoral areas that are still suffering from the economic impacts of the recent security crisis, poor households experienced an early start to the lean season in April. As a result, they have resorted to food and cash loans, labor sales, and the reduction of meal sizes earlier than normal and at atypically intense levels. However, these poor households remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity due to the positive effects of ongoing distributions of food rations by humanitarian agencies to more than 65 percent of the food-insecure population. In addition, several partners in these areas are operating programs to help households rebuild their livelihoods.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has had no effect on most of the assumptions FEWS NET used to develop the most likely food security scenario for April through September. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • Rainy season: Average to slightly below-average cumulative rainfall totals are expected throughout most of the country for the current growing season, according to several seasonal weather forecasts (ACMAD, IRI, ECMWF). However, below-average to average cumulative rainfall totals are expected in the western part of the country. Average crop production levels are therefore expected throughout Mali.
    • Humanitarian assistance: Emergency humanitarian assistance programs for northern and central Mali are planned, funded, and likely through September. More than 1 million people will be affected by food distribution programs.

    Projected Outlook through September 2014

    Expected rainfall from now through August 2014 will allow agricultural activities to continue normally, providing poor households in agricultural areas with average opportunities for food and income. Food insecurity should remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels for poor households in most southern agricultural areas.

    New pasture growth in July will end the pastoral lean season. Milk supplies and livestock body conditions will improve, bringing terms of trade close to or above average levels. However, in the north, lower income levels and depleted livelihoods in a still troubled economic environment will continue to limit market access for poor households. Consequently, they will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity until September.

    In Bandiagara and northern agropastoral areas, poor agropastoral households will resort to atypical coping strategies, such as consuming more leaves than usual and reducing meal sizes, during the lean season (June to August). However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity will not deteriorate further thanks to ongoing humanitarian assistance. In September, the availability of early green crops and milk will reduce food insecurity in these areas.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Start of the 2014 rainy season

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Start of the 2014 rainy season

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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