Skip to main content

Stressed levels of food insecurity in the North due to shortfalls in production and income

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • March 2015
Stressed levels of food insecurity in the North due to shortfalls in production and income

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Markets are well stocked with cereal crops owing to the good levels of overall crop production in all parts of the country for 2014. In general, millet prices are on par with or six to 24 percent below-average, giving households fairly good food access for this time of year.

    • The earlier than usual lean season currently underway in pastoral areas and the associated higher than usual animal mortality risk between April and May are triggering atypical herd movements, which are reducing milk production and prices for livestock. The resulting drop in income will limit the market access of poor agropastoral households, which will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity as of April.

    • The longer than usual market dependence of poor households in agropastoral areas of Gao and Timbuktu is causing them to scale up their casual labor and borrowing, and cut back their nonfood spending in order to meet their food needs. As a result, they will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity as of April and are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by July.

    Current Situation
    • Ongoing harvests of off-season market garden crops across the country are average to good owing to the sizeable volume of assistance from the government and its development partners. The consumption of these crops and proceeds from their sale are improving the diets and incomes of households in these areas. Likewise, the planting of seedbeds for off-season rice crops and, in some cases, the transplanting of these crops are creating job opportunities for poor households in these rice-growing areas. However, with the low water levels in reservoirs in certain parts of Timbuktu and Gao, the results are not as good as expected.
    • The 11 percent above-average cereal harvests for 2014 across the country are helping to ensure good cereal availability on local markets. There is a normal flow of commodities from crop-producing areas of the Ségou, Koulikoro, and Mopti regions to high-consumption areas of the North and Western Sahel. However, security incidents are disrupting the flow of trade within the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions from time to time. The same is true for trade flows from Algeria, particularly in the case of the Kidal region.

    The price of millet, the most widely consumed cereal crop, has come down on all markets in regional capitals with the exception of Mopti, where it is reportedly slightly above the five-year average by two percent. The largest reported drops in prices are in Koulikoro (26 percent), Ségou (15 percent), Gao (8 percent), and Bamako (9 percent). In general, prices are unchanged or down from last month and last year.

    • There are ongoing atypical herd movements to relatively better grazing areas in the Gao and Timbuktu regions and the Western Sahelian area of Kayes, which are putting pressure on available pasture resources in these areas. The below-average availability of pasture, which over 90 percent of households in these areas consider inadequate according to the national food security and nutrition survey of February 2015, points to an earlier than usual lean season for pastoral populations. The uncharacteristically early lean season, which is expected to be harsher than usual, will affect animal production and drive animal mortality rates above-average betweens April and June in certain areas. There are already reports of animals in poor physical condition in holding areas of Gourma Rharous, Goundam (Timbuktu), Bourem, and Ansongo (Gao). There are larger market supplies of livestock in areas with poor pasture production, both from the local area and, in the case of Nara, from Mauritania. The normal seasonal increase in supplies to meet cereal need will be accentuated by the culling of livestock herds in which weaker animals are sold off to take advantage of their better prices before the beginning of the critical period in April-May.
    • Despite the good supply of livestock on markets, livestock prices are still generally above the five-year average due to a normal market demand and the quality of the animals offered for sale. The price of a female goat, the animal most commonly sold by poor households, is above-average by 20 percent in Timbuktu, 13 percent in Gao, and 14 percent in Kidal. With livestock prices still fairly good, terms of trade for goats/millet are above-average by approximately 15.7 percent in Timbuktu and six percent in Gao, giving pastoral households with livestock capital adequate market access.
    • The unstable security conditions in the northern part of the country marked by localized unrest continue to negatively affect the economic recovery in these areas, limiting employment and income-earning opportunities for poor households.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from January through June 2015.

    Projected Outlook through June 2015

    Average levels of cereal production and average earnings from their usual sources of income will continue to give agropastoral households in the southern part of the country fairly good food access between March and the next round of harvests. The usual preparations for the upcoming growing season in April will create job and, by extension, income-earning opportunities for poor households as a way to improve their market access. The average harvests of off-season market garden crops in February and March and rice harvests in June should help provide households with enough food and income to meet their needs. With their continued food access, households in this part of the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity throughout the outlook period.

    The premature depletion of food stocks in areas with poor crop production, riverine areas of Gao and Bourem,  the Haoussa area of Niafunké, lake areas of Goundam, Youwarou, and Douentza, and the northern reaches of Kayes and Nara districts is causing households to resort to market purchase sooner than usual to meet their food needs. Poor households in these areas will turn to cost-cutting strategies favoring food spending, scale up their casual labor, and resort to heavier than usual borrowing in order to maintain their food access. As a result, they will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity between April and the next round of harvests in October. Very poor households with large livestock protection deficits, particularly in the Timbuktu and Gao regions, could very likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between July and September.

    The earlier than usual lean season in northern pastoral areas affecting the physical condition of the animal population is a contributing factor in the deterioration in terms of trade for livestock by driving down their prices. Their small animal herds and the drop in prices for livestock will reduce the incomes of poor pastoral households, negatively affecting their market access in April. Thus, poor pastoral households experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in February will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions as of April, during the harsher than usual lean season in pastoral areas of Gao and Timbuktu.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top