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Access in northern pastoral areas undermined by residual effects of insecurity and lean season

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • May 2013
Access in northern pastoral areas undermined by residual effects of insecurity and lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • IPC Phase 3: Crisis levels of food insecurity have remained stable in pastoral areas where the lean season is underway, and IPC Phase 2: Stress acute food insecurity outcomes are also stable in the riverbelt zones. Improving trade flows, the gradual economic recovery, and ongoing deliveries of humanitarian assistance since March should prevent any deterioration in food security in areas of concern.  

    • Northern markets continue to recover. Food prices are unchanged or up slightly from last month by five to ten percent, but still above the five-year average by 15 percent in Timbuktu and by as much as 35 percent in Gao. 

    • Available supplies of off-season cereal crops (rice and wheat) in the Office du Niger area, the Western Sahel, the Kayes region, and parts of livelihood zone 3 in Timbuktu are helping to improve food availability in these areas. 


    Current Situation

    Food security in the northern part of the country is of continuing concern, particularly among poor pastoral households in the middle of the pastoral lean season.

    In the south

    • Market supply is at normal seasonal levels. According to OMA (Agricultural Market Watch), demand is down in major cereal-producing areas despite the reopening of major roads that connect these areas with the north. Normally, weekly cereal flows from San to northern areas of the country (Gao, Douentza, and Gossi) are estimated at around 300-400 metric tons, compared with the current figure of approximately 200 metric tons of millet, sorghum, and rice.
    • Prices on most markets are stable or up slightly, which is helping households maintain their food access. Millet prices in Ségou and Koulikoro are slightly above the five-year average by three percent and 26 percent, respectively. In general, rice prices are more or less stable, with prices in Ségou and Mopti down by six percent and ten percent, respectively.
    • Ongoing preparations for the upcoming growing season are a potential source of food and income for poor households in southern farming areas, particularly with many areas already reporting the first rainfall of the season.
    • Poor households in Pondori, in the Djenné District, are resorting to coping strategies to temper the effects of the poor 2012 harvest. Without assistance to enable poor households to channel their resources into buying seeds, there is a high risk of an escalation in these coping strategies during the lean season (July through September).

    In the north

    • The improvement in security conditions has helped increase the flow of trade compared to previous months. Market supplies of staple foods are increasing. A dozen or so trucks a week are supplying the Gao region with cereal from San, up from the two to four trucks a week getting through at the height of the fighting. With the small volume of imports from Nigeria to the region, traders are reportedly exporting millet to Niger from Ansongo. Millet prices on the Timbuktu and Gao markets are above the five-year average by approximately 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively. Rice prices are down by five percent in Timbuktu and are stable in Gao and Kidal.
    • The recovery of livestock markets in Gao and Timbuktu is increasing sales opportunities for pastoralists. However, the steady deterioration in the physical condition of livestock during the lean season in pastoral areas and the usual ensuing drop in livestock prices are affecting the incomes. Despite six percent improvement in Timbuktu and the 13 percent improvement in terms of trade in Ansongo since last month, rates for goats/millet are still under the five-year average by 10 to 15 percent.
    • Economic activity is generally still slow in spite of the measures taken to secure a number of major roads linking the north with the south and with neighboring areas of Niger and Burkina Faso. The main income-generating activities for poor households are the sale of bourgou grass and straw, brick-laying, and farm labor preparing the land for the planting of crops. Income from these activities is down by 25 percent compared with the norm.
    • Humanitarian assistance in Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal are limiting the use of harmful coping strategies, particularly in the riverbelt area where most of these assistance efforts are concentrated. More than 483,982 people benefited from the distributions of monthly food rations by the government, WFP, and ICRC between January and April of this year. The resumption of school meal programs in the Timbuktu and Gao regions is beneficial for local schoolchildren.
    • The sharp decline in employment opportunities with the flight of better-off households, limited sales opportunities for livestock and the small volume of humanitarian assistance have resulted in IPC Phase 3 Crisis outcomes for poor households in pastoral areas in the midst of the yearly lean season. The unfavorable economic climate in livelihood zone 3 will continue to make it difficult for local households to maintain adequate food access without resorting to harmful strategies such as cutting the size of their meals. As a result, these households are experiencing IPC Phase 2: Stress levels of food insecurity. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not changed the assumptions used by FEWS NET to establish the most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013.


    Projected Outlook through September 2013
    • Good cereal availability, strengthened by the upcoming June harvests of off-season rice crops in the Office du Niger area and certain irrigation schemes (Pleine de San-Ouest, OPIB, and ODRS), should keep food insecurity at Minimal levels (IPC Phase 2) for households in the southern part of the country.
    • Crisis conditions affecting pastoral households should improve with the beginning of the rains in June/July, which should boost milk production, as well as encourage more livestock sales opportunities.  Similar improvement is expected in livelihood zone 3, which has the largest concentration of food assistance programs and where households are currently in IPC Phase 2: Stress. The acceleration of farming activities in May-June and the ongoing maize harvest in the Lac Faguibine area (Timbuktu) will provide poor households in the country’s riverbelt area with a potential source of food and income.  
    • The deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali in early July will help better restore stability and support efforts to strengthen humanitarian operations across the north. The restoration of stability should provide new momentum for the economic recovery with the resumption of banking services, whose role is currently being filled in part by individuals and Orange Money.   
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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