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Declining livestock to cereal terms of trade reduce market access for pastoralists

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • May 2014
Declining livestock to cereal terms of trade reduce market access for pastoralists

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as of May 25, 2014, security incidents in the middle of May in the Kidal area displaced approximately 1,086 people. This could disrupt economic activity and the flow of market supplies, adversely affecting market access for local populations in impacted areas.
    • Due to limited availability of pasture and water, livestock to cereal terms of trade in pastoral areas are declining and are curtailing market access for pastoral households. Despite humanitarian assistance efforts, these households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.
    • Due to the sharp decline in production levels and incomes from agricultural and pastoral activities, the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity currently observed in northern riverine areas and agropastoral areas of Gourma Rharous district and the Bandiagara Plateau will reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by June-July, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.

    Current situation
    Southern agricultural areas
    • Field clean-up work, fertilizer transportation services, and early crop planting activities for the upcoming growing season (June to October 2014) are underway, bolstered by the continuing agricultural input subsidy program run by the government. The start-up of agricultural work is providing average food and income-generating opportunities for poor households, particularly in agricultural areas that have seen earlier than usual rainfall (Figure 1).
    • Cereal prices are on par with or slightly above last month’s levels and the five-year average. As of May 25th, sorghum prices in Sikasso and Mopti were two percent and five percent, respectively, above-average. Similarly, millet prices in Kayes and Koulikoro were 1.5 percent and 12 percent above-average, respectively. Average incomes from normal income-generating activities are allowing households to maintain their food access on local markets.
    • However, large shortfalls in their crop production and/or farm income due to atypically dry weather conditions during last year’s rainy season are causing poor households in the Dogon Plateau area of Bandiagara and in the northern reaches of Nara, Diéma, and Nioro districts to resort to unusually early and high levels of borrowing, atypical productive assets sales, reductions in their food intake, and increased consumption of wild fruits and nuts. While the combined effects of these strategies, along with scheduled distributions of food assistance between February and July by WFP to approximately 71 percent of the population in the 16 affected municipalities of Bandiagara district, are preventing a further deterioration of food security outcomes, these households are, nonetheless, Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    Northern agropastoral and pastoral areas
    • The reported violence between May 17th and May 21st in the Kidal area temporarily disrupted humanitarian assistance programs. However, conditions have improved since the cease-fire signed on May 23rd, and humanitarian operations by the World Food Program and International Committee of the Red Cross are gradually resuming distributions of food and nonfood assistance to poor households and IDPs. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as of May 25th, approximately 1,086 people, mainly government workers, had been displaced from the city of Kidal and from Ménaka to other areas. Markets are still open but will likely begin to show the effects of the necessary precautionary measures that are negatively affecting trade flows in this area. However, food prices have so far been stable despite the security incidents in Kidal.
    • The currently harsher than usual lean season in pastoral areas, due to the abnormally sharp deterioration in pastoral conditions, is adversely affecting animal production and income levels from pastoral activities. Poor livestock body conditions in Timbuktu (Goundam cercle) and Gao (Bourem and Ménaka cercles), in particular, are driving down their market value to below-average levels. Terms of trade in these two areas are 14 and 20 percent below-average, respectively.
    • Average harvests of wheat, barley, and anise in April and May in Diré and Goundam are maintaining household food access. Though still well below-average due to civil security issues, incomes from fishing activities, local wage labor, and regular migrant remittances is helping to further improve food access. Ongoing distributions of food assistance by humanitarian organizations to over 30 percent of the population in the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal areas are scheduled to continue through the end of July and are also helping to bolster food access for poor households.
    • Poor pastoralists, due to their unusually limited income-generating capacity from livestock, wage labor, and other activities, are currently having more difficulties than usual meeting their food and nonfood needs. Like agropastoral households, these pastoral households are in the midst of an earlier than usual lean season (since March-April) and are facing declining livestock to cereal terms of trade. Consequently, they have been forced to resort to unusually high levels of borrowing and are reducing the size and, in some cases, the number of their meals. While humanitarian assistance is preventing a further deterioration in food security outcomes, these households are still currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not significantly affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for April through September. However, the following assumption has been added to update the outlook:

    • The civil insecurity in the Kidal area will continue to weaken the socioeconomic climate on the area. This will translate into below-average income levels for poor households in the coming months.

    Projected outlook through September 2014
    • Average trends in typical food and income-generating activities during the current agricultural season should keep food insecurity in southern agropastoral areas at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels.
    • Poor households in northern riverine areas and the southern reaches of Gourma Rharous and Bandiagara districts are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and are resorting to atypical and unusually early coping strategies to meet their food needs. This food insecurity is expected to deteriorate into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in July and August in the absence of continued humanitarian assistance. However in September, the availability of lean season foods (pulses, earth peas, fresh maize, wild fonio, etc.) will help to ease the hardships faced by agropastoral households during the lean season and will bring down food insecurity during this period.
    • Conditions in pastoral areas are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with humanitarian assistance preventing a further deterioration in food security. However, as of June-July, the growth of fresh pasture and the replenishment of watering holes, and the resulting recovery in milk production and livestock body conditions, should improve incomes and the food security situation for pastoralists. These households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during this period, but will no longer require humanitarian assistance to prevent an escalation in food insecurity to a worse phase classification.
    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 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.

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