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Effects of agropastoral lean season lessened by an average green harvest and humanitarian assistance

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • September 2018
Effects of agropastoral lean season lessened by an average green harvest and humanitarian assistance

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface

  • Preface



    FEWS NET Food Security Outlook Updates in September 2018 have an extended outlook beyond the standard projection period. The end of this report includes a discussion of most-likely outcomes through the end of the next lean season for this country. Reporting for this country may follow a non-standard schedule in the coming months. Check back regularly for new analysis, subscribe for report updates, or follow us on social media.

    Key Messages
    • Overall, the development of the agropastoral growing season has been average to good across Mali and average to above-average cereal production can therefore be anticipated. However, local production declines due to flooding and damage from pests such as caterpillars, birds, aphids and grasshoppers will lead to early stock depletion in areas across the country.

    • Market food supply will remain satisfactory throughout the country. Household access to food is continuously improving thanks to the availability of green crops, stable cereal prices and improved trading terms for livestock and cereals.

    • For the majority of poor households Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity will improve from October onwards to become Minimal (IPC Phase 1). This is due to the arrival of the first harvests and the anticipated fall in cereal prices.

    • There are an estimated 22,083 poor households, equivalent to more than 137,000 people, affected by flooding who will be unable to meet their food and livelihood needs without resorting to atypical coping strategies. This is also the case for persons displaced by community conflicts in the Mopti, Ménaka and Gao regions. As a result, there will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity and humanitarian aid will be needed.


    Seasonal progress

    The development of the agricultural growing season is considered average to good throughout the country. This is due to normal to above-normal levels of rainfall, support for agricultural inputs from the Government and other partners and a relatively stable phytosanitary situation. Mild to moderate damage to maize crops caused by armyworm was recorded in the main production areas. Biochemical treatments and alternative control methods have so far reduced the level of damage. Weather forecasts indicate normal to above-average rainfall for September and October, which will allow crops to properly complete their development cycle. Production forecasts are approximately 25 percent above the five-year average, according to the Planning and Statistics Unit of the Rural Development Sector ( September 2018).The forecasts anticipate an average level of food availability in the country from October to January 2019. Ongoing field maintenance operations provide average income and food opportunities for poor households. The first green harvests of maize, fonio, watermelon, peanuts, cowpeas and even floodplain rice will continue to yield crops and provide income and food opportunities for households, particularly those in the agricultural areas in southern Mali and around Lake Timbuktu.

    Livestock conditions are currently good, thanks to the replenishment of watering holes and new pasture growth. Plant biomass production is generally above average (2007-2016), which allows animals to return to a good physical condition and improves milk production for human consumption in most areas, despite certain deficit points. On the whole, the animal disease situation is stable.  The vaccination campaign against primary diseases continues.


    Between late July and September almost all regions across the country recorded medium to severe damage to habitats, cereal stores, cultivated land and livestock and even loss of human life due to heavy rains and severe river flooding.  As of September 17 there are more than 137,000 people in 22,083 households (Civil Protection Directorate General, September 2018) who are affected by this damage. The damage has a negative effect on their livelihoods and increases their vulnerability to food insecurity, particularly in the regions of Gao, Timbuktu, Segou and Koulikoro. Food and non-food support has been provided by the Government and certain humanitarian partners.

    Market function and cereal prices 

    Market cereal supplies remain sufficient on the whole, despite the seasonal decline in supply. In the regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kayes, sales are subsidized by the Office of Agricultural Products of Mali (OPAM) and sales in the southern regions are subsidized by cereal banks which strengthens the market supply. Compared to last month, cereal prices are stable on most of the markets. On all markets, the price of millet is higher than the five-year average. This ranges from nine percent higher in Bamako to 25 percent higher in Kayes, which has a negative impact on market access for poor households.

    Livestock markets

    Livestock prices have improved over the last few months thanks to an improvement in the physical condition of the animals and the current breeding conditions. Compared to the five-year average, the price of goats is down by 13 percent in Timbuktu, 14 percent in Bourem, 16 percent in Rharous, 25 percent in Goundam and by a similar amount in Gao. At the end of August, trading terms for goats and millet had improved in comparison to the previous months but were below the five-year average, particularly in Bourem (-30 percent), Gao (-17 percent), Rharous (-25 percent), Goundam (-27 percent). This limits access to food for pastoral households.

    Security situation and population movements

    The security situation remains fragile in the northern regions, in Mopti and in northern Segou. There have been security incidents and inter-community clashes particularly in the regions of Timbuktu (19,696 people), Mopti (15,773 people), Ménaka (12,543 people) and Gao (9,754 people). This disrupts the free movement of people and goods and economic recovery in these areas. Unusual movement of people to safer areas threatens their livelihoods. As of August 30, 2018, 75,351 internally displaced persons (IDPs) or 16,010 households had been registered according to the Commission on Population Movement (CMP). There are also an estimated 139,839 Malian refugees in neighboring countries bordering, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These displaced persons and poor refugees will not be able to adequately meet their food needs without humanitarian aid.

    By the end of August 2018, approximately 714,100 people had received food and non-food assistance from humanitarian agencies. This assistance will continue throughout the country in September in order to reduce difficulties in accessing food and the use of negative coping strategies.


    The current situation has not affected the development of the most likely FEWS NET scenario for June to January 2019.



    Estimated outlook through January 2019: The availability of green crops (maize, fonio, peanuts, cowpeas and watermelons), wild products and early varieties of millet ends the food shortage in the agricultural areas in southern Mali. Average income opportunities from agricultural labor and other typical income sources, as well as improving pastoral incomes, supports average household food access. The resulting improvement in food consumption and food diversity keeps the majority of households in the country in a Minimal (IPC Phase 1), which will continue until January 2019. The global acute malnutrition rate of 11.2 percent for July 2018 is expected to decline as usual during this period but will remain above the WHO threshold of 5 percent.

    Poor agropastoral households around the Goundam Lakes area, in pastoral areas in the northern regions and in the western Sahel have experienced a longer lean season than usual due to reduced agricultural production and lower pastoral incomes. To access food, these households have resorted to atypical labor coping strategies, borrowing, reducing non-food and food expenditures and unusual livestock. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity in these areas will continue to improve thanks to ongoing humanitarian assistance providing for food, cash and non-food items. The improvement is also due to better terms of trade for goats and millet caused by the anticipated drop in cereal prices, improved food consumption through increased availability of milk and dairy products, harvesting and household production. 

    Poor households affected by flooding (137,000 people) from July to September and by difficulties in adequately meeting their food and livelihood needs in the absence of external support, will continue to be in a Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Projected outlook until the next lean season (September 2019): The overall increase in cereal production of approximately 25 percent above the average allows for an average level of food availability across the country. The anticipated drop in cereal prices from October to March, in addition to the average level of food availability is conducive to improving access to food for the majority of households until September 2019. The resulting improvement in food consumption and food diversity will reduce the use of atypical coping strategies, leaving the majority of households in the country in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity until September 2019. Food consumption and the improving acute malnutrition rate are expected to decline as usual from April to September 2019.

    In addition, poor households around the Mopti River in Gao and in parts of the regions of Segou and Koulikoro, will experience early stock depletion as a result of reduced cereal production caused by floods and pests. From April 2019, the increase in cereal prices, which will remain above average, will have a negative impact on food access for poor households still suffering the consequences of the security crisis. Food consumption decline and the rate of acute malnutrition above the critical threshold will be higher than usual. Resorting to atypical labor strategies, loans, non-food and food expenditure reduction, unusual livestock sales and migration in order to access food will put these households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from April to September 2019. This will also apply to poor, flood-affected households across the country. From June 2019, food and non-food humanitarian aid will help to limit the use of negative coping strategies, especially for the poorest households.

    Figures Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies for April 01, 2018 to September 10, 2018: more than usual rainfall in most of the cou

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies for April 01, 2018 to September 10, 2018

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Title: Mali seasonal calendar Description: Rainy season is from mid-May until October. Land preparation is from April until J

    Figure 2


    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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