Food Security Outlook

Unstable security conditions continue to affect food security in northern Mali

April 2013 to September 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • As of April 10th, only 28 percent of the consolidated appeal for humanitarian assistance has been funded, complicating the efficient delivery of assistance to northern populations. Northern pastoral areas will face “Crisis” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) during the pastoral lean season (April through July). 

  • As of July, when milk production and livestock body conditions typically improve, even limited humanitarian assistance programs could reduce crisis conditions to IPC Phase 2 Stress levels. Assistance efforts and the re-opening of local markets will keep pastoral populations in northern rice-growing and agropastoral areas in Phase 2 Stress throughout the outlook period. 

  • The limited livelihoods of poor households in northern rice-growing and agropastoral areas, compounded by food prices, rules out any improvement in the food security situation, particularly with these households becoming increasingly and seasonally dependent on local markets. Humanitarian programs will contribute to the maintenance of IPC Phase 2 Stress levels of food insecurity in these areas throughout the outlook period. With the more or less normal behavior of food security drivers, southern populations will continue to experience only “Minimal” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 1).

  • Trade between the southern and northern parts of the country has improved with the official re-opening of major roads connecting the north with the south and a resumption of trade with neighboring countries like Niger and Burkina Faso. Trade volumes from Algeria are less than normal, but remain steady. At 20 to 30 percent above the five-year average, food prices in the north prevent adequate food access, particularly in pastoral areas suffering from the slump in livestock sales and deteriorating pastoral conditions. Gradual economic improvements are not likely to result in major livelihoods change during the outlook period, which will be marked by the return of displaced populations. 

National Overview

Current situation

The unstable security conditions described in the January Outlook continue to shape food security in the northern part of the country. In spite of this instability, displaced populations are reportedly returning to their homes with support from agencies and communities. The slow improvement in economic activity reflects a positive gain for northern populations.

Mobility and trends in trade flows

Trade between the southern and northern parts of the country has improved with the official re-opening of major roads connecting the north with the south, as well as in trade with neighboring countries like Niger and Burkina Faso. Though volumes are less than usual, this flow of trade is providing major markets with adequate supplies of staple foods.  Truckloads of food arriving in Kidal from Ménaka from Algeria and Niger have been reported, though the intervals between shipments are longer than usual. Markets in Timbuktu and Gao are getting small but steady supplies of Algerian imports, mostly from the large reserves of traders on different markets.

Sporadic attacks by insurgents along certain routes could prevent the normalization of trade during the outlook period, when local populations are increasingly dependent on the market.  Additionally, travel by river, which was a major factor in moving supplies to the northern part of the country with the closure of major roads, is becoming increasingly difficult as the level of the river continues to fall, and renders shipping increasingly complicated and problematic.

Market performance and prices

The restoration of some degree of stability in the northern part of the country by the military presence in that area is encouraging local populations to slowly but steadily resume their normal economic activities. For the most part, major markets have started back up with the improvement in trade with the southern part of the country and Niger. This steady improvement in trade is sustaining the increasingly active market recovery in the north.

The drop in food prices since January-February is attributable to improved market performance and market food supplies, facilitating household food access compared to last month. The price of millet is down by 20 to 25 percent from February though still 20 to over 30 percent above the five-year average. Food prices on the Kidal market have remained stable while the lack of access to Algerian markets and a massive military presence in that area are helping to drive up demand. However, supply is still sufficient to meet food needs among local populations.

Livestock markets recovery in pastoral areas has been difficult without the presence of the usual wholesale traders from neighboring countries like Niger, Nigeria, and Algeria, and has hit the pastoralists in Kidal particularly hard. Slow market recovery is also hurting the income of pastoralists, who were unable to take advantage of the high-sales period in January-February to stock up on supplies.

Return of displaced populations and assistance

Internally displaced people are slowly returning to their homes with the help of certain freight companies offering free transportation as far as Gao.  According to UN OCHA, approximately 8,417 (of an estimated 282,548), had returned to their homes as of mid-April.  Needs for food and other commodities and services such as home repairs, fuel, etc. are reportedly providing opportunities to jump-start business activities in urban areas across the north.

Ongoing humanitarian food and nonfood assistance programs for local populations are still limited due to the unstable security conditions and the poor response to the Consolidated Appeal Process for humanitarian funding. This assistance, which is concentrated mostly in the riverbelt area, is having relatively little impact on pastoral households during the current lean season, although a steady stream of assistance continues to displaced populations in the south. As of the end of March, approximately 500,000 people benefitted from food assistance delivered by humanitarian organizations (in the north and to displaced people in the south). The humanitarian community is also planning to provide agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizer, and animal feed) and animal health services for residents of northern areas.

Pastoral households with restricted mobility during the ongoing lean season, whose seasonal livelihood strategies have been curtailed by the disruption of livestock markets and the limited availability of humanitarian assistance, are in IPC Phase 3 Crisis. Pastoralists in secured areas or close to reopened markets are in IPC Phase 2 Stress, as are agropastoral households in riverbelt and lake areas benefiting from humanitarian assistance and the slow economic recovery.

Food security in southern areas

The smooth operation of cereal and livestock markets in the southern part of the country is ensuring adequate household food supplies. Normal seasonal trends in cereal prices, at levels five to 20 percent above the five-year average, are helping to maintain household food access, particularly with many households less dependent on the market after the latest round of good harvests. Ongoing harvests of off-season maize crops in Kayes region and of market garden crops country-wide are contributing to improvements in food availability and income derived from crop sales. The current average or good pastoral conditions early in the pastoral lean season are preventing animal weight loss and decreased milk production. Flood recession fishing activities in rivers and streams and group fishing in seasonal lakes and ponds are yielding large catches, with positive effects on household food consumption and income in these areas. Overall, positive trends in key food security drivers are helping to maintain “Minimal” levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) during the current period.   

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013 is grounded in the following basic assumptions regarding developments in the nationwide situation:

General assumptions:

  • Start of the rainy season: The rainy season will get off to a normal start in the Sahel, producing average levels of well-balanced rainfall between May and August 2013. The timely start of the rains in the Sahel signals a positive outlook for improved pastoral conditions and and a good start for the upcoming growing season, with positive impacts on the pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods across the country.
  • Crop production: Off-season crops will continue to progress normally in spite of the volatile security conditions in both the north and the south. Based on the assistance furnished by the FAO and other NGOs in the form of agricultural inputs, the harvest outlook is average to good for these crops. Ongoing harvests (of wheat in Diré, tubers and maize in lake areas, and maize in Kayes) and upcoming June-July harvests (of rice in Niono and maize in Faguibine and Horo) should help improve food availability in these areas.
  • Animal production: As usual, animal production will decline during the lean season in pastoral areas. However, the decline will be much steeper in northern areas; disruptions in migratory movements by transhumant herds due to the military operations in these areas have been reported.
  • Livestock prices: Livestock prices will follow normal seasonal trends, with foreign demand keeping prices consistently above-average throughout the outlook period, particularly in southern farming areas. The market disruptions and limited market access of pastoralists in the northern part of the country will cause livestock sales to slump locally in spite various indicators of gradual recovery.
  • Cereal prices: Cereal prices on markets across the country will follow normal seasonal trends but will stay above the five-year average throughout the outlook period. The effect of institutional stock-building activities will be mitigated by the reduced size of these procurements (4,000 MT instead of 35,000 MT).  Demand will be unusually heavy on markets in southeastern Mali along the border with Burkina Faso to meet cereal needs in northern Nigeria due to the poor harvest in that area.
  • Fishing: The falling levels of rivers will improve fish catches, producing a larger than usual stream of income for fishing households between April and May, particularly in livelihood zones 3 and 6.
  • Migration and population movements: The usual flow of labor migration will continue through the end of June in both the south and the north. The proceeds from this short-term seasonal labor migration (in the form of food and cash) will help ease hardships for poor households between June and July. A steady stream of IDPs returning to their homes will continue throughout the outlook period in spite of reports of sporadic attacks.

Assumptions specific to the north:

  • Armed conflict: The security situation will continue to be marked by localized unrest throughout the outlook period. These unstable security conditions will continue to hinder the economic recovery and revival of trade, particularly in the Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and northern Mopti regions. 
  • Mobility in conflict areas: Signs of improved mobility are apparent in the northern part of the country. However, mobility is still limited in pastoral areas serving as the theater of military operations, which is restricting market access by pastoralists and reducing incomes, as wholesalers are reticent to venture into these areas with large sums of cash.
  • Humanitarian programs: Emergency food and nonfood assistance programs by humanitarian organizations in northern pastoral areas will be limited by under-funding and unstable security conditions confining assistance efforts to more secure areas. Humanitarian operations in livelihood zone 3 and near-by pastoral areas will be further expanded. These humanitarian programs are expected to be stepped up in with ensuing improvements in access to target areas and in program funding levels. Recovery programs mounted as part of livelihood rebuilding efforts in the southern part of the country will continue in all areas affected by last year’s events (the Niger River Delta and the Western Sahel), according to the different programs in place, as will assistance programs for displaced northern populations in other parts of the country, or an estimated target population of over 280,000 IDPs.
  • Seasonal migration by transhumant livestock: A scale back of military operations should allow for the slow but steady normalization of herd movements by transhumant livestock during the outlook period. This year’s reportedly good levels of natural vegetation (a net surplus) should prevent any larger than usual losses of livestock.
  • Banking system: In the absence of traditional banking systems in this area, and given that local banks are slow to reopen, financial transfers will instead be made through informal networks of private individuals and freight companies. The shutdown of local banks will continue to affect the flow of commercial trade and migrant remittances.
  • Economic activity/income: Commercial activities in the north will continue to be hampered by the unstable security situation, which is slowing the progress of the economic recovery jump-started by the return of displaced populations. However, there will be a noticeable improvement compared with conditions in the past several months, particularly in urban areas. The pick-up in on-farm employment, sales of straw and bourgou grass, fishing activities, transportation services, and small-scale trading will bring in more income for poor households in these areas.
  • Borrowing by poor households: As usual, poor households in the north will resort to borrowing in slightly larger than usual amounts, beginning as of March. Their ability to “push the envelope” will be limited by their lack of credibility with lenders.  
Most likely food security outcomes

Normal market performance in the southern part of the country, with prices slightly above the five-year average by five to 20 percent, will help give poor households fairly good food access between April and July. Income from the usual labor migration and income-generating activities (trade and sales of wood and straw) between April and June and the availability of on-farm employment between June and August will help provide very poor and poor households with sufficient food (from in-kind wage payments for farm labor) and income to meet their dietary needs. The improvement in terms of trade for goats/millet on most southern markets by 15 to over 30 percent will strengthen the access of agropastoral households to food markets. Ongoing cereal harvests in the Kayes region and the upcoming June harvest in irrigated rice-farming schemes will improve food access in these areas. The availability of famine foods (pulses and wild fruits and nuts) and early cereal harvests in September will mark the end of the lean season. These factors will keep food insecurity levels for very poor and poor households in the south at IPC Phase 1 Minimal levels throughout the outlook period.

Pastoralists in the northern part of the country where the beginning of the lean season has been marked by unusual market disruptions are facing serious problems presented by the slump in livestock sales, the falling market value of their animals, and the decline in milk production. Pastoral populations currently in IPC Phase 3 Crisis as a result of the shutdown of area markets, particularly the Kidal market, will further deteriorate as livestock markets remain extremely slow. The decline in terms of trade for goats/millet, putting it approximately 10 percent below-average in Timbuktu and 20 percent below-average in Kidal, and the limited volume of humanitarian assistance are heightening problems for poor households who depend mainly on pastoral activities. The concentration of conflict in these pastoral areas, disrupting livestock markets and preventing the sale of livestock and the purchasing of food supplies, could make conditions even more difficult. By July, improvements in milk production and the physical condition of livestock and the slow resumption of humanitarian assistance programs should start to improve the situation, which should further improve with the availability of wild plant foods in September. The current IPC Phase 3 Crisis levels of food insecurity could improve to IPC Phase 2 Stress by July-August. Pastoral populations in and around northern rice-growing and agropastoral areas will continue to be classified as in IPC Phase 2 Stress throughout the outlook period with the assistance efforts and the re-opening of markets in these areas.

The depleted livelihoods of poor households in northern rice-growing and agropastoral areas, combined with 20 to over 30 percent above-average food prices, reduces the likelihood of any food security improvements, particularly as these households becoming increasingly dependent on local markets, as is generally the case at this time of year. The limited distributions of food supplies under humanitarian assistance programs will contribute to the maintenance of IPC Phase 2 Stress through the end of June. The pick-up in agricultural activities in June will create job opportunities for poor households and a means of access to food and income to meet their needs. However, the economic situation in these areas will limit the numbers of these paying jobs, negatively impacting earning potential. Expected improvements in humanitarian programs as of July will help maintain household food insecurity in IPC Phase 2 Stress between July and September. However, any disruption in the operation of these humanitarian programs will heighten the severity of food insecurity for poor households, putting them in IPC Phase 3 between July and September.

Areas of Concern

Livelihood zones 1 (Nomadism and trans-Saharan trade) and 2 (Nomadic and transhumant pastoralism)

Current situation

Nomadic or transhumant pastoralism, trans-Saharan trade between large cities (Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao) and Algeria, and migration are the mainstays of the local economy in both livelihood zones.

Overall, pasture remains adequate despite scattered pockets of pasture deficits. However, disruptions in herd movements are preventing the balanced use of available pasture supplies, with negative effects on milk production.  Limited trade flows are aggravating constraints for pastoralists who are highly dependent on local markets to sell their livestock and buy food supplies. The slow but steady trade flows with Algeria and Niger, the main trading markets for these pastoral areas, is helping to keep local markets stocked with staple foodstuffs, preventing shortages, although the poor performance of livestock markets is limiting the food access of pastoral households. Increased staple food prices (20 to 30 percent) are further weakening pastoral purchasing power given the sharp drop in demand and falling market value of their livestock at the onset of the lean season. Although improved since February, terms of trade for goats/millet are still 15 to more than 25 percent below-average, an indicator of poor market access.

Humanitarian assistance efforts in this area are still limited, severely hampered by the unstable security situation. Nutritional monitoring is still problematic with the shutdown of treatment programs for malnourished children. According to a study of nutritional conditions in a refugee camp in Kidal by the NGO Médecin du Monde in February of this year, of a total of 99 children screened for malnutrition, 18 percent were diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition and six with severe malnutrition, putting the GAM rate for that community at 24 percent.

Faced with the depletion of their livelihoods, local populations are resorting to coping strategies such as eating fewer meals and relying on whatever limited assistance is available. Calculations of the food consumption score in Abeïbara and Tessalit in February put the percentage of households with poor and borderline food intake at 62 and 82 percent, respectively (WFP). These high percentages are indicative of how hard it is for poor households to access sufficient food supplies, particularly in refugee camps and is illustrative of IPC Phase 3 Crisis conditions faced by these pastoral populations who are far removed from large accessible markets in the river valley during the current lean season in these areas.  

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario in these two livelihood zones for the period from April through September 2013 is based on the following specific assumptions in addition to the previously outlined national-level assumptions.

  • Ongoing security constraints will continue to disrupt trade from the normal sources for these areas and outlets for the sale of local livestock such as Algeria, Niger, and the Gao market throughout the outlook period. The resulting decline in demand will mean less income for pastoralists, limiting market access to food supplies during the lean season when milk availability is limited. However, the moderate to large disruptions in livestock trade between Chad, eastern Niger, and coastal areas of Nigeria could potentially create a high demand for livestock in certain parts of Burkina Faso, western Niger, and, most likely, in eastern Mali.
  • The growth of fresh pasture and the replenishment of animal watering holes with the beginning of the rainy season will mitigate the negative impact of any unusual herd movements on livestock and milk production. The resulting improvement in milk production will help strengthen the diets of pastoral households.
  • The lean season for pastoral populations will be harsher than usual with unusual herd movements, particularly in livelihood zone 1 where mobility is still extremely limited.
Most likely food security outcomes

The situation of local populations in both livelihood zones is the same due to their complete dependence on the market. Income levels that are approximately 10 to 15 percent below-normal will prompt households to adopt coping strategies to maintain the necessary market access. There will be a larger flow of short-term seasonal labor migration to neighboring countries like Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Algeria. With the slump in livestock sales and resulting loss of income, their very poor food consumption score (70 to 80 percent with poor and borderline consumption), and, in particular, the limited availability of humanitarian assistance, very poor and poor households in livelihood zone 1 and large parts of livelihood zone 2 will be in IPC Phase 3 Crisis between April and June. The decline in milk production during the ongoing lean season will reduce the availability of milk, an essential part of the local diet. The mobility problems in this area will limit the flow of remittances to local populations. There will be fewer loans available to poor households with the flight of local lenders. The disruption of markets will also limit access to credit from local traders. The larger than usual reliance on self-employment in activities such as the selling of wood and straw beginning in April will fail to generate the expected income stream, especially without the demand from displaced populations.

Crisis conditions will be more pronounced in livelihood zone 1 and the northern reaches of livelihood zone 2 than in pastoral areas close to the cities of Gao and Timbuktu, where the limited market recovery will enable local pastoralists to sell their livestock, though at lower than expected prices. Cash remittances will also provide some relief. However, the economic problems plaguing northern Mali for more than a year have weakened the already thin livelihoods of local pastoral populations, who will continue to be classified in IPC Phase 2 Stress throughout the outlook period.

By June-July, with the beginning of the rains, the hardships faced by pastoral households will be eased by increased milk production and the physical condition of their animals, which should command an acceptable price on livestock markets offering at least some sales opportunities at that time of year. By September, the availability of wild edible plants (wild fonio) will bring crisis levels of food insecurity back down to IPC Phase 2 Stress levels).

Livelihood zones 3 (Fluvial rice and transhumant livestock rearing) and 4 (rainfed millet and transhumant livestock rearing) in northern Mali

Current situation

Depletion of staple food stocks from prior harvests is resulting in higher market dependence among local households more to meet their food needs. This is especially true of poor households in the Bourem and Gao regions suffering from the loss of over 40 percent of their crops, which resulted in earlier than usual market dependence. However, the fairly good ongoing harvests of off-season wheat crops in localized riverbelt areas, anise/cumin in the Diré and Goudam regions, and market garden produce in all parts of the country are helping to improve the food availability and incomes of local populations.

The re-opening of major roads between northern and southern Mali after being closed for more than a month has helped increase the flow of trade with the south. Markets are relatively well-stocked with supplies corresponding to the resumption of trade and the ensuing influx of regular suppliers from the south and from Niger. Though improved, trade flows are still smaller than usual but large enough to supply local populations with staple foods. Supplies of Algerian imports are still suffering from the closing of the border with that country, which is limiting the flow of goods from that end. Food prices on both Timbuktu and Gao markets are approximately 20 to 30 percent above-average, complicating the market access of poor households.

The gradual re-opening of livestock markets with the improvement in security conditions and mobility in the north has helped bring wholesalers back to certain markets which, in turn, has strengthened demand for livestock and improved prices. Thus, prices in Timbuktu and Gao are reportedly up from last month by approximately 15 percent and 15 to 25 percent above-average. Though improving, terms of trade for goats/millet in Gao and Timbuktu remain 20 percent and 15 percent below-average, respectively, due to the continuing high price of millet, which negatively impacts food access of agropastoral households despite reported improvement since last month, by 35 percent in Timbuktu and 50 percent in Gao.

Security improvements are prompting displaced populations to return home. The slow return of IDPs and the resulting additional needs for home construction or repair work, labor, and services affording employment and income opportunities for poor households are sustaining gradual economic recovery in these areas. There is a continuing flow of short-term seasonal labor migration to neighboring countries and urban areas within the country, which is an important source of food and income for poor households in these areas, through in-kind and cash remittances. The resumption of monetary transfer services through informal networks of private individuals and freight companies is helping to provide local households with a flow of migration income.

Farmers in lake areas are continuing to actively plant flood-recession crops, as well as off-season rice crops, for which the FAO has furnished inputs for the farming of approximately 930 hectares of croplands in the Timbuktu region and parts of the Gao region.

Poor households whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the special problems in these areas are resorting to borrowing larger than usual amounts to meet their food needs. The flow of humanitarian food (cereals, pulses, oil, etc.) and nonfood (personal hygiene kits, etc.) assistance designed to help prevent households from resorting to harmful coping strategies is still limited due to under-funding and the unstable security conditions in these areas. Some 210,000 recipients in the Timbuktu and Gao regions have received food assistance from WFP and ICRC between February and March of this year. School meal programs, of paramount importance for schoolchildren in northern Mali, have resumed in the riverbelt area.

With the depletion of household crop reserves from previous harvests at this time of year and their below-normal incomes due to the currently depressed socioeconomic climate, poor households are having difficulty effectively meeting their food needs on local markets. The limited volume of food assistance currently available to very poor and poor households to help meet their food needs is forcing them to resort to coping strategies such as reducing their food intake and eating fewer meals, further aggravating food insecurity levels currently classified as IPC Phase 2 Stress.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013 is based on the following assumptions specific to these two livelihood zones in addition to the previously outlined national-level assumptions.

  • By July, the improvement in the navigability of rivers for travel by pirogue will help improve the flow of supplies to residents of the river valley.
  • The pick-up in agricultural activities in May-June will provide employment and income opportunities for poor households. However, the non-reimbursement of water user charges in large-scale irrigated rice-farming schemes calls for special measures to help local residents properly grow rice crops. 
  • Transhumant herds will return to year-round lakes in livelihood zone 4 and the riverbelt area of livelihood zone 3 between April and June to take advantage of available supplies of water and bourgou grasses (aquatic pasture). Livestock herds will head back up to rainy season grazing lands with the beginning of the rains in June-July, ending the lean season in pastoral areas.
  • Good fish catches in the Timbuktu and Gao regions between April and June will improve the incomes of fishing households, particularly with the reopening of major roads between these areas and Niger bringing in buyers from that country and southern Mali.
  • Agropastoral populations will require additional humanitarian assistance in July to prevent a “Crisis” (IPC Phase 3) and enable poor households to properly engage in farming activities.
Most likely food security outcomes

Even with improvements in trade, poor households who are highly dependent on local markets will have difficulty meeting their food needs during this period. Conditions will further deteriorate with the seasonal rise in food prices, which are already approximately 20 to 30 percent above-average, as households face a 15 to 25 percent shortfall in income in the current economic climate affording fewer than usual income-earning opportunities. February’s food consumption scores of over 70 percent indicative of poor and borderline food intake (WFP 2013) confirm IPC Phase 2 Stress level food insecurity. In-kind and cash remittances from migrant workers, the pick-up in farming activities in April-May providing new sources of income, and income from sales of market garden crops and fish and fish products will hold household food insecurity levels in the IPC Phase 2 Stress through the end of June. The usual harvests of off-season wheat, maize, tubers, and pulses in May-June in lake areas, particularly in Timbuktu, will improve household food availability.

With the lean season getting off to an earlier than usual start, by July, poor households will resort to borrowing slightly larger than usual amounts from relatives and traders, though their previous payment record may impact credibility with prospective lenders. Poor households will be forced to fall back on less expensive foods and to scale back the size of their meals between July and September. Increased reliance on in-kind wage payments will be a common practice to help ease hardships during the long lean season. Though limited by funding gaps and the unstable security conditions in this area, the implementation of humanitarian assistance programs will prevent households from resorting to extremely negative coping strategies. Without food assistance, these populations will be facing IPC Phase 3 Crisis levels of food insecurity.

Events that Could Change the Outlook

Geographic area

Possible events

Impacts on food security conditions

Livelihood zones 3 and 6

Sizeable assistance in the form of farm inputs for irrigated rice-farming schemes (fertilizer, seeds, and fuel) in April-May

A sizeable volume of assistance in the form of high-quality rice seeds, fertilizer, and fuel will help jump-start irrigated rice-farming schemes in the river valley area of Timbuktu and Gao, helping to ensure a certain level of output to guarantee good food security conditions in these areas. This will help preserve employment opportunities for poor households in these areas.

Northern Mali                (livelihood zones 1, 2, and 3), the Niger River Delta (livelihood zone 6), and the Sahelian Belt (zone 8)

Severe damage to pastureland from brush fires in February–March

Severe damage from brush fires in April–May will curtail pasture availability, limiting animal (milk and dairy) production. The resulting pasture crisis could mean massive losses of livestock, affecting the income of pastoral and livestock-oriented agropastoral households.

Nationwide

Institutional stock-building by the government and humanitarian organizations between April and June

The high demand created by government procurements for the rebuilding of national food security reserves will put added pressure on markets by further accentuating the normal upward trend in prices throughout the outlook period. This will sustain and possibly drive up what are already above-average prices, curtailing the market access of poor households.

Nationwide

Nationwide hike in oil prices

 

Rising oil prices will increase transportation costs and drive food prices 20 to 30 percent above-average, curtailing household food access.  

Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and northern Mopti regions

Restoration of stability in the north and the securing of transportation corridors, facilitating trade with the rest of the country and with neighboring countries

 

The restoration of stability in northern Mali will further improve essential trade flows between the north and trading partners in other parts of the country and in neighboring countries, encouraging displaced populations to return to their homes and sustaining the economic recovery jump-started by the ongoing military operations. This will improve delivery of assistance required by a large population, particularly with the new growing season about to begin, when the optimization of farming activities is a guarantee of food security in these areas.

Nationwide

Locust outbreak in July-August

Last year’s lack of treatment and proper monitoring in areas prone to locust infestations poses a risk of locust outbreaks for this year. Such outbreaks would cause severe damage to both northern and southern pasturelands, affecting animal production. Failure to provide proper treatment to limit the magnitude of a potential locust infestation would endanger harvests.

Nationwide

Poor rainfall conditions and low flooding levels

A delay in the start of the rainy season will prolong the lean season in pastoral areas, engendering larger than usual losses further undermining the situation of pastoralists and agropastoralists. Late, short, and/or poorly distributed rainfall could endanger future harvests. Resulting large shortfalls in crop and animal production will undermine the nationwide food security situation.

Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and northern Mopti regions

Strengthening of humanitarian assistance efforts in these areas

Strengthening of humanitarian food and nonfood assistance programs during the outlook period will help sustain and possibly improve the livelihoods of poor populations in conflict areas.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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