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Limited household access to food in some areas due to conflict

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mali
  • February 2019
Limited household access to food in some areas due to conflict

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Agricultural production was 34 percent above average and is supporting generally satisfactory cereal availability in the country, despite pockets of decreased production along the river and in the Seno region in Mopti. As a result, most households in the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between February and September 2019.

    • Average to good livestock conditions indicate a normal lean season from March, with average maintenance of livestock body conditions and average livestock production overall. Average income from livestock sales due to the satisfactory condition of animals and animal products will improve the income of livestock farming households.

    • Households’ access to cereals is generally average, owing to the availability of their own production (although low in some areas), low to average cereal prices, and improved terms of trade for livestock/cereals. However, the decline in overall income (pastoral, non-agricultural) due to security disruption in conflict zones will negatively affect the adequate access of poor households to markets.

    • The early lean season, starting in April/May instead of June due to early stock depletion, and lower incomes due to the negative impacts of insecurity, are leading households to resort to unconventional coping strategies. The resulting Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will continue until September, with a need for humanitarian support from June to September for the most affected areas to avoid a worsening situation in the delta, Seno and Ménaka.


    Current situation

    Agricultural production

    Off-season market gardening and cereal production are progressing normally due to the good availability of water in the usual areas. The production outlook is judged to be average to above-average, due to above-average acreage farmed. The current harvests and rice planting in irrigated zones are providing income and food opportunities for poor households.

    The availability of pasture is generally average in the country despite pockets of deficit, particularly in the inner Niger Delta (Ténenkou, Djenné, Youvarou, Koro and Douentza) and Timbuktu regions (Niafunké, Goundam and Timbuktu). The condition of livestock is generally satisfactory.  The transhumant herds have returned for the crop residues and to the bourgou fields along the river from Mopti to Gao. However, civil insecurity continues to limit the movement of animals in central and northern parts of the country, particularly in the regions of Ségou (Niono, Macina), Mopti (Mema, Farimaké), Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. Dairy production is average to good due to good livestock farming conditions. Animal health is generally stable and the cattle vaccination campaign launched in November continues with the support of some humanitarian partners.

    The production outlook for the fishing season which started in November is average to above-average, in view of the current level of catches which is assessed to be above-average overall. Expected above-average production and incomes will improve the food supplies and purchasing power of fishing households. Fishing households are on the move to the usual fishing sites.

    Supply and flow of cereals to markets

    The supply of cereals to the markets is sufficient everywhere thanks to overall average to good production levels in the country. The usual increase in supply to the markets is increasingly in evidence with the arrival of new harvests on the markets. Overall, it is average to above-average. As for the Kidal market, which is usually supplied from Algeria, flows are average and continue to be affected adversely by the ongoing security disruptions. The seasonal fall in prices is evident and varied from market to market.  In the regional capitals at the end of January, the price of the main cereal consumed is similar to the five-year average in Sikasso, Mopti and Koulikoro (-2 percent), down in Ségou by 4 percent and in Kayes by 32 percent, and up in Timbuktu by 6 percent, in Gao by 9 percent and in Kidal by 17 percent.

    Livestock markets are increasingly buoyant as a result of the return of transhumant herds and the supply needs of livestock farmers during this period of lower cereal prices. Livestock supply is generally average due to satisfactory livestock farming conditions which are not encouraging higher than average sales. Livestock prices are average to above-average in the southern agricultural markets, but similar to or below-average in the Mopti, Gao and Timbuktu regions for large ruminants due to lower demand, which is reducing farming income. The price of goats, which are the animals most commonly sold by poor households, is 4 percent higher than the five-year average in Gao, 11 percent higher in Timbuktu, 12 percent higher in Mopti, 21 percent higher in Nioro and 14 percent lower in Rharous.


    Average to above-average availability of own produce and products from in-kind remuneration for harvest work are allowing the majority of households access to food without major difficulties in the production areas. The terms of trade for goats/millet are similar to slightly above-average in markets in pastoral areas, except in Gao where a decline of 4 percent is observed (Figure 1). The average to slightly above-average fall in prices for the main staple foods and the improved terms of trade for livestock/cereals are supporting average access to food for agropastoral households.

    Food consumption

    Food consumption has improved thanks to the availability of new harvests of cereals and pulses, market garden products and animal products (milk, cheese, meat). According to the September 2018 National Food Security and Nutrition Survey (ENSAN), 20.5 percent of the country had poor or borderline food consumption scores; this is expected to see the usual improvement and to be close to the February average of around 13.5 percent. As for food diversity, it is highest for most households in this period, thanks to improved household access to diversified food. The hunger index is at the average level for the period - 8 percent moderate to severe hunger.

    Population movements

    The usual departures of able workers to the country’s urban centers and neighboring countries in search of additional income are under way as normal. In the central areas, insecurity has contributed to an above-average increase in these movements to more secure areas. Ongoing intercommunity security incidents continue to lead to population displacements, particularly in the regions of Gao, Ménaka, Timbuktu and the border strip with Burkina Faso. As of February 2019, some 120,298 displaced persons had been recorded, of whom 56,452 were in the Mopti region alone, where population arrivals from Burkina Faso were also reported. Returns of refugees continue to be recorded throughout the country. Food and non-food support is provided to displaced persons and returnees by the government and humanitarian partners.

    Security situation

    The security situation continues to be marked by the continuation of security incidents that are negatively affecting the socio-economic environment in the northern and central regions of the country; reducing employment opportunities and incomes relative to the average for poor households. Loss of property and looting associated with these security incidents are damaging livelihoods for households in the areas concerned. The movement challenges associated with these security incidents make it difficult to properly implement humanitarian support for poor households in difficulty, increasing their vulnerability to food insecurity and limiting the rebuilding of livelihoods which are vital to meeting their needs.


    The most likely food security scenario from February through September 2019 is based on the following underlying assumptions regarding the trends in nationwide conditions:

    Agricultural and pastoral production

    Rainfall: According to the latest IRI and NMME climate forecasts in January 2019, seasonal forecasts do not show any major anomalies up until August 2019. Cumulative rainfall in August is expected to be average to above-average. Based on these observations, according to FEWS NET, the rainy season will begin on time, in June in the Sudanian and Sahelian area of the country and in July in the northern areas of the country.

    Water levels: The current high-water level on rivers is higher than last year’s level over the same period and the multiannual average at most stations. Water levels are expected to rise again from June to July 2019 due to the onset of the rains, continuing until September-October. The average to above-average precipitation expected will result in average levels during the 2019 season.

    Off-season crops: Off-season crops are being actively established, especially off-season market garden crops and rice, in the usual areas. The expected output will be above-average due to good water availability in ponds, lakes and rivers, supporting an increase in acreage. The current average to above-average harvests for market garden crops, and those expected for off-season rice in June-July and wheat in April, will improve food availability for farming households.

    Agricultural production: The timely launch of equipment distribution and hydro-agricultural developments, due to the normal onset of rains and continued support through agricultural inputs from the government and partners (seed, fertilizer), means that overall production can be expected to be average to above-average. The increase in acreage, in conjunction with the conditions mentioned above, indicates average to above-average harvests in the country from October 2019. However, the unstable security situation will continue to affect agricultural activities in areas of community conflict, which will lead to localized declines in production, particularly in the north and center of the country.

    Agropastoral lean season: The agricultural lean season will be normal for the majority of the country's population, thanks to average to good food availability and food prices that support average household access to food. It will run as usual from June to September for farmers, due to the usual depletion of stocks and the average seasonal increase in cereal prices. However, it will be one to two months early (April/May) for poor households in the Niger Delta, the river band and some conflict areas in Mopti and Gao, due to the early depletion of their stocks in February instead of March/April and the overall decline in income.

    Pastoral lean season/animal production: The average to above-average availability of pastures and water points throughout the country’s various areas of concentration indicates a normal pastoral lean season from April to June. The usual replenishment of pasture and water points due to onset of the rains in June/July will restart milk production and recovery in the condition of cattle to an average level. However, the recurrence of community conflicts in the border strip with Niger in the Menaka region and with Burkina Faso in the Mopti region will limit adequate access to certain routes; this may affect the proper feeding of herds and adversely affect income and the availability of animal products for pastoral households.

    Livestock movements and animal production: The usual descent of herds for crop residues and to permanent water points from February will continue until March. In June/July, the replenishment of livestock conditions (pasture, water points) by the rains will restart the departure of herds towards areas of usual winter concentration. However, disruptions to the usual movement of herds will be observed in areas of conflict, particularly in the Mopti and Menaka regions. In the Western Sahel, an early descent by Mauritanian livestock is expected due to a sharp decline in the availability of fodder, leading to an early deterioration in livestock conditions in the area.

    Fishing: The catch prospects for the current fishing season, which will continue until March due to the decline in river levels, are average to above-average for the various fisheries in the country. The lifting of protected areas and collective fisheries from March to April will help to raise catch levels for fishing households. The seasonal decline in catches will be observed from July due to water levels rising again. Increasing fish catches during the fishing season will generate higher than average incomes and good availability of fish to meet household food needs.

    Other livelihood activities

    Migration and population movements: The usual departure from September of able workers from agricultural areas to the country’s urban centers and to other countries will continue as normal until March. The gold-panning sites officially opened in October will be the preferred destinations for many migrants in the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso. The average in-kind and cash resources sent from February to May, and/or brought back by migrant workers who will return from May/June, will help to relieve households during the agricultural lean season from June to September. In areas where agricultural production has been poor, the early and widespread departures of migrant workers will contribute to an above-average increase in resources brought back, due to the longer than usual stay and the higher numbers departing.

    Agricultural and non-agricultural labor: Non-agricultural labor and small trade activities between February and May, and those linked to the February to June agricultural season particularly in off-season cereal (rice and wheat) areas, will continue as normal in the country. The average income from such activities will enable poor households that depend on them to improve their purchasing power. However, in areas in the northern regions and in the Mopti Delta where agricultural production has been poor, the decline in employment opportunities (construction, small trades, etc.) due to the security situation will generate lower than average incomes. The onset of the new agricultural season from June/July will increase average employment and food opportunities for poor households in agricultural areas.

    Markets and prices

    Cereal prices: The seasonal downward trend in prices observed in the production areas will continue until the end of February due to the good availability of cereals, which is reducing demand on the markets. Seasonal increase in demand for consumption and replenishment of community and institutional stocks will increase the level of demand, which will be lower than average; this will lead to stability or even a slight increase from April as usual but less marked than in a typical year. The price trend for the main cereal (millet), which is lower or slightly higher than the average on the main markets, will continue until September.

    Livestock prices: The above-average price trend for livestock is expected to continue due to overall average to good livestock conditions in the country and to domestic and external demand, which will remain average overall. The seasonal fall in prices in April due to the usual deterioration in the condition of livestock in the pastoral lean season will be observed until June, particularly in areas of insecurity where access to certain markets is disrupted. Despite the fall in prices, they will remain average to above-average. Despite their improvement, the terms of trade for livestock/cereal will remain close to the average in pastoral areas.

    Other key factors

    Institutional procurement: Institutional procurement, through national security stock replenishment of approximately 15,000 tons of millet/sorghum, and procurement by WFP and other humanitarian agencies in 2019 under the National Response Plan, will generally be lower than average due to the decline in the number of recipients of aid in the country and the tendency to favor cash transfers and resilience building over food distribution.

    Security: The unstable security situation observed is likely to continue in the usual areas, particularly in the country's border strip with Burkina Faso and Niger, where the recurrence of community conflict continues to disrupt the movement of people and goods and cause displacement of people and loss of life. The same applies to the Timbuktu and Gao regions. The implementation of joint patrols involving all warring parties is a calming measure that will help to improve the security situation and minimize its impact on the socio-economic life of the areas concerned.

    Humanitarian action: The national response plan under preparation includes food assistance and resilience building for approximately 450,000 people identified by the harmonized framework workshop. Support in terms of agricultural inputs for the new agricultural year, and support for farmers in the form of animal feed and veterinary care in areas with a pasture deficit, is under way and/or planned. Support for the reintegration of returnees and repatriates will continue throughout the outlook period. These resilience-building programs will limit the use of negative coping strategies by beneficiary populations.

    Nutrition: The usual decline in food availability for poor households from March-April will lead to a change in diet that negatively affects the nutritional status of households. The prevalence of acute malnutrition, usually decreasing in the post-harvest period, will experience its usual deterioration from April, reaching a peak during the lean season in July-August close to the median for the period, which is 10.7 percent [9.8-11.6]. It will be relatively high in areas of poor production and conflict where access difficulties will affect household nutrition. Improving and scaling up programs to detect and manage malnutrition, particularly in areas affected by poor production and conflict, will help to reduce deterioration in the nutritional situation.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Overall average to above-average agricultural production in the country, and near-average to slightly above-average prices of foodstuffs, are giving the majority of households average access to food. Their own produce (although low in some places), in-kind and cash remuneration for harvesting, as well as average income from traditional farm and non-farm labor, are enabling the majority of poor households to access food without too much difficulty. The rate of 20.5 percent having a poor or borderline food consumption score in September 2018 is improving compared to the lean season and is close to the average level. The same applies to the use of unconventional coping strategies, which has decreased due to the good availability of crops and the decline in cereal prices. As a result, most households in the country will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between February and September 2019.

    However, the early depletion of stocks for some households in the Niger Delta, in the Mopti region, flood-prone areas along the river from Timbuktu to Gao, and in areas of community conflict, is leading them to make greater use of markets for food supplies in an unstable socio-economic environment that is not conducive to households achieving average incomes. The atypical use of migration, increased labor and higher-than-average livestock sales will place poor households in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from March to June 2019. The same will apply to flood victims in other regions who face difficulties both in meeting food needs and in restoring their deteriorated livelihoods. The increase in prices during the lean season, reducing market access for poor households, and the intensification of unconventional food-coping strategies, will contribute to a worsening in food consumption and nutritional status. The increase in the number of households with poor or borderline food consumption will be well above the median rate of 15 percent for the period. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for poor households, especially in areas of community conflict in the border strip with Burkina Faso and Niger, from June to September 2019. The national rate of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is classed as Serious in the July 2018 Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey, although stagnating from 2017. This prevalence rate structurally above the Serious threshold will normally deteriorate from March/April as a result of food strategies, deteriorating hygiene conditions and the prevalence of respiratory and parasitic diseases from June to September. 

    Figures Current Food Security Map, February 2019: Most of the country is in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) except that left Gao and Mopti who

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, February 2019

    Source: FEWS NET

    Mali seasonal calendar  Rainy season is from mid-May until October. Land preparation is from April until June. Planting is fr

    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1: graph of the evolution ofmillet to goat terms of trade(kg/animal). Most are close to average or below average

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Terms of trade for millet/goats (kg/animal)

    Source: FEWS NET

    Precipitation forecast map May to July 2019 according to NOAA: average rainfall forecast or more than average

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Precipitation forecast from May to July 2019

    Source: NOAA/NMME

    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.

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