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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Ménaka due to persistent insecurity and population displacement

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mali
  • February - September 2024
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Ménaka due to persistent insecurity and population displacement

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern: Ménaka region: livelihood zone ML01 (Nomadism and trans-Saharan trade), ML02 (Northern livestock farming), and ML04 (Livestock, millet, and remittances in the center of the country) (Figure 4)
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Since December, continuing attacks by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in the Ménaka region, combined with the imposition of blockades by the armed groups of the Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), have led to significant population displacements and accentuated the isolation of the region. According to the December 2023 population movement report, more than 65 percent of the population of Ménaka is displaced and concentrated around the towns of Andéramboukane and Ménaka. Also, humanitarian access is poor and subject to disruption by security threats along the main road, which significantly disrupts poor households' access to a critical food source. Given the extensive looting of livestock, very high food prices, and limited opportunities for income-generating activities, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely throughout the period from February to September, with a small proportion of the population in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the inaccessible areas of Ménaka during the lean season.
    • In the southern parts of Gao and Mopti, where there is also a high level of insecurity, a likely deterioration in food insecurity from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected from May onward. Despite facing significant challenges, such as a sharp decline in livelihoods and increasing food prices, these areas exhibit better access to markets and humanitarian assistance, resulting in relatively lower population displacement compared to Ménaka. This facilitates a certain level of activity, albeit lower than the average.
    • Despite average food supplies at a national level, thanks to cereal production and overall average imports, staple food prices remain above average. In the center and north of the country, disruptions in trade flows and occasional blockades on the main roads reduce food supplies and lead to a more pronounced rise in average prices, which limits poor households' access to food.
    • Although overall livestock conditions are favorable in the country, major disruptions to herd transhumance movements in the Ménaka, Gao, and Kidal regions will lead to an early deterioration in livestock conditions (pastures and watering points) in accessible areas. Feed availability for livestock in these hosting areas will reduce animal production and the incomes of breeders, and may potentially lead to higher-than-average livestock mortality rates.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Security situation: The takeover by the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) of the former United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) bases in the north of the country, the mandate of which officially ended on December 11, 2023, has considerably increased tensions with the armed groups of the Permanent Strategic Framework for Peace, Security and Development (Cadre Stratégique Permanent pour la paix, la sécurité et le développement – CSP). The intensification of military operations in the area, particularly in the Kidal region, continues to stoke tensions, particularly along the border strip with Algeria, which leads to disruptions in trade flows.

    In 2023, attacks by the Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) on civilians and national and international security forces in the Mopti, Ségou, and Koulikoro regions continued at higher levels compared to the same period in 2022. Similarly, attacks by IS Sahel against civilians, security forces, and pro-government armed groups continued at a high frequency and intensity in the Ménaka region. Looting of goods and equipment, destruction of roads and telecommunications infrastructure, atrocities committed against civilians, killings, and blockades of the main supply routes are greatly disrupting economic activities in the area and displacing people to more secure locations. 

    Population movement: Persistent security incidents and persecution during attacks by armed groups continue to generate atypical population movements, particularly in the Liptako Gourma area and in the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions. In December 2023, there were 354,739 displaced people in the country, with displacement concentrated in the regions of Mopti (25.1 percent of the country's displaced), Ménaka (16.3 percent), Timbuktu (12.3 percent), Bandiagara (11.9 percent), and Gao (10.2 percent). However, the scale of displacement is highest in the Ménaka and Kidal regions, where the proportion of displaced people is 67.4 percent and 30.3 percent of the total population, respectively. These displaced people, mainly living in host households and camps, are experiencing moderate to heavy losses of their livelihoods (livestock, labor, harvests/gathering, etc.) and a reduction or even cessation of their economic activities. 

    Agropastoral production: Overall cereal production in 2023 is slightly down by 1 percent compared to last year and by 4 percent compared to average, according to the Cellule de Planification et des Statistiques/Secteur du Développement Rural (CPS/SDR), which is favorable to average food availability in the country. However, localized drops in production have been observed in the conflict-affected central and northern zones, reducing food availability to below-average levels both at the household level and on the markets. The development of off-season crops (market gardening, flood recession crops, irrigated rice, etc.) is average in the irrigated perimeter zones along the Niger River and at flood recession lakes and ponds across the country, mainly in the Ségou, Mopti, Timbuktu, and Kayes regions. The current average off-season harvests offer average income and food opportunities for farming households in most of Mali. However, the high price of agricultural inputs and insecurity in the central and northern zones have led to a moderate to significant drop in agricultural production in certain areas of Mopti, Gao, and Ménaka.

    Livestock conditions are generally average across the country and are favorable to a normal pastoral lean season in most pastoral and agropastoral areas from April to June. However, in pastoral areas in the north of the country, notably in the border strip with Burkina and Niger, insecurity is impeding access to pasture for herds, leading to atypical concentrations of herds in pastures and near watering holes in accessible areas. This has led to early degradation of pastures in accessible zones, leading to reduced livestock feed and animal production (milk, cheese and butter) in these areas to below-average levels. In addition, ongoing thefts and kidnapping of livestock in insecure areas is reducing livestock numbers, production, and pastoral incomes, lowering the purchasing power of herding households, particularly in the pastoral areas of the Gao and Ménaka regions.

    According to available information, the livestock health situation is relatively stable in the country, although there are suspicions of symptomatic anthrax in the Kidal region. The usual livestock vaccination campaign against epizootic diseases is continuing normally throughout the country, with the support of certain technical partners.

    Fishing production: Fish catches are improving seasonally, thanks to lower river levels. However, insecurity in the Niger Delta and the Niger River valley, particularly in Timbuktu and Gao, restricts access to vital fishing areas, thereby diminishing the income derived from this crucial activity. Consequently, the purchasing power of fishing households in these areas is adversely affected. The usual departure of fishing households to reservoir areas in the Sikasso and Kayes regions continues. 

    Market operations and prices: Market operations are continuing normally throughout the country, except in the central and northern regions where moderate to major disruptions—particularly in blockaded areas—are reducing market supplies. The seasonal increase in supply is observed thanks to the availability of harvests. Market supplies remain satisfactory on the whole, with the exception of the insecure areas of Liptako-Gourma and the north of the Ségou region, where security disruptions have led to malfunctions that have resulted in significant drops or even interruptions in flows (Figure 1). The intermittent blockade imposed by armed groups on the main supply routes to the Timbuktu, Gao, Ménaka, and Kidal regions and the effects of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions on Niger, which will persist for several months after their suspension, are contributing to the reduction in trade flows to these markets. Bypass strategies, the preference for river transport, which is becoming increasingly difficult as the floodwaters recede, and longer-than-usual journey times are leading to a shortage of stocks and lower-than-normal availability on the markets, causing many traders to reduce or even stop their activities.

    Figure 1

    Operation of markets in the Liptako Gourma area, January 2024
    Carte de fonctionement des marches du Liptako Gourma

    Source: FEWS NET

    Overall, staple food prices remain above the five-year average on the markets monitored, mainly due to higher production costs linked to high inflation on agricultural inputs, higher transportation costs, higher demand linked to the localized drop in production in Mali and neighboring countries, and lower-than-average supplies. With the exception of Sikasso and Koulikoro, where prices remain similar, prices of basic cereals have risen 79 percent compared to the average in Ménaka, 31 percent in Gao, 25 percent in Kayes, 22 percent in Timbuktu, 19 percent in Ségou, 20 percent in Kidal, and 8 percent in Mopti. These price levels reduce poor households' adequate access to food. According to REACH, in areas subject to intermittent blockades by armed groups, prices for basic necessities such as sugar, oil, wheat flour, powdered milk, and fuel have risen by 70 to 100 percent over the past three months in Timbuktu. 

    The supply of livestock has increased as usual, thanks to the return of transhumance herds and the need to replenish stocks as breeders take advantage of improved terms of trade. Supply remains below average in insecure areas, where market dysfunctions lead livestock farmers to turn to safer markets in the south of the country or even in neighboring coastal countries. The price of goats, the animal most commonly sold by poor households to access food, is stable or rising in the markets monitored, except in Ménaka, where it is down 19 percent. Although favorable to average pastoral incomes overall, this does not benefit the poor who have sold or lost all their livestock due to the persisting security crisis. The terms of trade between goats and cereals remain below the five-year average due to the high level of cereal prices, despite their seasonal improvement compared to last month. Compared to last year and to the five-year average, the terms of trade for goats and millet in monitored pastoral markets are down, reducing access to food for livestock-raising households, given the high cereal prices due to the drop in supply linked to market access difficulties (Figure 2).

    Figure 2

    Terms of trade for goats/millet in January 2023 in the main markets of insecure areases zones en insécurité
    Termes d'échange chèvre/céréales Janvier 2024 (Kg/Tête)

    Source: FEWS NET

    Humanitarian aid and livelihood support: Humanitarian support in the form of food and non-food items from the government and its various partners is continuing, mainly for poor households and displaced persons as part of the rapid response mechanism (RRM), particularly in the Gao and Ménaka areas. The rest of the population is not currently receiving food aid, due to the usual reduction in food aid during the post-harvest period. At the same time, livelihood support through the distribution of livestock feed, small equipment, and agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers) is being provided by the government and its partners. However, the resurgence of security incidents is restricting movements and limiting access to humanitarian assistance for populations in need in certain insecure areas of the Gao and Ménaka regions.

    Nutritional situation: The nutritional situation throughout the country is seasonally improving due to the availability of own agricultural produce and animal products (milk, butter, cheese), together with the seasonal drop in market prices. However, in insecure areas in the center and north of the country, malnutrition rates are increasing compared to the same period in an average year due to poor households' lack of access to food, combined with dysfunctional social and health structures that have impacted the provision of essential health and nutrition services such as treatment and prevention of malnutrition, vitamin A supplementation, deworming, and vaccination. The July/August 2023 SMART survey indicates a prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) of 11.1 percent among children aged 6 to 59, including 2.1 percent for severe acute malnutrition, compared with 10.8 percent in 2022. This prevalence is considered high according to the WHO classification scale, particularly in the Gao (15.3 percent) and Ménaka (19.4 percent) regions, where the situation is critical, indicating a difficult food situation for households in these areas, in addition to difficulties in accessing social and health services. Screening and management of cases of malnutrition are continuing at operational health facilities but to a much lesser extent in insecure areas where difficulties in accessing social health services persist.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The majority of households in agricultural areas are able to access food without great difficulty due to average availability of cereals from harvests and in markets, in addition to harvests of off-season market garden crops, the seasonal fall in prices of basic cereals, improved terms of trade between livestock and cereals, proceeds from payment in kind during harvest work, and donations or "Zakat" for the poor. In pastoral areas, the average availability of animal products (milk, butter, cheese), thanks to average breeding conditions, is improving food and income from the sale of these products. As a result, the majority of households are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. 

    In the central and northern regions of the country, huge disruptions to the movement of people and goods and the blockade imposed by armed groups on the main road axes in the Timbuktu, Ménaka, Gao, and Kidal regions continue to reduce income from economic activities, the functioning of markets, and physical access to households to sell livestock and buy supplies. The sharp rise in food prices, marked deterioration in livelihoods, difficulties accessing harvesting areas, and continuing displacement of populations are limiting household access to food. Poor households in these areas are experiencing an early depletion of stocks linked to the decline in agropastoral production and a significant deterioration in livelihoods. As a result, households in the south of Gao are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or even Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and are resorting to atypical migration, borrowing in kind or in cash, reducing non-food expenditure, and preferring the cheapest foods. The same applies to poor households in the northern regions of Ségou, Koulikoro, and Kayes, where stocks have been depleted early, increasing dependence on the market more than in a normal year.

    In the Ménaka region, where villages are increasingly being abandoned as a result of pressure from armed groups, and where 67.4 percent of the population is displaced, poor households are experiencing enormous difficulties in accessing food, resulting in an unusual deterioration in their food consumption due to major disruption or even stoppage of economic activities in inaccessible areas, a total erosion of the livelihood protection basket, and a large survival deficit. The use of emergency crisis coping strategies by more than 70 percent of households, according to the January 2024 DIEM report, and the difficulties of humanitarian access, are indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Titre : Calendrier saisonnier Mali
Description : Saison des pluies : mi-mai à octobre. Préparation des sols : avril à juin.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions 

    The most likely scenario from February to September 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Security situation: Security incidents will continue in the Kidal region with the return of the FAMa to the region and the organization of a joint fight against armed groups as part of the new Alliance of Sahel States (AES/Alliance des États du Sahel) comprising Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. From January onward, the number of incidents will follow the seasonal upward trend to a level similar to or slightly higher than that of 2023, with an increase in population displacements and a continued blockade around certain areas of the Ménaka, Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao regions due to the intensification of military offensives; this will lead to reduced supply flows and price increases that will limit poor households' access to food. As for the conflicts in the center of the country, violence is likely to remain at its current level, close to that of 2023, owing to the active continuation of military offensives in the area and also to ongoing community negotiations.
    • RainfallIRI and NMME consensus forecasts for December 2023 indicate a high probability of average to above-average cumulative rainfall in Mali, particularly in certain areas in the west of the country and from the southeast to the border strip with Burkina Faso, where above-average rainfall is also expected. The 2024 rainy season will start on time in May in southern Mali, following the example of some Sahelian countries whose southern part extends into the Sudanian zone. It will then gradually spread northward as the Inter-Tropical Front (ITF) rises, finally settling in the northernmost part of the Sahelian zone at the beginning of July. However, the right spatiotemporal distribution is still necessary for a positive impact on agropastoral production.
    • River flooding: Low rainfall in 2023 and runoff levels below the interannual average on the main rivers are not conducive to average levels overall at reservoirs and dams until June 2024. According to weather forecasts, normal to above-average cumulative rainfall is expected in 2024, leading to favorable to average flows on the various rivers serving the Niger and Senegal river basins from June to September 2024.
    • Off-season crops: Off-season crops are progressing normally, thanks to average to below-average water availability in reservoirs and rivers. In addition to insecurity, low water availability due to low flooding in 2023 (Office du Niger Directorate) and high prices for agricultural inputs, particularly fertilizers, have reduced planted areas in the north of the Office du Niger and in the Mopti and Gao river valleys. This will reduce the expected harvests in May/June to below average levels. For market garden crops, average harvests will improve food supplies and generate average incomes for farming households.
    • Seasonal agricultural production: Average availability of green harvests of cereals and legumes is expected in the country in September 2024 due to favorable seasonal weather forecasts, the continuation of the national program to subsidize agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers) at 50 percent of the market price for certain cereals and cotton, and support for agricultural inputs, particularly in the northern regions by technical partners as part of resilience-building. Due to insecurity, which is reducing arable land in insecure areas in the center and north of the country, the low level of filling of flood-recession lakes and ponds will reduce agricultural production in the areas concerned. 
    • Livestock production/movement: Thanks to the generally average to above-average livestock conditions in the country, livestock production (milk, butter, meat, etc.) is expected to be generally average across the country but below average in the insecure zones, which will experience difficulties due to the early deterioration of pastures in areas where herds are unusually concentrated. The current seasonal drop in milk production will continue until June, when milk production will pick up again thanks to the restoration of farming conditions following the onset of the rains. Transhumant herds will begin to move back to their wintering areas in June, according to the usual schedule, except in the insecure areas of the north and Liptako-Gourma, where disruptions to herd movements will persist. 
    • Fishing: The seasonal increase in fish catches due to lower river levels will continue until March/April, when collective fishing takes place across the country. Catch prospects will be below average overall, due to low water levels in rivers, which have not been conducive to adequate fish reproduction, as well as difficulties in accessing certain fishing zones due to insecurity, particularly in the inland Niger Delta and the valley of the Timbuktu and Gao rivers, which are major fishing areas. 
    • Agricultural and non-agricultural labor: Typical non-agricultural labor activities (construction, brick-making, wood gathering, etc.) and small-scale trade will take place from February to May, particularly in the south of the country. Activities linked to the agricultural campaign, such as clearing fields and transporting manure from April to June, and ploughing, sowing, and maintaining crops from June to September, will proceed as usual in the country's agricultural zones. However, in the central and northern regions of the country, and particularly in Ménaka and the southern part of Gao, where insecurity persists with huge population displacements, job opportunities will be lower than average. Income from labor will be average overall, except in insecure areas, where it will be below average. 
    • Migration: Typical migration of able-bodied people to the country's urban centers, gold-mining sites, and neighboring countries will continue until March/April, increasing compared to average in areas of declining agricultural production and in insecure zones in the center and north of the country, where economic activities, including agricultural production, are severely disrupted. Income sent or brought in by the able-bodied will be close to average due to the less favorable economic climate in the host areas (fewer opportunities, increased demand, etc.). 
    • Market food supplies: Market supplies will remain sufficient overall until September 2024, except in insecure areas where security incidents or blockades imposed by armed groups will disrupt the regular flow and operation of markets, particularly in the Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal, and Ménaka regions. From April onwards, a seasonal drop in cereal supplies will be observed, which will be more pronounced in the Gao and Timbuktu regions due to the receding of the river, which is currently the main supply route for these markets. For livestock, the increase in supply to meet the needs of pastoralists will continue until June, when it will decrease seasonally due to the departure of transhumant herds. Offers will remain below average in insecure areas where markets are dysfunctional. 
    • Cereal prices: Prices are expected to be above the five-year average in all markets as a result of the increased cost of agricultural production due to the high prices for agricultural inputs and transportation costs, the low level of carryover stocks, and the expected increase in demand for the replenishment of merchant and institutional stocks, as well as stocks from neighboring countries (Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania), despite the extension of the export ban. The above-average five-year trend in cereal prices is likely to continue from February to September 2024 on the main reference markets, as in Gao (Figure 3). The increase will be much more marked in northern areas, where supplies will be more limited due to disruptions in the supply circuit.
    • Livestock prices: Prices are expected to continue to be higher than average until April/May due to favorable breeding conditions and market dysfunctions in pastoral areas that are reducing supply, as well as the rise in demand during Ramadan in March/April and Tabaski in June. Despite the seasonal drop in prices from April onward, prices will remain similar to or above average. In the insecure zones of the center and north, persistent market dysfunction will keep livestock prices below average outside accessible markets.
    • Replenishment of institutional stocks: The government has indicated that they plan to purchase about 20,000 tons of millet and sorghum to replenish the national reserves around April. In addition to this purchase by the Office of Agricultural Products of Mali (Office des Produits Agricoles du Mali – OPAM), purchases by the WFP and other humanitarian agencies will put pressure on markets during the 2024 consumption year. 
    • Political situation: The government's postponement of the elections scheduled for 2024 on the grounds of insecurity has led to an outcry from political parties and certain associations. These increasingly intense reactions will disrupt social calm and the already precarious economic environment. In addition, the reduction in the government's ability to support subsidies on staple products and meet social demands will further increase households' food insecurity, particularly in insecure areas where economic activities are severely disrupted. However, the government's initiatives to coordinate with the nation's forces (political parties, civil society) will contribute to a more peaceful political environment. Furthermore, it is likely that the negative consequences for the national economy of Mali's withdrawal from ECOWAS will be felt after September due to the withdrawal mechanism, which, in accordance with ECOWAS legal provisions, will not be implemented until January 2025.
    • Humanitarian assistance: From June to September 2024, the national response plan will provide monthly food aid to more than 1,372,000 beneficiaries throughout the country, particularly in the northern regions and the Liptako Gourma area. This assistance plant cover between 30 and 50 percent of recipients’ caloric needs, mainly in the form of vouchers and cash but also in the form of in-kind assistance in some areas.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Households are expected to have moderate access to food due to the overall average cereal production, seasonal improvement in livestock-to-cereal terms of trade, and near-average incomes derived from typical agricultural and non-agricultural labor activities. As a result, the current Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity outcomes are expected to continue until September 2024 for the majority of households in the country. However, in the insecure areas of the Ménaka, Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, and Mopti regions, and in parts of the northern regions of Kayes, Koulikoro, and Ségou, which have seen a drop in agricultural production, poor households are still finding it difficult to adequately meet their food and non-food needs due to the early exhaustion of their stocks in April/May instead of June/July and their low purchasing power. Households in these areas are expected to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until May 2024 due to access to food stocks from their meager production, in-kind payments for harvest work, and local solidarity. From May 2024 onward, outcomes will likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the expected rise in prices of basic food commodities and households’ increased reliance on negative coping strategies. In Ménaka, where around 67 percent of the population is displaced, ongoing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will continue until May 2024 due to a total erosion of the livelihood protection basket and a large survival deficit for poor households according to FEWS NET's HEA outcome analysis, difficult humanitarian access, and a sharp deterioration in food consumption.

    Between June and September, poor households with severely degraded livelihoods will experience a significant deterioration in their food consumption between June and September in insecure areas of the north and center, particularly in the south of the Gao, Timbuktu, and Mopti regions, due to difficulties in accessing food linked to high prices in an environment of overall income decline. These poor households are expected to resort to reducing their non-food and food expenditures, reducing the quantity and quality of meals, taking out loans, and relying on local solidarity, facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity outcomes from June to September 2024, coinciding with the lean season, which is expected to start early in April/May. In the Ménaka region, food consumption will deteriorate atypically due to above-average staple food prices of over 70 percent and a 55 percent drop in incomes and terms of trade for livestock and cereals. As a coping strategy, 36.2 percent of these households have resorted to begging, while households that still own livestock have resorted to the sale of their last female animals. Given their lack of access to the usual sources of food and income and to humanitarian assistance due to very limited access to the area, these households will consequently face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes between February and September 2024. Although the national response plan prioritizes these areas, coverage will not be sufficient to induce a phase change in beneficiary areas due to the difficulties of humanitarian access and logistics, particularly in the Kidal, Ménaka, and Gao regions, and the difficulties of mobilizing funds for humanitarian actors.

    The nutritional situation will experience its usual seasonal deterioration overall, due to the seasonal deterioration in food consumption caused by the early exhaustion of household stocks linked to the lean season (June to September), poor food, hygiene, and sanitation practices, and the high prevalence of malaria and water-borne diseases linked to weather conditions. This deterioration will be more marked than average in the insecure areas of the center and north where, in addition to food access difficulties, poor access to basic social services and medical care will keep the prevalence of acute malnutrition at high levels

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes

    Timbuktu, 

    Kidal, Ménaka, and Gao regions 

    Exacerbation of insecurity and tightening of the blockade on the main roads. An intensification of acts of insecurity and the continuing blockade by armed groups will significantly reduce the supply of foodstuffs to markets from the south of the country and imports from Mauritania and Algeria. Any significant drop in food supply, or even instances of food shortages or unusual population movements, will cause huge disruptions to economic activities, with a significant drop in income, decreasing access to food for poor households. As a result, the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or even Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will increase in these areas. As the number of displaced persons in Kidal increases and trade flows are disrupted, increased insecurity will lead to a deterioration of the food situation in the zone to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 
    Northern Mali (ML02, 
    ML03, ML04), Niger Delta (ML06), and Sahel belt (ML13)
    Extensive bush fire damage in pastures from December to May. Bush fires on pastures accessible from December to May in the northern pastoral zones of the country will lead to early degradation of pastures, exacerbating the difficulties of feeding livestock in these areas, where herd movements are disturbed. The resulting drop in pastoral production and income, and even atypical cases of mortality, will worsen the food situation of agropastoral households, increasing the number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    Ménaka, Gao and Kidal regionsSubstantial humanitarian support in the form of food and non-food items for poor households in the region. Intensified support covering at least 20 percent of needs for the majority of poor households affected by the security crisis and unusual displacements will improve their access to food and reduce their use of negative coping strategies. As a result, there will be a significant reduction in the number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

    Areas of Concern: Ménaka region: livelihood zone ML01 (Nomadism and trans-Saharan trade), ML02 (Northern livestock farming), and ML04 (Livestock, millet, and remittances in the center of the country) (Figure 4)

    Figure 3

    Map of livelihood zone 2 and 4 in the Ménaka region
    Carte de la zone de moyens d’existence 2 et 4 dans la région de Ménaka

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Security situation/population movement: Attacks by IS Sahel against civilians, security forces, and pro-government armed groups continued at high frequency and intensity in the vicinity of the Ansongo-Ménaka nature reserve and in the Andéramboukane cercle, as IS Sahel continued its offensive operations to consolidate its presence in the region. Insecurity along the roads has restricted livestock movements and disrupted humanitarian aid, particularly in the inaccessible areas of Andéramboukane, Inékar, Ménaka, Anchawadji, and Tessit.

    The volatile security situation, roadside robberies, and repression of civilians by armed groups continue to disrupt the movement of people and goods, as well as the regular functioning of markets, particularly in border areas with neighboring countries (Niger, Algeria), where trade flows are severely curtailed by the blockade imposed by armed groups and the caution of transporters who have halted traffic. 

    Unusual population displacements and difficulties in humanitarian access continue. According to the report on population movements, 14,192 households for 57,931 internally displaced people (IDPs), or around 67.4 percent of the region's population, were registered in December 2023, mainly in the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, thanks to the calmer security situation and easier access to humanitarian assistance and basic social services. 

    Livelihood trends: Disruptions to the movement of people and goods as a result of insecurity continue to limit access to the usual sources of income and food for the region's poor households, particularly displaced households and those in inaccessible areas where economic activities have ground to a halt. Thus, nearly 92.7 percent of households use loans in kind or solidarity to access food, according to the FAO DIEM of January 2024.

    Pastoral incomes are down sharply on the five-year average in the region due to fewer opportunities to sell livestock because of low herd numbers and the absence of livestock, especially in the case of poor households who have sold or lost everything because of the continuing insecurity. According to the January 2024 DIEM, 25.4 percent of households have sold their last females, indicating a significant erosion of livelihoods for predominantly pastoralist households. Self-employment activities (logging, charcoal, handicrafts) have also decreased due to the decline in market opportunities resulting from movement difficulties and unusual displacement of populations. The sale of productive assets for those who still have them, unusual migration, and the reduction of non-food expenditures, particularly for health, continue. According to the same survey, 36.2 percent of households have resorted to begging, pointing to a sharp deterioration in the livelihoods of households in the region, which is more marked in inaccessible areas where economic activities have almost ground to a halt.

    Agropastoral production: The market gardening campaign around ponds and perennial water points is underway with the support of certain humanitarian partners, but production prospects are well below average due to the low availability of water and the unusual displacement of populations. The current poor harvests are improving food consumption and income from the sale of market garden produce for the few farming households, particularly in the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane. Stocks of wild fonio and cram-cram are well below average due to security restrictions on access to the large harvesting plains in the communes of Inékar, Andéramboukane, and Ménaka. 

    The pastures (herbaceous and woody) are generally average in the area and are conducive to satisfactory livestock feeding. Breeding conditions are below average due to the low level of filling of water points compared with that of a normal year, as a result of the rainfall deficit recorded during the past winter season. However, the enormous disruption to herd movements caused by insecurity is limiting access to certain pastures, leading to unusual concentrations of herds in accessible areas, with a risk of early pasture degradation in the reception areas on the border with Kidal and toward the west of the region. The resulting difficulties in feeding livestock will reduce livestock production and the market value of animals, which is already below average due to the significant reduction in livestock numbers due to excessive sales, thefts and kidnappings, and disruption of the transhumance circuit. 

    Markets: The reduction in market food supplies continues and is exacerbated by the blockade imposed by armed groups on the main roads linking the region to its usual sources of supply from Gao, Ansongo, Algeria, and also Niger, particularly for millet, rice, pasta, wheat flour, milk, and vegetable oil. Military escorts for humanitarian and merchant convoys are marginally improving the level of market supply. The availability of both local and imported foodstuffs is well below average, with occasional shortages in certain domestic markets in the Inékar and Tidermène cercles, helping to keep market prices high. In the Ménaka market, the price of millet is 79 percent higher than the five-year average, which significantly reduces households' ability to access this staple cereal. The same applies to imported foodstuffs, which are 76 percent more expensive than average for oil, 71.4 percent more expensive than average for wheat flour, 60 percent more expensive than average for semolina, and 55.6 percent more expensive than average for pasta.

    In livestock markets, the supply of livestock is down sharply due to insecurity impacting access to and functioning of markets. The price of goats, the animal most commonly sold by poor households, is down by 18.9 percent due to the lack of buyers and the difficulties of feeding livestock, which reduces the income of pastoral households, especially for poor households with very low numbers of animals. Households in inaccessible areas who no longer have access to markets are selling off their livestock to intermediaries. In addition, due to the very high price of cereals and the decreased price of livestock, the goat-to-millet terms of trade have steeply decreased compared with the five-year average of 55 percent in Ménaka, significantly reducing pastoralist households’ access to markets. 

    Humanitarian aid: Food and non-food humanitarian support from the government and various partners is continuing for poor households, particularly displaced households (3,190 households or around 20,000 people in the region), and as part of the Rapid Relief Mechanism (RRM). These humanitarian aid operations, mainly concentrated in the city of Ménaka, face difficulties in access to the various areas of the region, as well as delays in the implementation of the various operations, particularly in inaccessible areas where beneficiaries are forced to travel to the city of Ménaka to access their rations. Despite these strategies, some localities in Andéramboukane, Inékar, and Tidermène remain inaccessible to humanitarian organizations. 

    Assumptions 

    In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Security situation/population movement: Attacks by the Islamic State in the Sahel against civilian populations are expected to be stable until September 2024, and higher than the levels observed in 2023 due to the intensification of military offensives by FAMa and their coalition, notably within the framework of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). IS activity in the Sahel is likely to continue to generate population displacements, reducing access to basic social services, particularly in the Ménaka region and in the southern part of the Ansongo and Gao cercles (Gao region), where much of the area remains inaccessible. Fighting between JNIM and IS Sahel is likely to remain at or below historic levels until September 2024, with both groups continuing to observe a de facto ceasefire, although localized and sporadic clashes are expected to continue. The resulting security incidents, persecution of civilians, looting of property, robberies, and kidnappings will continue to lead to unusual movements of people and disruption of transhumance in the region. 
    • Market supplies and cereal prices: The region's usual supply channels will continue to be disrupted by attacks and intermittent blockades on the main roads, which will significantly reduce food supplies compared with an average year at the main market in Ménaka, and much more so at secondary markets in the inaccessible areas of Inékar and Andéramboukane. Bypass strategies by market players and military escorts will ensure a certain availability of local and imported foodstuffs at Ménaka's main market. The price of millet will remain well above the five-year average by more than 50 percent at the region's main markets (Ménaka, Andéramboukane, and Inékar), which will reduce poor households' ability to access markets. Due to the expected disruption of trade flows from Kidal in connection with the even less stringent blockade and military presence in this region, prices of foodstuffs imported from Algeria (pasta, milk, flour, vegetable oil, sugar) are expected to continue to be 25 to over 50 percent higher than average. 
    • Livelihood trends: Economic activity in the area will remain well below average due to continuing insecurity and unusual population displacements, while large-scale livestock removals and excessive sales will continue. As a result, household incomes and livelihood sources will significantly decrease, particularly for the poorest, making it difficult for households to meet their food needs. 
    • Humanitarian food assistance: The national response plan drawn up by the government in collaboration with its partners provides for monthly food assistance covering at least 50 percent of the caloric needs of 87 percent of the region's population from June to September 2024, coinciding with the lean season. As part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), humanitarian assistance for displaced persons will continue, mainly in the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, which are the main reception centers. Actions to strengthen resilience through income-generating activities, distribution of small equipment and livestock, and livestock vaccination will be carried out during the same period. However, the difficulties of humanitarian access in the region, outside the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, will continue to limit household access to humanitarian food and non-food assistance. In addition, funding challenges in the face of growing needs will have a negative impact on the capacity of humanitarian actors to respond.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Households are expected to face extreme difficulty accessing food due to the early exhaustion of stocks following the sharp drop in agricultural production (although structurally low), difficulties in household access to foraging areas, and the sharp rise in staple food prices in the area (over 75 percent in Ménaka). In addition, decreased terms of trade between livestock and cereals are leading to an early deterioration in food consumption for poor households, while security disruptions are decreasing income access, reducing the availability of foodstuffs on the main markets, and leading to a deterioration in livelihoods. Outside the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, where humanitarian assistance is present, households are reducing the number of meals from one to two per day, compared with three in normal times, according to key informants. Due to loss of livestock and lack of income, households are unable to access milk and meat for consumption, which is contributing to a consumption deficit that is much higher than in an average year, particularly for displaced households, which represent 67.4 percent of the region's population. To meet their food needs, poor households are resorting to significant reductions in non-food expenditures, as reported by the October 2023 ENSAN survey, which indicates that 61.7 percent of households have reduced health expenditure in favor of food. In addition to relying on borrowing, local solidarity, and humanitarian assistance, 36.2 percent of households are resorting to begging and 25.4 percent to the sale of their last female animals, according to the January 2024 DIEM. As a result, households in this area are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes until May.

    From June to September, which coincides with the longer-than-average lean season, food consumption will deteriorate further due to the exacerbation of access difficulties during this period, linked to the seasonal rise in prices, which will be sharper and much higher than average, and a significant drop in income opportunities. The difficulties of physical access to markets due to weather conditions and insecurity in the area, in addition to the significant drop in purchasing power, will significantly limit households' access to food, leading them to resort more often to emergency crisis coping strategies. Humanitarian assistance from the government and humanitarian partners in the form of food, particularly for displaced households, will help to alleviate the difficulties of access to food in accessible areas around the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, and much less so in inaccessible areas, which still account for at least 20 percent of the population. Thus, ongoing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity will continue until May 2024 due to a total erosion of the livelihood protection basket, with a large survival deficit for poor households, difficult humanitarian access, and a sharp deterioration in food consumption. Due to huge food consumption deficits, emergency coping strategies, and the level of severe acute malnutrition observed, a small proportion of poor households in inaccessible areas of the region will likely be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

    The sharp reduction in the quality and quantity of meals, and difficulties in accessing basic social services, will worsen the already critical nutritional situation according to SMART July/August 2023, which gives a global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence of 19.0 percent, indicating very serious levels (over 15 percent GAM weight for height [WBH]) in the Ménaka region. The situation is much more critical for the displaced, who have a GAM prevalence of 26.9 percent, including 8.2 percent of MAS, according to the SMART rapid report of March 2023. If the inaccessible population maintains food consumption gaps for a prolonged period, this is likely to lead to an increase in cases of severe acute malnutrition and high levels of mortality.

    Other Areas of Concern in the Country 

    In other parts of the country, ongoing conflicts and the resulting unusual population displacements are causing major disruptions to economic activities and trade flows, reducing households' ability to meet their food and non-food needs. In these areas, mainly in the cercles of Koro, Bankass, Bandiagara, Douentza (Mopti region), Ansongo, Bourem, Gao (Gao region), Gourma Rharous, and Timbuktu (Timbuktu region), poor households' access to typical sources of income and food is much reduced compared to an average year. The rise in food prices above the five-year average and the dysfunctional markets that reduce food supplies, particularly in the Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao areas due to the blockade imposed by armed groups, continue to limit households' adequate access to food. Poor households in these areas that are able to meet their food needs and are struggling to rebuild their livelihoods will continue to adopt atypical strategies of labor intensification, migration, reduced non-food expenditure, and borrowing in kind and in cash to access food. Food consumption will continue to deteriorate seasonally, but more sharply for the poorest than in an average year. 

    Persistent security incidents and intermittent blockades, despite FAMa escort and surveillance operations, will continue to disrupt regular market supplies in the Timbuktu, Gao, Ménaka, and Kidal regions, which are heavily dependent on markets and imports for their food needs. The continuation of the high price trend following these disruptions will contribute to a deterioration in the food situation of poor households in these areas, particularly the poorest and the displaced, who are experiencing a total or partial loss of their livelihoods. As a result, the current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the lean season from May to September 2024. The urban poor, who are experiencing a drop in purchasing power due to falling incomes linked to the difficult economic situation, decreased job opportunities, and high inflation in the country, are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes or worse.


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Mali Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Ménaka due to persistent insecurity and population displacement, 2024.

    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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