Food Security Outlook

Rainfall deficit in the south affects cropping activities in production zones

July 2013 to December 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

  • In spite of the slight lag in seasonal progress following rainfall deficits in crop-producing areas, forecasts for the 2013/2014 crop year are still predicting average cereal and cotton harvests. Seed assistance furnished by the government and its partners and the high likelihood of continuing rainfall into October according to current weather forecasts are supporting harvest prospects.

  • Security conditions are improving in the Timbuktu and Gao regions, though reports of localized disturbances in Kidal continue. Overall, the re-establishment of stability is encouraging IDPs and refugees to return to their homes with the resumption of economic activity and the delivery of humanitarian assistance programs. As of late June, 14,015 IDPs and refugees had returned to Gao (Agency for Social Development).

  • Market supply is adequate and cereal prices are generally down from last year despite the tightening of supplies with the late start of the rains in crop-producing areas, which made farmers reluctant to unload their crops. As a result, prices have edged upwards by approximately five percent for the first time since January. Millet prices are still five to 20 percent above-average and, thus, unaffordable for most poor pastoralists in the north. 

  • IPC Phase 3 Crisis food insecurity outcomes observed in northern pastoral areas and IPC Phase 2 Stress among agropastoral households improved in July following the scale-up of large-scale humanitarian assistance programs underway since March. However, declining seasonal income and slow economic recovery continue to limit the purchasing power of poor pastoral households emerging from the lean season and among agropastoral households for whom the lean season is just beginning. These populations will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September, when the availability of wild plant foods, milk, and early crops should help reduce food insecurity to Minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) between October and December.

Current Food Security Conditions

Security situation

Security in Timbuktu and Gao regions has improved, but remains volatile in the Kidal region, where sporadic disturbances are reported. The signature of the peace accord by the Malian government and the MNLA and the deployment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) are helping to bolster security conditions. Elections will be held on July 28th throughout the country. However, poor organization could trigger outbreaks of violence, particularly in the Kidal region, due to the delay in the implementation of security measures in that area.

Growing season

According to the Weather Service rainfall forecast, the first rains will get off to a slightly late start across the country, but all crop-producing areas should still get normal to above-normal levels of rainfall. Cumulative rainfall totals as of July 20th were generally normal to above-normal, except in southwestern Kayes and the Bla and Konobougou areas where below-normal rainfall was reported. 

The growing season is underway across the country, with varying degrees of delay in the start-of-season, particularly in certain crop-producing areas in the south. In general, rainfall totals as of July 20th were normal to above-normal, except in southwestern Kayes and Ségou, central Koulikoro, and northern Sikasso reporting below-normal levels of rainfall. The inadequacy and poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall in cropping areas is interfering with the normal progress of planting activities. Failed crops in some southern farming areas have been replanted in an effort to improve performance. As of Juy 20th, the successful planting rate for cereal crops was 71 percent, compared with 82 percent last year, and the success rate for rice crops was 30 percent, versus 50 percent last year, which explains the lag in seedling development compared with the normal crop calendar. It is important that the rains continue into October, as predicted by the Weather Service, to help produce an average harvest

Rainfall in northern areas of the country in mid-July initiated a normal start to the agricultural campaign, as planting of millet crops in interdune areas and land preparation activities for rice crops are underway. The success of the growing season in these areas is threatened by a shortage of funding for large-scale village irrigation schemes in the Timbuktu area where fee collection efforts for the coverage of operating expenses (system maintenance, fuel, etc.) have been largely insufficient. Food security in these areas depends on the output from these irrigation schemes, which is the main source of staple food production, as well as a key seasonal household income source. 

The national crop production target is 7,590,690 metric tons of cereal, which is 26 percent above the five-year average and 14 percent above production figures for 2012-2013. Efforts to achieve this goal are bolstered by the extension of the subsidy program, which will cost the government 35 billion CFA francs, approximately 30 percent less than last year. However the reported reduction in crop planting areas will most likely reduce the likelihood that this production target can be achieved.

Conditions in pastoral areas are improving with the growth of new pasture and the replenishment of animal watering holes in grazing areas in both southern and northern Mali. Transhumant herds have begun their regular trek back to rainy season holding areas. Livestock are in average physical condition. Milk production has resumed, but is still limited. The ICRC helped inoculate 47,029 head of livestock against sheep and goat plague (PPR) and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia between December 2012 and June 2013.

Market performance and prices

In general, markets across the country have average food supplies, bolstered by harvests of off-season rice crops in villagelevel irrigation schemes around the country and harvests of maize and tuber crops in lake areas of the Timbuktu region. Cereal supplies on source markets are down due to the late start of the growing season, prompting farmers to stockpile their crops. The combined effects of these smaller supplies and of the normal rise in demand for millet during the observance of Ramadan are responsible for the upward movement in prices reported on certain source markets for millet such as Bankass, where prices are up by five percent, and Koutiala, which is reporting a nine percent hike in prices. Retail market prices for millet, which is in high demand at this time of year, are above the five-year average by four percent in Ségou and 20 percent in Timbuktu, though down from the same time last year. Rice prices acround the country are relatively stable and, in general, are below-average. The slump in sales due to low demand, particularly in areas targeted by distributions of free food assistance, has cut prices by five percent in Gao and by 10 and 20 percent, respectively, in Dire and Timbuktu, which is hurting the income of rice farmers. Business on livestock markets is increasingly brisk in spite of the low supply of animals at this time of year as migratory herds head back to rainy season grazing areas. Supplies of livestock on northern markets are tight, where prices are more than 25 percent above-average. Terms of trade for goats/millet are more than 15 percent above-average, which is improving the food access of pastoral households.

Humanitarian assistance

Ongoing humanitarian assistance programs are actively providing poor populations with food rations, millet/sorghum and rice seeds, and cash income. Over 35 percent of poor households in all three northern regions are being served by these assistance programs which are scheduled to continue through September, and possibly December of this year, in some cases. As of the end of June, more than 330,000 beneficiaries had been assisted by these programs, which should help limit the use of harmful coping strategies by poor pastoral and agropastoral households in the northern part of the country during the ongoing lean season. Distributions of seeds to small farmers in riverbelt areas and herd rebuilding programs (providing two head of livestock per household) are helping to restore household livelihoods eroded by the protracted crisis since March 2012. The ongoing deployment of MINUSMA troops has helped extend the reach of humanitarian assistance programs in pastoral areas. One reported effect of the scaled-up assistance efforts in the north, particularly since June, is a largescale flow of return migration by displaced and refugee populations with the normal end of the school year in the south and the appeal for the resumption of different public services. According to the social development agency, estimates as of the end of June put the number of returnees to the city of Gao at over 14,000.

Food security in the north

In spite of the resumption of milk production marking the end of the lean season in pastoral areas, pastoral households still have limited market access, which is affecting their purchasing power. With the scaling up of ongoing humanItarian assistance efforts and the growing supply of milk, these households will be facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions. Their better physical access to livestock markets to sell their animals and stock up on food supplies should help improve their livelihoods. Likewise, the food security situation of agropastoral households in riverbelt areas of Timbuktu and Gao will improve with the large-scale food and farm input assistance programs underway, increasing on-farm employment opportunities, and the increasingly good job prospects for laborers. The defrayal by humanitarian relief organizations of certain capital costs such as the cost of farm inputs (seeds and animal feed) and health care costs is reducing household reliance on harmful coping strategies. Distributions of small animals, the doubling of food rations in school meal programs, and the rebound in economic activity are improving the ilvelihoods of households served by these assistance programs.

Food security in the south

The normal operation of cereal and livestock markets in the southern part of the country is ensuring local populations an adequate food supply. Cereal prices ranging from five to 10 percent above the five-year average, the availability of offseason rice crops, and imminent harvests of fresh maize crops (in August) in southern farming areas are facilitating household food access. Though limited by the erratic rainfall, farming activities are serving as a source of food and income, enabling poor households to meet their food needs. Other regular sources of income (seasonal migration and the gathering of karite nuts) are functioning normally, providing average levels of income enabling households to meet their food needs with relative ease. The good performance of food security drivers is helping to keep food insecurity at Minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) at this time. 

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December 2013 is based on the following underlying assumptions with respect to future national-level developments:

  • Security: The security climate will be marked by the stabilization of conditions in both urban and rural areas with the deployment of MINUSMA troops. This improvement in security will continue to help spur economic recovery and the resumption of trade, particularly in the Timbuktu, Gao, and northern Mopti regions. Localized disturbances in Kidal will continue throughout the outlook period.
  • Rainfall/flood levels: According to joint forecasts by the ACMAD and NOAA from June of this year, there is a good probability of normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall in the Sahelian countries, including Mali. However, a good spatial-temporal distribution of this rainfall is also needed to ensure a good harvest for the current growing season. The outlook for streamflow conditions on the different rivers supplying water to Mali is consistent with this forecast.
  • Locust infestation: There is likely to be some level of locust activity in the Sahel. However, for lack of any evidence to the contrary with respect to the magnitude and timing of this locust presence, the most likely scenario is that the scope and impact of any locust infestations will be limited in terms of damage to crops and pasture in the north and the western Sahel. The locust control agency has formulated a response plan and conducted refresher training sessions for its agents.
  • Crop production: Based on the current climate outlook (rainfall and flood levels) and with the extension of the national farm input assistance program providing government subsidies for farm inputs (seeds and fertilizers) for 100 percent of rice-growing areas in village-level irrigation schemes and 50 percent of flood-irrigated rice-farming areas, there is every reason to expect an average to good nationwide cereal harvest, provided a regular pattern of rainfall. The FAO, ICRC, and other NGOs will furnish more than 246,600 recipients with farm input assistance, particularly in northern and southern areas of the country.
  • Animal production: By the end of July/August, the growth of fresh pasture will boost milk production compared with production levels in June. In addition to improving their diet, these milk supplies represent an important source of income for pastoral households between July and December.
  • Seasonal migration by livestock: The improvement in security conditions in the northern part of the country is helping to promote the resumption of normal herd movements by transhumant livestock from riverbelt areas and the vicinity of wells to rainy season grazing areas. These herd movements have been in progress since June with the late June rains in areas of Rharous.
  • Livestock prices: Prices for livestock will follow normal seasonal trends, with foreign demand and demand for the month-long observance of Ramadan keeping them consistently above-average throughout the outlook period, particularly in southern farming areas. Market performance in the northern part of the country will continue to improve, with more lucrative prices compared with the period from March through June.
  • Cereal prices: Bolstered by generally adequate supplies, cereal (millet) prices will follow normal seasonal trends but will stay above the five-year average by five to 20 percent on markets across the country throughout the outlook period. Market prices in the north will be higher than in the south, where they are two to 10 percent above-average. There will be sufficiently good cereal availability to meet the growing demand for the month-long observance of Ramadan without triggering a major increase in prices.
  • Humanitarian programs: Humanitarian food and nonfood assistance programs for poor households in progress since March, particularly in the northern part of the country, will be scaled up and further expanded into pastoral areas with the deployment of MINUSMA troops. These assistance programs will continue through September if not December, according to the implementing agency in question. Livelihood recovery efforts in the south (seed assistance and distributions of small farm implements) will continue in all areas affected by last year’s events (the Niger River Delta area and the Western Sahel), based on the different programs in place. The same goes for assistance programs for displaced northern populations in other parts of the country, or an estimated population of 353,455 DPs (according to the UNOCHA).
  • Government distributions of food assistance: More than 180,000 residents of northern Mali will receive two months (August and September) worth of food rations (millet and rice) from the government. 
  • Migration and population movements: The regular flow of return migration by the rural work force since May will continue normally. The slightly below-average levels of income generated by this labor migration due to the nationwide socioeconomic crisis and resulting hardship conditions will help provide households with needed funding to invest in crop production and improve their livelihoods between July and August. The flow of IDPs returning to northern areas of the country will intensify between now and December as security improves in these areas.
  • Economic activity/income: The economic situation in the north will gradually return to normal as stabilization efforts continue. Conditions will improve in July compared with previous months, but there will still be below-average levels of economic activity, particularly in large urban areas. Farm labor, brick-laying activities, sales of firewood and bourgou grass, transportation services, and small-scale trading activities will be the main sources of food and income for poor households throughout the outlook period.
Most likely food security outcomes 

In southern Mali:

Based on established assumptions, there should be average to good nationwide levels of crop production and normal food availability following the September/October harvest. Average growing season conditions should ensure on-farm employment opportunities for poor households in farming areas throughout the season, during the planting/crop maintenance period between July and August and on into the harvesting period between October and December. Normal market performance with prices slightly above the five-year average by two to 10 percent is giving poor households relatively good food access to meet their consumption needs, bolstered by the meals provided in exchange for farm labor and the normal supplies of famine foods such as tubers and wild plant foods in these areas. The availability of fresh offseason rice crops from irrigated rice-farming schemes and fresh pulses in September will strengthen food access in these areas. Income from normal labor migration and the usual income-generating activities (small-scale trading and foraging) and in-kind wage payments for farm labor in the form of food will help provide poor households with enough food and income between July and December to meet their food needs. The 10 to over 15 percent improvement in terms of trade for goats/millet on most markets will strengthen the food access of agropastoral households. The availability of typical famine foods (pulses and wild fruits) and the first harvests of early cereal crops in September will mark the end of the lean season. These food security drivers will help keep food insecurity for very poor and poor households at Minimal levels (IPC Phase 1) through December. 

In northern Mali:

The improvement in trade with regular sources of supply, the rebound in economic activity with the return of displaced populations, and the return of the government workforce will help improve socioeconomic conditions in different parts of northern Mali. Even with the improvement in the flow of trade, very poor and poor households in riverbelt areas (livelihood zone 3) highly dependent on local markets will continue to have difficulty meeting their food needs throughout the current lean season with the reduction in their normal income stream. For most households, these problems will be mitigated by the large-scale humanitarian food assistance and cash transfer programs in place between July and the next round of harvests in October-November. The provision of a sizeable amount of assistance and the economic recovery will bring down food insecurity levels to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in early August.

The resumption of milk production in northern pastoral areas in July-August marking the end of the lean season for pastoral populations will provide food and income for pastoral households, bringing food insecurity down from Crisis to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels. The growing effort to scale up humanitarian assistance programs is helping to limit the use of harmful coping strategies by poor households. The improved mobility of nomadic households, giving them increasingly better access to markets in the river valley, is enabling pastoralists to take advantage of the already over 15 percent improvement in terms of trade for livestock/cereal to replenish their food supplies, particularly with the higher market demand for their animals for the month-long observance of Ramadan. With these positive drivers of food security and September harvests of wild fonio, poor households will be experiencing Minimal levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) by October. 

Areas of Concern

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

Current situation

Transhumant or nomadic livestock-raising (LZ 2), trans-Saharan trade between major Malian cities (Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao) and Algeria (LZ 1), migration, and craft-making are the mainstays of the local economies of both livelihood zones. The extremely poor or lack of crop production in livelihood zone 1 in particular explains the high, year-round market dependence of local populations, both for the sale of their livestock and for the purchasing of food supplies. Their high dependence on markets and livestock explains their large vulnerability to anomalies in market and pastoral conditions.

The July rains helped improve pastoral conditions in grazing areas. New pasture growth, though below-average and less advanced than at the same time last year, and the replenishment of animal watering holes since June have helped jumpstart normal migratory movements by nomadic households to their usual rainy season grazing areas along the country’s borders with Niger and Burkina Faso and towards Mauritania. Milk production, an essential part of household food intake, has picked up and is currently helping to improve the quality of the diets of pastoral households. These supplies of milk are making pastoral households less dependent on local markets. 

The strengthening of security conditions by the presence of U.N. troops has improved the poor physical access of pastoralists to the markets on which they would normally sell their livestock (Ansongo and Wabaria) since March of this year. Business on livestock markets is becoming increasingly brisk with the return of regular wholesaler traders who had been keeping their distance. To circumvent mobility constraints, pastoral households are relying on sedentary friends to sell their animals and buy food, which is preventing them from commanding a good price for their livestock. Foregone profits from these sales can amount to as much as 20 to 40 percent of the average price of their animals, which has sharply curtailed food access on markets where prices are approximately 20 percent above the five-year average. The average price of a female goat was 12,500 CFAF in July of this year, compared with a normal price of 20,000 CFAF in the municipality of Doukouria. 

The volatile security situation marked by periodic disturbances continues to limit mobility in the Kidal region, disrupting normal travel by traders and in turn, restricting the flow of trade. There is a steady but unusually small flow of trade with Algeria, even with the reported improvement since May. This trade is helping to meet local demand for semolina, wheat, and pasta from residents of pastoral and riverbelt areas channeled through sedentary intermediaries. The improvement in trade has helped lower the price of fuel in Timbuktu and Gao by 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively, since June. Trade flows are still limited, though sufficient to meet household needs. Prices for wheat semolina, the main dietary staple, are unchanged from last month, while the price of milk is up slightly, by 15 percent. 

Livestock markets outside large cities like Kidal and Gossi are having difficulty recovering with the lack of buyers. The military presence in Kidal is heightening demand and driving up prices. Thus, livestock prices in Kidal are more than 30 percent above-average due to the interplay of a growing demand and low supply. Larger than usual numbers of nomadic pastoralists are reportedly frequenting border markets, mainly in Niger and Burkina Faso, where they are able to sell their animals and stock up on food supplies. Nevertheless, the combined effects of the erosion in the livestock capital of most poor households and the slump in business on livestock markets are translating into below-average household income.

The volume of humanitarian assistance delivered through distributions of food rations, cash transfer programs, and herd rebuilding programs in pastoral areas since March has increased with the improvement in security conditions in these areas. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of households in the Kidal region are served by programs operated by the WFP and ICRC. The monthly food assistance program by the WFP and ICRC in the Kidal region extending from March through September of this year has over 70,000 beneficiaries. 

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario in these two livelihood zones for the period from July through December 2013 is based on the following specific assumptions:

  • The signature of the peace accord by the Malian government and the MNLA (the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) and the deployment of U.N. troops (MINUSMA) should help stabilize if not improve the security situation and promote trade with regular sources of supply. Sales of livestock in neighboring countries like Algeria and Niger will increase between now and December.
  • The Algerian border will remain closed through December. However, informal trading in staple foodstuffs and livestock should continue to help bolster the flow of trade and the limited market supplies in these areas.
  • New pasture growth and the replenishment of animal watering holes in grazing areas should help boost milk production between July and December, improving the diet of pastoral households. The resulting good physical condition of livestock will boost income from sales of animals.
  • Livestock markets and markets in remote areas of the far northern reaches of the country will continue to gradually reopen for business with the restoration of stability in these areas. The return of wholesale traders to increasingly accessible markets with the improvement in security conditions is a boon for pastoral populations highly dependent on the sale of livestock. The mounting demand for livestock beginning as of July will generate above-average levels of income for pastoralists.
Most likely food security outcomes

Residents of both livelihood zones completely dependent on local markets will face the same food security outcomes. With the erosion in their livestock capital and the disruption of livestock markets reducing normal household income by approximately 20 percent, many households have been resorting to coping strategies (reducing their food intake and cooking mostly sauceless dishes like porridge) in order to maintain their market access. They will continue to rely on these strategies through the end of July, when the improvement in the security situation will help pave the way for the return of displaced populations and the resumption of economic activities. Humanitarian assistance programs for pastoral populations will be scaled up in August, bolstering food availability for pastoral households. Government distributions of two months worth of free food rations between August and September and continuing humanitarian operations through December will enable households to meet their food needs fairly easily between August and September, keeping food insecurity at Stressed levels (IPC Phase 2). 

As of October, the recovery of livestock markets with the mounting demand for live animals for the celebration of Tabaski and the bulk shipments to market of food crops at reduced prices, in line with normal seasonal trends, will help provide households with food and income and enable them to rebuild certain livelihood assets. Community assistance networks in pastoral areas will provide poor households with loans or gifts of a few head of livestock from better-off households. In addition, the return of better-off households will jump-start economic activities such as livestock trading, transportation services, and migration. The return of displaced populations and the extension of humanitarian assistance programs will help improve food availability for poor households. The combined effects of these food security drivers and of the improvement in security conditions will help more or less normalize the situation of pastoral households, translating into Minimal levels of food insecurity (Phase 1, IPC 2.0) between October and December.

Livelihood zone 3 (Fluvial rice and transhumant livestock rearing)

Current situation

Trade with southern Mali has visibly improved since the stabilization of conditions in the cities of Timbuktu and Gao with the deployment of MISMA troops in March of this year. Regular shipments by truck from the south have created good cereal availability on major source markets in the Timbuktu and Gao regions. However, demand is flagging with ongoing distributions of food assistance in riverbelt areas of Timbuktu and Gao, where the volume of sales by traders is down by more than 50 percent compared with the norm. Traders are voluntarily cutting the size of their inventories in an attempt to limit losses, but reportedly still have large inventories in Mopti which can be mobilized with two days notice. 

The slow but steady return of regular suppliers, whether directly or through intermediaries, improved market supplies of semolina, flour, rice, and pasta from Algeria in July. The price of couscous is near-average and the price of milk is 21 percent above-average. 

The wheat harvests between April and June and harvests of maize and tuber crops in lake areas of Timbuktu in Goundam, Niafunké, and Diré Districts have improved food availability and triggered unusual drops in prices, particularly for sorghum and maize. These generally good harvests are enabling poor households to start off the new winter growing season feeling more relaxed. Millet and sorghum crops are currently in the process of being planted in lake and interdune areas. Plowing activities and the planting of seedbeds for rice crops are already underway. Ongoing assistance programs for small farmers are furnishing over 20,000 poor households in the Gao and Timbuktu regions with a supply of rice seeds, reducing their capital outlays to enable them to meet other household needs for food, health care, etc.

Millet prices are up slightly from last month by five percent in Timbuktu and seven percent in Gao and are above the fiveyear average by 18 percent in Gao and 22 percent in Timbuktu. In general, rice prices are unchanged from last month and under the five-year average by approximately five percent. These lower prices are helping to improve household food access but are limiting the investment capacity of farmers relying on income from crop sales to cover their expenses for the new growing season. 

Business on livestock markets is increasingly brisk, but attendance is still poorer than usual. In general, livestock prices are reportedly up from last month in response to a growing demand with the increasingly large presence of wholesale traders from Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso on the Ansongo and Wabaria markets, triggered by the month-long observance of Ramadan. Livestock prices are more than 20 percent above-average. Terms of trade for goats/millet are the same or better than last month and above the average by 17 percent in Timbuktu and 39 percent in Ansongo, strengthening the staple food access of pastoral households in this area. 

IDPs and refugees are actively returning to both areas with the end of the school year, the improvement in security conditions, and the start of the new growing season. The increasingly brisk economic recovery is reflected mainly in the improvement in the construction industry and in on-farm employment. With the depletion of household stocks of crops at this time of year (the lean season) and the lower than usual level of household income due to the unstable socioeconomic climate, poor households are finding it difficult to adequately meet their food needs on local markets. However, food access problems are being mitigated by humanitarian food and nonfood assistance programs serving over 30 percent of households in both areas. Ongoing distributions of free food assistance throughout the lean season are meeting only part of the food needs of very poor and poor households, compelling them to resort to certain coping strategies such as cutting the size of their meals and turning to less expensive foods like millet. Thus, the large-scale ongoing food assistance and livelihood recovery programs by the humanitarian community have helped improve the food security situation of poor households from to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from July through December 2013 is based on the following specific assumptions:

  • The improvement in the navigability of local rivers for travel by pinasse as of the end of July will help keep northern areas supplied with needed foodstuffs. This mode of transport can be used by both traders and humanitarian relief workers.
  • The jump-starting of farming activities in July represents a potential source of food and income for poor households. However, the issue of the non-payment of irrigation fees in large-scale irrigated rice-farming schemes in Timbuktu warrants closer attention, to ensure that local households are able to effectively farm their land. These irrigation schemes are expecting below-average harvests.
  • The imminent reopening of government offices and likely resumption of banking services will speed up the economic recovery in this area, which will encourage more iDPs and refugees to return to their homes.
  • There will be deliveries of food assistance throughout the lean season, between July and September, enabling poor households to limit their recourse to harmful coping strategies.
Most likely food security outcomes

In spite of the rebound in economic activity, poor households will bring in 15 to 20 percent less income than usual between July and September, which will limit their market access during the lean season when they are highly dependent on market purchasing. However, with migrant remittances in cash and in kind, the employment opportunities engendered by the start of the growing season, payments for farm labor in the form of meals, income from sales of fish and fish products, and the scaling up of humanitarian assistance programs, local households should continue to experience Stressed food security outcomes (IPC Phase 2) through the end of September.

Supplies of fresh flood-irrigated rice crops in lake areas as of August, wild plant products in September, and early cereal crops harvested in November will further improve household food availability. The expected average to good rice harvests in November-December will provide poor households with an average supply of rice through in-kind wage payments, which will be used to rebuild household food stocks in this area. Local households will be able to adequately meet their food needs fairly easily during this time, exposing them to Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1). The availability of fish between October and December will significantly improve the quality of the household diet. 

Geographic area  Possible events Impacts on food security conditions
Livelihood zones 3 and 6 Sizeable volume of farm input assistance for irrigated rice-farming schemes (fertilizer, seeds, and fuel)  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 the food security of area households. This will help preserve employment opportunities for poor households in these areas. 
Nationwide Rainfall deficit and shortened rainy season Poor rainfall conditions in pastoral areas will create pasture deficits in livestock grazing areas and limit animal production (milk and dairy products). The large shortfall in crop production in southern cropproducing areas will prompt farmers to stockpile their crops, driving up market prices.
Nationwide  Post-electoral tension and nationwide hike in oil prices A post-electoral crisis will shut down the country’s borders, driving up prices for oil and other staple commodities. With food prices already five to 20 percent above-average, this hike in prices will curtail the food access of poor households. The ensuing social unrest could inflict long term economic disruptions on the national economy
Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and northern Mopti regions Further stabilization of conditions 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 its regular trading partners elsewhere in the country and in neighboring countries, encouraging displaced populations to return to their homes and sustaining the momentum of the economic recovery jump-started by the ongoing military campaign. This will improve the delivery and effectiveness of required humanitarian assistance for a large segment of the population, particularly with the new growing season about to begin, when the optimization of farming activities can guarantee the food security of these 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.

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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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