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Food access will improve with the new harvest in October

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mali
  • July - December 2014
Food access will improve with the new harvest in October

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Areas of Concern
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Distributions of food rations to 1,900,000 recipients under the government’s National Response Plan backstopped by the humanitarian community should prevent a further escalation in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels of acute food insecurity in the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions, the Dogon Plateau area of Bandiagara, and the Western Sahel.

    • In general, cumulative seasonal rainfall totals for the current rainy season should be average to below-average.

    • However, a good distribution of rainfall and sizeable volume of farm input assistance could mitigate the effects of below-average levels of cumulative rainfall and ensure an average to above-average volume of crop production for the 2014/2015 season. This rainfall activity will also strengthen pasture and water availability for livestock which, in turn, will improve their physical condition and milk availability.

    • By October, good terms of trade for livestock/cereals, the availability of milk and dairy products for pastoral households, and harvests of crops by agropastoral households will improve food consumption, which should return to normal seasonal levels. There will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity in all parts of the country between October and December.


    National Overview

    Growing season

    The one-to-two-week earlier than usual start of the rains in May helped cultivation activities in southern crop-growing areas and localized areas of northern Mali, creating average food and income-producing opportunities for poor households in these areas. In general, cumulative rainfall totals for the period from May 1st through July 20th were normal to above-normal, except in the Mopti, Ségou, and northern Kayes regions, where there were rainfall deficits. The reported dry spells in June slowed planting rates in many crop-growing areas across the country, particularly in northern Kayes, Mopti, and Ségou.

    The growth of fresh pasture, spurred by rainfall in May-June, allowed for normal seasonal migration by livestock herds to rainy season grazing areas. However, the unusual deterioration in conditions in certain grazing areas due to the pasture deficit created by last year’s poor rainfall conditions, particularly in the Western Sahel and northern areas of the country, prolonged the lean season in pastoral areas through the end of July. This has seriously affected milk production and livestock body conditions, which are much poorer than usual.

    Security situation

    The security situation has been marred by clashes between rebel groups in the far north, negatively affecting travel in this area and the smooth operation of humanitarian assistance programs. These security incidents are also slowing the momentum of economic recovery. The resulting caution taken by many is leading to less trade than seen in a typical year, translating into below-average levels of household income from these activities.

    Cereal production for the 2013/14 season

    Though Mail’s food balance sheet showed a gross surplus of over 800,000 metric tons for the 2013/14 consumption year, there were pockets of poor crop production in northern Kayes and Koulikoro, Mopti, the Dogon Plateau area of Bandiagara, and localized riverine areas of Timbuktu and Gao. Households in these areas had below-average farm incomes and depleted their food stocks earlier than usual which, in turn, is making it unusually difficult to maintain their food access during the ongoing lean season for agropastoral populations.

    Market function and prices

    On the whole, in spite of the normal seasonal contraction in supplies with the gradual depletion of on-farm food stocks, markets are still sufficiently well-stocked with foodstuffs from trader inventories, which are at average levels. The availability of fresh off-season rice crops in the Office du Niger irrigation district, San department, and small village-level irrigation schemes in Gao and Timbuktu has contributed to the usual improvement in supplies of this foodstuff compared with previous months.

    Cereal prices have been uncharacteristically stable since last month, except for the 10 percent jump in the price of millet in Sikasso and Mopti with the usual high demand during the observance of Ramadan. Prices for millet, the main cereal consumed by Malian households, are above the five-year average by 11 percent in Mopti, seven percent in Koulikoro, six percent in Ségou, and four percent in Sikasso, Gao, and Timbuktu. Millet prices are near or below figures for last year on all regional markets with the exception of Ségou (+8 percent) and Mopti (+13 percent). Stable prices are enabling households to maintain their market access.

    The improvement in livestock-raising conditions in southern agropastoral areas is helping to drive up prices for livestock on major markets. This has been strengthening household income compared with earnings during the lean season in pastoral areas between April and June. As of July 20th, livestock prices were above the five-year average by approximately 10 percent in Mopti and 30 percent in Sikasso. Prices in northern areas of the country, where severe pasture deficits are affecting the physical condition of local livestock, are under the average by approximately 20 percent in Kidal and 10 percent in Timbuktu. The resulting decline in the market value of livestock has negatively affected the incomes of agropastoral households and contributed to the deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereals in Timbuktu and Kidal compared with figures for previous months, as well as the average.

    Humanitarian assistance

    Some 1.11 million recipients were served by humanitarian food assistance programs (by the WFP, FAO, ICRC, etc.) between January and June of this year, mainly in the Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and Mopti regions. In addition, grants of farm input assistance to some 255,294 beneficiaries are enabling recipient households in areas hard hit by the poor crop yields for the 2013/14 season to develop their production capacity. This is also the case for the 16,926 recipients of livestock assistance and the 126,167 beneficiaries of social safety net programs (Food Security Cluster, June). Ongoing screening and treatment programs for malnutrition are limiting the deterioration in the state of nutrition during this year’s lean season in farming areas.

    Assumptions

    The most likely national food security scenario for July through December 2014 was established based on the following assumptions:

    Progression of the season:

    • Rainfall: The rainy season will extend through October in northern areas of the country and through October/November in southern farming areas, with high levels of rainfall between July and August. Forecasts by major weather forecasting centers (IRI, ECMWF, CPC) show no major anomalies for the next few months. However, based on the below-average rainfall activity in July in most parts of the country, FEWS NET is expecting average to slightly below-average cumulative rainfall for July through October across the country, with a good temporal distribution of rainfall during critical periods of plant growth and development.
    • Crop pests: In general, there is very little risk of a locust infestation during the 2014/15 growing season and, should it materialize, its scale and impact in terms of losses of crops and pasture would be limited. On the other hand, maturing millet/sorghum and rice crops in certain localized areas could be attacked by grain-eating birds in September, particularly in the north, where such attacks will be more severe than usual with the lack or limited operability of treatment structures.
    • Crop production: The current growing season is benefiting from the government’s strengthened subsidy program and a sizeable volume of farm input assistance from its development partners. Crop planting rates should be above-average with the help of this assistance and new development schemes. This should help boost crop production in spite of expected near-to-below-average cumulative seasonal rainfall levels. The Ministry of Agriculture is expecting an approximately 27 percent above-average volume of crop production for 2014/15. The main harvest will begin in October and continue through the end of the year.
    • Farm labor: With the expected normal growing season in farming and agropastoral areas, farm labor will provide poor households with food and average incomes between July and August (from crop maintenance work) and from October through December (from harvests).
    • Animal production: There will be average levels of milk production and animal birth rates during the outlook period in all parts of the country with the exception of certain highly localized areas of the north where the especially poor physical condition of livestock precludes a rapid physiological recovery by female animals. The hunger-induced drop in new births will reduce the size of dairy herds and, thus, limit milk production between July and December.
    • Transhumance: Seasonal herd movements will continue between July and October with the improvement in the condition of pastures and watering holes in regular rainy season holding areas in both pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones. Livestock herds will return from rainy season grazing areas to graze on crop residues in October-November. The seasonal decline in the supply of pasture and availability of surface water resources in December will lead to a return migration by livestock herds to year-round watering holes and floodplain pastures (bourgoutières). Regular herd movements in the Gao and Kidal regions could be disrupted by continuing security problems, creating unusual concentrations of livestock posing a risk of overgrazing in secure areas and areas along the country’s border with Niger.

    Trade and price dynamics:

    • Cereal markets: In general, cereal markets across the country will be sufficiently well-stocked with crops from farmers and average trader inventories. The seasonal contraction in supplies will continue through the end of August, followed by an improvement in supplies in September with the arrival of fresh crops for the 2014 season from generally average to above-average harvests. There will be the usual seasonal rise in demand in food-short areas between July and August, particularly in demand for millet for the observance of Ramadan. However, there will be less demand than usual in northern areas and the Dogon Plateau area due to the distributions of food assistance in these areas.
    • Cereal prices: There will be a slow seasonal increase in cereal prices through the end of August, followed by price stability and, in some cases, a small drop in prices (in September) in anticipation of an average to above-average harvest production. Based on current price levels and normal seasonal price movements, millet prices will stay slightly above-average between July and December.
    • Livestock prices: The improvement in the physical condition of animals will trigger the usual seasonal rise in livestock prices between July and December. Expected demand for Ramadan (in July), Tabaski (in October), and the year-end holiday season will contribute to growing domestic demand for small animals and demand for cattle exports to neighboring countries, keeping prices above-average throughout the outlook period. Prices for small animals will peak between July and August and, again, in October. Visibly improved terms of trade for livestock/cereals between July and December should be above-average.

    Other assumptions:

    • Civil insecurity: The signature of a cease-fire agreement by the Malian government and armed groups on July 24th of this year is good cause to hope for a certain easing of tensions in the north. However, from time to time, continuing tensions between different armed groups will create disruptions as part of their fight for positioning.
    • Economic activity: The different forms of assistance from the government and its development partners designed to help facilitate the return and reintegration of displaced and repatriated households are expected to improve the economic climate in the north. However, the civil insecurity in the northeast affecting the circulation of people and goods and reducing the volume of business and household incomes to below-average levels will continue to cause disruptions. Poor households in southern areas of the country will earn average incomes from their regular economic activities throughout the outlook period.
    • Population movements: Return migration by migrant workers to their homes will pick up in July. Their above-average cash and in-kind earnings will help improve household access to local markets and help strengthen or rebuild affected livelihoods, easing food security problems, particularly in Bandiagara and Nara departments and the northern part of the country. Displaced people, whose number was estimated at 128,866 as of June of this year (Population Movement Commission), will continue to return to northern areas of the country with the help of the government and the humanitarian community throughout the outlook period.
    • Humanitarian operations: The National Response Plan will be implemented in conjunction with humanitarian organizations between July and October, serving some 1,900,000 food-insecure recipients across the country. In addition, the distributions of food assistance by WFP and ICRC beginning in January of this year will continue in northern areas of the country and Bandiagara department, which will help ease the food insecurity of local populations affected by the security crisis and poor crop production for 2013/14.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Farm labor, household harvests, migrant remittances, and other regular economic activities will help create average food and income-earning opportunities for poor households in southern farming areas. In addition, average to slightly above-average cereal prices will help give households average market access during the lean season (from July to September) without resorting to atypical coping strategies. As a result, there will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in these areas throughout the outlook period.

    However, poor agropastoral households in the Dogon Plateau area of Bandiagara and the Western Sahel with unusually low farm incomes for 2013/14 due to last year’s poor rainfall conditions will boost their use of atypical coping strategies more than usual in order to maintain their food access. Poor households in these areas with limited assets have already sold practically all their livestock and are resorting to unusually high levels of borrowing. They have also made changes to their diet such as eating more porridge instead of sauced dishes and are unable to meet certain expenses (for health, education, farm inputs, etc.). These households will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes between July and September, with food assistance programs preventing any further escalation in food insecurity levels. With the expected average harvests, these households will meet their food needs without resorting to atypical coping strategies or depending on food assistance and, thus, will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between October and December.

    The shortfalls in household income in agropastoral areas of Timbuktu and Gao due to the combined effects of the poor crop yields for 2013/14 and the negative impact of the security crisis on economic activity will create Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes for poor households between July and September. However, the expected harmful changes in the food consumption patterns of poor households between July and September will be mitigated by the ongoing humanitarian assistance programs in these areas through the month of September serving approximately half the local population. With the availability of fresh crops and seasonal decline in prices, these households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity as of the beginning of October.

    In spite of the improvement in grazing conditions in pastoral areas, strengthening their access to milk through community assistance networks, poor households in these areas are earning less income due to continuing security problems, which are disrupting economic activity. Since most poor households with limited livestock capital forced to await the birth of new animals in August-September before attempting to sell any livestock are served by humanitarian assistance programs, they should continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2! or 2) food insecurity outcomes between July and September. As of September, the availability of milk and improved terms of trade surpassing the five-year average will help give these households average market access, translating into Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.


    Areas of Concern

    Livelihood zone 5 (Dogon Plateau: millet, shallots, wild foods, and tourism)

    The sharp decline in crop production for 2013/14 in Dogon Plateau put it more than 50 percent below-average. The low yields from cereal and market garden crops limited food availability and reduced income from sales of these crops (pulses and market garden produce). This year’s equally poor pastoral conditions are attributable to the effects of last year’s below-average rainfall activity on pasture and water availability for livestock.

    Current situation

    Rainfall levels in this area between May and the end of July were below-average. However, the reported rainfall activity in this area is helping to facilitate ongoing manure spreading and crop planting activities. Available opportunities for farm labor are generating near-average incomes for poor households in spite of the unusual failure of part of the workforce to return home due to the problematic food security situation in this area.

    Household incomes are, overall, still lower than usual due to shortfalls in income from other major sources. More specifically, households earned very little income from their poorer than usual shallot production between October and March. There were also slightly lower than usual levels of migration income which, with this year’s livestock maintenance problems and the untimely need to sell animals before the regular holiday season, translated into lower than usual earnings from fattening operations for small animals. Households are attempting to offset shortfalls in their income by expanding the gathering and sale of wild fruits (grapes and grapevines) and wood, but proceeds from the sale of these products do not fully cover the gap created by their below-average incomes from other activities.

    The regular flow of trade is maintaining average cereal availability on markets in this department. Millet prices on the Bandiagara market are unchanged from last month and approximately 10 percent below the five-year average with ongoing distributions of full food rations to approximately 60 percent of the local population by the government and the humanitarian community reducing local demand.

    Limited market access due to shortfalls in household income is reportedly producing small to moderate changes in eating habits, with a larger than usual increase in cream (porridge) consumption by many poor households on the Dogon Plateau as a substitute for cooked meals. Some very poor households are also reportedly cutting the size of their meals, concerned with extending the duration of their food rations. This pattern could affect the state of child nutrition.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario for July through December 2014 in this livelihood zone was established based on the following area-specific assumptions:

    Progression of the season:

    • Rainfall: Forecasts by major weather forecasting centers (IRI, ECMWF, CPC) show no major anomalies in this area between now and the end of the rainy season in late September. Thus, FEWS NET is expecting average rainfall levels and an average distribution of rainfall for the rest of the season. However, given the rainfall deficits between May and mid-July, a modeling analysis of results based on recent trends in rainfall activity points to below-average levels of cumulative rainfall for the season as a whole (from the beginning of May to the end of September), with total rainfall expected to range from 480 to 570 mm.
    • Crop production: Effects of poor rainfall conditions last year are limiting the availability of high-quality seeds for both cereal and shallot crops due to problems with seed (too small) and pod (immature) formation. However, the government and the humanitarian community will provide high-quality seed assistance for different crops to rebuild production capacity for the main growing season from July to September and the growing season for off-season market garden crops from October to March. With this combination of assistance, there is good cause to expect near-average yields of cereal and market garden crops (October-November), even with slightly bellow-average levels of cumulative rainfall.

    Incomes of poor households:

    • Total income: On the whole, there will be slightly below-average levels of total household income during the outlook period, with the following specific trends in income levels from major sources:
      • Wage income: There will be a typical level of labor opportunities for farm labor between July and September, during the high season for farm work. The poor economic situation is prompting members of poor households to resort to working longer hours as farmhands in the fields of better-off households as a source of extra income. This additional work time, paid at the same rate of compensation, will generate above-average levels of household income and in-kind wage payments. There will be below-average levels of income from nonfarm labor in activities such as brick-laying between July and September with part of the workforce failing to return home and the low demand for such work with households giving food spending priority over all other expenses. However, there will be more income-earning opportunities between October and December with the availability of fresh cereal crops and income from crop sales.
      • Farm income: The poor economic situation and funding needs for the repayment of loans will prompt households to sell larger than usual amounts of cash crops (cowpeas, peanuts, and earthpeas) as of September and early shallot crops as of December. Thus, these crop sales will generate above-average levels of income.
      • Income from livestock: The improvement in pastoral conditions between July and December will help drive up livestock prices but will not help most poor households forced to sell their animals prematurely to deal with household food security and livestock feeding problems. These premature sales of livestock will produce below-average levels of income compared with proceeds from the usual sales of small animals during the holiday season.
      • Migration income: With the earlier than usual heavy demand for remittances to support local household members, migrant workers will return home in July-August with slightly below-average remaining earnings. As usual, local workers will leave for rice-growing areas of the Niger River Delta and cereal-producing areas of Bankass and Koro in October/November. Supplies of rice and millet from these areas will bolster household food stocks and serve as sources of income.
      • Income from wild foods: The gathering and sale of larger quantities of wild foods such as wild grapes, grapevines, and leaves for the feeding of livestock between July and August will generate slightly above-average levels of household income.

    Other assumptions:

    • Borrowing: There will be above-average levels of borrowing for the purchasing of food supplies and farm inputs between July and September due to the poor economic situation and resulting lower than usual incomes. These loans will be repaid from harvests of cereal crops beginning in October and market garden crops in November-December.
    • Distributions of food assistance: Ongoing distributions of food assistance to approximately 60 percent of the local population will continue through September. These provisions will improve the food access of poor households and limit the deterioration in food consumption and nutritional conditions between July and September.
    • Cereal prices: The unusual decline in market demand for cereal crops between July and September due to ongoing humanitarian assistance programs will check normal seasonal movements in prices. Prices will stay more or less stable, with small upswings and/or downswings based on the progress of food distribution programs.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Their low incomes and resulting limited food access are prompting poor households to favor less expensive foods such as maize, tubers, and cream (porridge) more than usual, which is negatively affecting household diets, with the risk of creating or exacerbating acute malnutrition problems between July and August. Poor households, having abused the use of coping strategies such as resorting to unusually high levels of borrowing, large cuts in certain types of spending (on health, education, farm inputs, etc.), and the liquidation of their assets (selling off their livestock, poultry, bicycles, etc.), will be unable to meet their food needs without ongoing food assistance that should prevent a further escalation in current Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels of food insecurity. The availability of green crops in September will ease the severity of the lean season and put an end to the use of negative coping strategies. These households will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes during this period, even without food assistance.

    The October harvests and wage payments for farm labor in rice-growing areas of Mopti and Djenné between November and December will generate average levels of income and strengthen household food stocks in Dogon Plateau. With their slightly larger than usual proceeds from the sale of cash crops (peanuts, earthpeas, and cowpeas) and early December harvests of shallots, these households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

     

    Livelihood zone 3 (Fluvial rice and transhumant livestock rearing)

    This fluvial rice-growing and transhumant livestock-raising area is still experiencing combined effects of the poor rice yields for 2013/14 and the security crisis, which is slowing the momentum of the economic recovery and hurting the incomes of local households. These problems have made poor households market-dependent two to three months sooner than usual.

    Current situation

    This area recieved early rains as of the beginning of June, with an extremely poor temporal distribution of rainfall, followed by a long period of light rainfall activity in most parts of the Timbuktu and Gao regions extending through July 20th. The beneficial rainfall in the last week of July is helping to fill dammed areas and facilitate ongoing land preparation and crop planting work. This growing season is benefiting from farm input assistance (seeds and fertilizer) from the humanitarian community.

    The poor pastoral conditions in this area have affected the market value of livestock, which explains the approximately 20 percent below-average terms of trade for goats/millet in Timbuktu and Kidal. However, terms of trade in Rharous, Gao, and Ansongo are near average. Slightly above-average migrant remittances are helping to boost household incomes, though there are still unusually low levels of income generation from farm and nonfarm labor, petty commerce, and small-scale artisanal activities due to the weak socioeconomic climate in the aftermath of the security crisis.

    Markets are still sufficiently well-stocked with foodstuffs despite typical dissruptions to trade flows related to rainfall conditions, in this case, exacerbated by the reported localized security incidents in this area, which are primarily affecting the flow of imports from Algeria. Resulting rises in food prices are restricting access by poor households to commodities such as powdered milk (+12 percent in Gao), pasta products, wheat flour (+10 percent in Gao and +16 percent in Timbuktu), and oil (+5 percent in Gao and +13 percent in Timbuktu). July prices for millet were above average by approximately seven percent in Gao and Ansongo, eight percent in Rharous, and 13 percent in Timbuktu, curtailing the normal market access of local populations to some extent. However, the availability of off-season rice crops from localized harvests and average trader inventories are helping to improve supplies of this foodstuff.

    Poor households, which are earning below-average incomes and are market-dependent two to three months earlier than usual due to poor crop production, are having difficulty properly meeting their food needs on local markets without relying on food assistance and higher than usual levels of borrowing. However, ongoing humanitarian food assistance programs (providing full food rations) by the government and humanitarian organizations are serving approximately half the population of the Timbuktu and Gao regions. This assistance is improving the food access of poor households and limiting the deterioration in their food consumption and nutritional status. Thus, poor households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes,with humanitarian assistance preventing a further escalation in food insecurity levels.

    Assumptions

    The most likely food security scenario for July through December 2014 in this livelihood zone was established based on the following area-specific assumptions:

    Progression of the season:

    • Rainfall: The early May rains were followed by low levels of rainfall in June. However, forecasts by major weather forecasting centers (IRI, ECMWF, CPC) show no major anomalies in this area between now and the end of the rainy season in September. Thus, FEWS NET is expecting average rainfall levels and an average distribution of rainfall (between 190 and 320 mm in Gao), with heavier rainfall in July and August tapering off in September.
    • Flood levels of rivers: The levels of rivers in the Timbuktu and Gao regions were above-average as of July 20th of this year. River conditions and the level of the water table in all agro-ecological zones should be in line with the norm. There will be normal levels of flooding, which should not cause any larger than usual losses of crops.
    • Crop production: This year’s growing season is benefiting from significant farm input assistance from the government and the humanitarian community, which is strengthening farmers’ production capacity. More than 25,000 farmers in the Timbuktu and Gao regions have received grants of fertilizer and rice seeds for the planting of 7,400 hectares in rice from the Netherlands. In addition, the ICRC has supplied 30,000 local households with 610 metric tons of seeds (for different cereal crops). The combined effects of these different forms of assistance and the expected average rainfall activity between July and August should translate into average crop yields (for cereal and market garden crops), with the first harvests of green crops beginning in September.

    Trade and price dynamics:

    • Trade flows: The recent clashes between dissident groups inspiring caution on the part of traders will disrupt Trans-Saharan trade. There will be a slowdown in the flow of trade, driving up prices for imported foods. The drop in business will reduce earnings by poor households from petty commerce and product handling, transportation, and brokering services. There will continue to be a regular flow of trade with the southern part of the country, particularly with the high water level of the river making it navigable by boat and pinnace, which will help make markets much more accessible than usual between July and December.
    • Cereal prices: The expected seasonal rise in cereal prices between July and September will be slower than usual with ongoing humanitarian assistance programs reducing local demand. According to projections, prices for millet, the main cereal consumed by local households, which were above the five-year average by approximately seven percent in Gao and 13 percent in Timbuktu in July, will fluctuate by five to ten percent at the height of the lean season in August. The decline in demand as of September with harvests of green crops will help lower prices to levels just above-average.

    Other issues:

    • Borrowing: The difficult economic situation and resulting lower than usual income levels will translate into above-average levels of borrowing. These loans will be repaid from rice harvests in November-December.
    • Economic activity: The economic recovery will maintain its momentum throughout the outlook period, though there will be a growing cautiousness on the part of economic actors. The continuing flow of returning refugees and displaced persons will bolster the economic recovery, improving economic conditions compared with last year, though the economy will still be weaker than usual.
    • Wage income: Average levels of cumulative rainfall between July and August will help sustain job opportunities for farm labor and promote the planting of average to above-average-size areas in crops. However, with part of the workforce failing to return home and the cuts in non-food spending (on construction, etc.), there will be below-average levels of wage income from nonfarm labor.
    • Fishing income: There will be regular fishing activities, though fish will account for only a small share of household income and food supplies during this period.
    • Humanitarian operations: Distributions of food assistance to approximately half the population of the Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal regions will be spread over the period from July through October.
    • Nutrition: Food-insecure households will employ coping strategies harmful to their nutritional status such as cutting the size of their meals and their food spending. Ongoing distributions of food rations and screening and treatment programs for malnutrition are helping to limit the deterioration in nutritional conditions, which should be similar to conditions during last year’s lean season (June-July 2013) as described in SMART (13.5 percent malnutrition prevelance in Gao) and EFSA (12.4 percent malnutrition prevelance) surveys.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Their two to three month earlier than usual market dependence and lower incomes in the aftermath of the security crisis will make it difficult for poor households to meet their food needs while continuing to protect their livelihoods.  These households will make atypical changes in their dietary habits (i.e. cutting the size of their meals) and resort to above-average levels of borrowing between July and September. Food assistance from the government and the humanitarian community and the availability of off-season rice crops and flood-recession crops in July-August will help limit the deterioration in household food consumption. Thus, these populations will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels of acute food insecurity between July and September.

    The combined effects of the availability of green crops, humanitarian food assistance programs, and the drop in food prices will ease food security problems faced by poor households in the river valley area of the Timbuktu and Gao regions by October-November, which will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, even without food assistance. The consumption of milk (in August-September) and fish will help improve their food intake and nutritional status through the end of December.


    Events That Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1: Possible events in the next six months that could change the outlook

    Area

    Events

    Impacts on food security conditions

    National

    Inadequate rainfall and premature end of the rainy season between July and September

    A poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall will sharply reduce crop production and pasture availability. The hoarding of crops will tighten supplies on local markets, triggering atypical rises in prices. The combination of these factors and an extended lean season will have a negative effect on the food security of poor households.

    Flooding between July and August

    Frequent heavy rains could cause flooding, with massive losses of physical assets and crops, not to mention human lives. Poor flood-stricken households will have difficulty meeting their various food, health, and reconstruction needs. Resulting production losses will heighten household vulnerability to food insecurity.

    Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao regions

    Escalation in tensions between dissident groups

    Clashes between dissident groups will further disrupt the circulation of people and goods, limiting the food supplies of local populations highly dependent on markets for sales income and provisions. Disruptions and, in some cases, the suspension of humanitarian assistance programs will heighten the food insecurity of poor households, which will relocate to other areas.

    Timbuktu, Kidal, and Gao regions and Bandiagara department

    Disruption in deliveries of humanitarian assistance in August-September

    Any disruption in the delivery of humanitarian assistance will increase food insecurity during the lean season.

    Northern Mali (livelihood zones 3 and 4), Niger River Delta, and Dogon Plateau (livelihood zones 5 and 6)

    Significant damage from grain-eating birds

    An infestation of grain-eating birds in these areas of concern between September and October will cause massive production losses, curtailing household food availability and driving up market prices.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

    Cumulative rainfall totals for 2014 in Bandiagara compared with the mean

    Figure 3

    Cumulative rainfall totals for 2014 in Bandiagara compared with the mean

    Source: USGS

    Figure 3

    Source:

    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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