Food Security Outlook

More people facing food insecurity in Liptako Gourma and in some northern areas due to the effects of insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic

June 2021

June - September 2021

October 2021 - January 2022

IPC v3.0 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 v3.0 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 v3.0 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 v3.0 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

  • The new growing season began in the country with the onset of the rainy season in June. Forecasts of normal to excessive rainfall and support from the government and partners point to an overall average to above-average cereal production. The production forecasts, which are 10.4 percent higher than in the 2020-2021 season and 18.5 percent higher than the average for the past five years (National Directorate of Agriculture), will help ensure a good supply of cereals to markets.

  • The supply of foodstuffs to markets remains satisfactory overall. Near to slightly above-average cereal prices and average to above-average livestock/cereal terms of trade are favorable for household access to food.

  • The combined impact of the security crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively affect the country’s economic activities, although the COVID-19 situation has improved in terms of new positive cases and the easing of restrictions. The resulting drop in income increases households’ vulnerability, particularly in urban centers.

  • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity is ongoing and will continue until September for poor households in Liptako Gourma, poor displaced households, and victims of the July-August 2021 floods, due to their inability to meet their food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies. The food situation will improve from October to January 2022 due to the availability of harvests and the seasonal decline in basic cereal prices. These populations will then find themselves facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current situation

Agropastoral production: The onset of rains in the southern agricultural areas of the country is boosting the new growing season. Field maintenance and manure transport constitute average income and food opportunities for poor households. Off-season crops (flood recession crops and rice with full irrigation management) are progressing normally in the irrigated and lake areas throughout the country, although there have been reductions in the area planted in the northern Office du Niger area, in the cercles of Niono and Macina (Ségou Region) due to insecurity. The average harvests expected from June to July for rice and from August to September for flood recession crops will improve food availability in the areas concerned.

Pastures have begun regenerating following the onset of the rains. However, difficulties in livestock movement in the insecure areas of Liptako Gourma and certain areas of the northern regions limit access to certain pastures, and consequently affect diet and animal production. The animals are moderately fattened and animal production is average, resulting in low consumption and income for herder households.

The animal health situation is relatively stable. The livestock vaccination campaign for the predominant animal diseases is ongoing throughout the country with the support of partners such as the FAO and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Fishing production: Fishing activities are continuing in rivers and ponds. Fishing products are considered average to above average due to the continued receding of the rivers. The average income from selling fishing products is higher due to increasing fish prices, which then increase the purchasing power of fishing households and improves their diet. In the Niger Delta, insecurity continues to disrupt this activity by limiting access to certain fishing areas. This reduces the income of fishermen and, in turn, their ability to meet their food and non-food needs. Fish farming production is continuing, which boosts fish availability. 

Market operations and prices: Overall, food supplies to markets remain satisfactory during this period of seasonally lower supplies, despite security disruptions and COVID-19 restrictions, which are reducing flows to certain markets, particularly in Liptako Gourma and northern Ségou. A revitalization of flows has been observed on the Koro and Bankass markets thanks to the reopening of the RN16 road, which links this production area to Burkina Faso.

The price of the staple cereal on the markets of the regional capitals was stable overall at the end of May. Compared to the five-year average, the price of the main cereal in the markets of the regional capitals is up 5 percent in Kayes, 24 percent in Sikasso, 7 percent in Timbuktu, 12 percent in Gao, and 24 percent in Ménaka; down 11 percent in Koulikoro and 5 percent in Mopti; and similar (down 3 percent) in Ségou. These prices limit poor households’ food access, particularly in Ménaka, because of their low animal capital. Imported foodstuffs remain sufficiently available and their prices remain stable to slightly higher thanks to continued imports, although they are low compared to the average, and to tax exemptions granted by the government. 

Livestock markets are moderately supplied, except in insecure areas where prudent behavior continues to limit market attendance in favor of other, more secure markets. However, there is an increase in supply due to the high demand for the Tabaski holiday. Livestock prices are up overall.

Compared to the five-year average, the price of goats, which is the animal most commonly sold by poor households to access food, is virtually the same in Rharous, and up 19 percent in Gao, 15 percent in Bourem, and 25 percent in Ménaka. This situation is favorable to average to above-average pastoral incomes for households that still have these goats for the market. The goat/cereal terms of trade compared to the average of the last five years are virtually the same in Ménaka and Rharous (up 1 percent); slightly up in Bourem (7 percent), Mopti (14 percent), Timbuktu (17 percent), and Nara (22 percent); and down in Gao (9 percent). This situation is favorable for herder households to maintain average access to the market.

Population movement: Continuing security incidents in the northern and central regions of the country continue to cause population displacement in search of safer areas. At the end of April, the number of displaced persons was 372,266, an increase of 11.8 percent from December (Displacement Tracking Matrix [DTM] Report, April 2021). At the same time, the tentative return of refugees and some displaced persons on the basis of negotiations and agreements between communities continues, with the support of the government and humanitarian agencies. The regions with the highest numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are Mopti (155,354 IDPs), Gao (86,155 IDPs), and Tombouctou (56,519 IDPs). Most of these displaced persons, whose livelihoods have deteriorated significantly, rely on donations from host communities for food, and 66 percent of households received humanitarian assistance (DTM Report, April 2021).

Security situation: Security incidents continue to be recorded in the central and northern areas of the country and the northern areas of the Ségou and Koulikoro regions.  They are marked by the continued intensification of military operations, armed attacks, clashes between armed groups, targeted killings, and the planting of explosive devices. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of incidents in May was down 2 percent from the previous month. From January to the end of May 2021, 399 security incidents (up 19.5 percent from the 2020 monthly average) resulting in 841 deaths were recorded, with the month of May alone accounting for 24.8 percent of this total. Despite a decline in the number of security incidents in some areas, they continue to disrupt the movement of people and goods and the regular functioning of markets, particularly in the area along the Burkina Faso border.

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on households: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread though a downward trend is noted in the number of new cases recently.  As of June 14, 2021, the cumulative number of positive cases is 14,350 for a positivity rate of 4.6 percent. Awareness raising for following restrictions and the vaccination campaign that started in April are ongoing. Economic activities (trade, hospitality, transportation, restaurants, businesses, etc.) continue to suffer the consequences of the health crisis, even though an improvement has been observed compared to the first few months. At the national level, as of March 2021, 11.1 percent of households are experiencing reduced income related to the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 44.1 percent in February and 43.8 percent in January 2021. In Bamako, this proportion is 25.5 percent compared to 67.5 percent in February and 67.8 percent in January (National Institute of Statistics [INSTAT] COVID-19 Impact Report, April 2021). According to the same report, the COVID-19 pandemic was mentioned as a reason for job loss by 2.7 percent of respondents in March, 2.3 percent in February, and 9.4 percent in January. The proportion of households whose income has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is higher in urban areas (14.5 percent and 25.5 percent in Bamako) than in rural areas (7.3 percent). According to the February 2021 National Strategy for Food and Nutrition Security (ENSAN) report, the activities most affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reducing employment and income opportunities for the poor are trade for 62 percent of communities, population movement for 32.4 percent, migrant workers’ remittances for 37 percent, and physical access to markets for 55.5 percent.

The easing of health restrictions both within the country and between bordering countries has mitigated their negative impacts on the population. Additionally, tax breaks and food and cash assistance from the government and humanitarian partners have helped mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hard-hit population.

Nutritional situation: The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is 7.2 percent at the national level, which indicates a precarious situation with an exacerbation of the situation in the Timbuktu region, which has recorded a high prevalence of 14.9 percent. The usual decline in the nutritional situation is observed due to difficulties accessing food during the lean season, particularly for poor households, which are experiencing early stock depletion, and limited access to milk and dairy products for pastoral households. Screening and nutritional recovery programs are continuing throughout the country with the support of partners. As of the 22nd week of 2021, cumulative GAM admissions are slightly higher than in 2020 for the same period (4,865 cases in 2021 versus 4,836 in 2020).

Food security results: Cereals are generally available in the country thanks to average to good agricultural production last season. Trends in cereal prices that are near or slightly above average allow most households to access food with little difficulty from income derived from their usual activities. As a result, most households are experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity.

In the central and northern conflict areas of the country, poor households are experiencing significant drops in income due to the combined effects of insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities in the area, which is preventing adequate food access. This is particularly true for displaced households whose livelihoods have declined significantly. According to an Outcome Analysis conducted by FEWS NET in May 2021, early stock depletion due to reduced production is causing poor households in these areas to adopt atypical coping strategies such as reducing their spending, borrowing, and selling property to meet their food and non-food needs. Poor households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity due to the deterioration of already poor food consumption for most households and their inability to adequately meet their food and non-food needs. Global acute malnutrition, which is precarious according to the December 2021 Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition (SMART) survey in the post-harvest period, is expected to exceed 10 percent as usual during this lean season, particularly in insecure areas where access to basic social services and humanitarian assistance remains limited.

Also, the drop in income related to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities, particularly in urban centers and in areas that depend on migrant remittances, especially in the Kayes and Koulikoro regions, has reduced the ability of poor households in these areas to adequately meet their food and non-food needs. As a result, they are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

Assumptions

The most likely scenario for food security from June 2021 to January 2022 is based on fundamental assumptions, in relation to the changing national context, which are:

  • Rainfall/flooding: The consensus forecasts of the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and the Seasonal Forecasts for Sudano-Sahelian Africa (PRESASS) for May 2021 indicate a high probability of normal to surplus cumulative rainfall in Mali, particularly in the southern and central areas of the country where a surplus is expected. The same is true for the various rivers serving Mali in the Niger and Senegal river basins, where average to above-average runoff is expected from June to October 2021.
  • Flooding: The forecast for normal to above-average cumulative rainfall and average to above-average runoff expected across the country increases the risk of flooding, particularly in the river strip, along waterways, and in urban centers.
  • Locust invasion: According to the May 2021 FAO Desert Locust Bulletin, small-scale breeding is expected due to the rains recorded in the usual breeding areas in the Adrar des Iforas. Given the current conditions, especially those favorable to the maintenance of desert locusts in areas of concern (Arabia, East Africa, Sudan), a large-scale locust invasion in the Sahel is unlikely at this time, though not improbable.
  • Agricultural production: Favorable seasonal forecasts for climatic factors (rainfall, flooding), the continuation of the national agricultural input subsidy program (seeds, fertilizers), and agricultural input assistance, particularly in the northern regions from the FAO, the ICRC, and other NGOs as part of resilience building, point to average to above-average cereal production in the country in October 2021. However, localized decreases in production are expected due to conflicts in Liptako Gourma and flooding throughout the country.
  • Animal production: The onset of rains, which are expected to be normal to surplus, will promote the replenishment of pasture and water sources at average to above-average levels across the country. Animal production (such as milk, butter, and meat), which depends on this, will be average overall, reaching its peak in August.
  • Transhumance: The improvement of the breeding conditions will encourage the return of transhumant herds as of June and this will continue in July towards the wintering pastures. The disruptions observed in the conflict zones in the center and north of the country will continue with less impact thanks to improved breeding conditions that will encourage wide dispersal of herds.
  • Food supply to markets: Market supplies will continue to be normal due to increased agricultural production in 2020 and estimated average to above-average stock levels, although there will be occasional flow disruptions in conflict areas in the central and northern parts of the country. The June off-season crop harvests and Mali Office of Agricultural Products (OPAM) intervention sales in the northern regions and in the western Sahel area of Kayes and Koulikoro will improve the country’s cereal supplies. Average harvests expected from October onward will, as usual, improve market supplies of foodstuffs by an average to above-average amount until January 2022.
  • Basic food prices: The overall near to above-average trend in basic cereal prices on the markets is expected to continue from June to August. From September onward, the expected average to above-average harvests will lead to a seasonal decline in prices, which will be near average. For imported commodities, tax exemptions by the government will limit the increase and keep prices at an average to slightly above average level.
  • Livestock prices: The trend of near to above-average livestock prices will continue, thanks to the recovery of breeding conditions that are conducive to an increase of livestock fattening and the demand for the Tabaski holiday. In addition, the recovery of exports to neighboring countries, although weak compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, will help to maintain this trend. However, market dysfunction in the insecure northern and central areas of the country will reduce prices below average in these areas throughout the scenario period. 
  • Humanitarian assistance: The national response plan’s food assistance for the agropastoral lean season from June to September 2021 provides monthly food assistance covering 2,100 kcal, primarily in the form of cash, to 1,369,405 people throughout the country. In addition to food assistance, resilience-building activities (including equipment, agricultural inputs, and income-generating activities [IGAs]) are also planned throughout the country. However, difficulties in mobilizing funds as well as humanitarian access in certain insecure areas may limit the impact of this assistance in conflict areas.
  • Institutional stock replenishment: Institutional purchases of 40,000 tons of cereals, which are continuing outside of the usual period, are not expected to have a major impact on market supplies and food prices, given the high level of stocks in the markets and the fact that suppliers have already been preparing for this through stock replenishment since last year.
  • Migration: The usual return of able-bodied people will continue as the new growing season gets underway. The average to below-average resources brought back in June or sent during migration will allow households to improve their market access, particularly in areas of declining agricultural production and conflict areas where departures have been earlier and more extensive than usual. From September onwards, there will be the usual departures of able-bodied people to urban centers in the country and neighboring countries, despite the restrictions on movement between countries, though they are being relaxed.
  • Fishing: Fishing catches will experience their usual decline due to the return of fishermen to their original camps and the resumption of flooding from June onwards on the rivers and the onset of the new growing season. The average to above-average runoff expected according to the seasonal forecasts (PRESASS) is favorable for an average to above-average fishing season starting in November 2021.
  • COVID-19 impact: Despite the improvement over 2020, economic activities continue to suffer from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with below-average incomes particularly for the tourism, trade, and migration sectors. The gradual decline in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods is expected to continue until January 2022 as restrictions are gradually lifted and vaccinations are underway in the various countries.
  • Security situation and population movement: The security situation will remain volatile throughout the scenario period despite ongoing negotiations between the different communities. Armed attacks, the planting of explosive devices, and joint military offensives in the tri-border area (Liptako Gourma) and currently in the northern part of the Ségou region will continue to cause atypical population displacements and disrupt the economic environment.
  • Socio-political situation: The elections scheduled for October 2021 to March 2022 amid a toxic climate between the main actors (military in power, political parties, and civil society), in addition to the still-latent social discontent of the unions, will lead to protests that will increase socio-political instability and even cause major disruptions in the socio-economic environment.
  • Nutritional situation: The usual decline of the nutritional situation due to the early agropastoral lean season in insecure areas, poor households’ difficulties accessing food, and the high prevalence of diseases such as malaria and diarrhea will continue until September. Despite the expected decline, the prevalence is not expected to be significantly different from the median of the last five years of SMART lean season surveys, which stands at 10.7 percent. However, a decline above the median will be observed in insecure areas where difficulties in accessing food and basic social services are observed. Beginning in July/August, the availability of milk and dairy products and the food assistance that will be provided will limit the decline of the nutritional situation, particularly in areas where screening and nutritional recovery programs are ongoing.

Most likely food security outcomes

The Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity currently experienced by most households in the country is expected to continue, thanks to the overall average food availability in the country and the trend in prices of basic foodstuffs, which will allow most households to access food with little difficulty using income derived from their usual activities. With the usual decline in food consumption due to the agropastoral lean season caused by the gradual depletion of poor households’ stocks, the rise in basic foodstuff prices will continue until September. The poor or borderline food consumption score is expected to be similar to September’s five-year average of 18.8 percent. Average availability of green crops beginning in September and main crops from October to January, which will result in the expected decline in October prices, will improve household food access. As a result, most households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from June to January 2022.

Also, decreased income due to the combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the insecurity situation will negatively affect poor households’ ability to meet their food and non-food needs, particularly in urban centers, areas dependent on migrant remittances, and insecure areas in the northern regions that are suffering from the after-effects of the disruption of economic activities due to volatile insecurity. As a result, these households will continue to resort to atypical strategies of reducing non-food spending and increasing labor to meet their food needs. Consequently, these households unable to meet their non-food needs will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity until September, which will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity due to harvests and lower food prices from October to January 2022.

Poor households with severely degraded livelihoods in insecure northern and central areas, particularly in the Liptako Gourma area, have moderate to severe difficulties accessing food due to declining agricultural production and loss of assets and income as a result of persistent insecurity. According to the FEWS NET Outcome Analysis, poor households in the Ménaka area and in the Bankass and Koro cercles cannot meet their food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies. Reduced meal volume and quality and difficulties accessing basic social services will contribute to a decline in the nutritional situation to an above-average extent for the area from June to September. As a result, poor households in the reported areas, unable to meet their food needs, will experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity from June to September 2021 without significant humanitarian assistance. The same will be true for displaced households facing destitute conditions. In contrast, during the period from October to January 2022, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity as crops become available.  

Events that could change the scenario

Area  

Events   

Impact on food security conditions  

 

 

 

 

 

National

Upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country and/or in neighboring and migrant-receiving countries 

The tightening of restrictions in the country and in neighboring countries due to the upsurge in COVID-19 cases will further impact economic activities that are still suffering from the aftermath of this pandemic. The resulting decline in income will limit poor households’ ability to meet their food and non-food needs.  

Socio-political disputes that may arise from poor governance and the organization of elections during the transition 

The socio-political unrest that will result from poor governance and election-related disputes will lead to economic disruption, reduced partner contributions, and even isolation of the country. Alongside the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will further disrupt an already weakened economy and limit the government’s ability to respond to mounting social demands, thereby increasing poor households’ vulnerability.    

National (Office du Niger areas, cotton area, western Sahel,

Gao and

Timbuktu river strip)

Crop pest damage from September to November

Severe damage by pests (granivorous birds, caterpillars) on maturing crops from September to October will reduce cereal availability in the indicated agricultural areas. Reduced availability and higher prices for staple foods will reduce poor households’ access to foodstuffs and farming households’ income.

 

Northern Mali 

(zones 2, 3, 4),

Center,

Sahelian strip 

(zone 13)

Delayed start of the rains,

significant deficit, and early end of the rains.

The delayed start of the rains will extend the pastoral lean season in the northern regions, which may result in physiological misery with a significant drop in animal production and above-average mortality. The same will be true for a rainfall deficit from June to September and an early end of the rains in early September, which will contribute to lower yields; this could limit poorer households’ market access.

About Scenario Development

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

About FEWS NET

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