Food Security Outlook

Humanitarian assistance is needed to improve household access to food in insecure areas

June 2022 to June 2023

June - September 2022

October 2022 - January 2023

IPC v3.1 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 v3.1 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 v3.1 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 v3.1 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 2022 to 2023 growing season has begun, with rainfall in the south of the country during the first 10 days of June. Despite forecasts of normal to surplus rainfall issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the Regional Climate Outlook Forum for the Sudano-Sahelian Africa (PRESSAS), difficulties in accessing agricultural supplies (fertilizers, seeds), and insecurity will likely result in below-average harvests. Ongoing agricultural activities are providing average income and food opportunities for poor households outside insecure areas.

  • The impact of the economic sanctions imposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Ukrainian crisis continues to adversely affect the country's overall economy through the decline in economic activities and trade, and inflation on food and non-food items. Poor households are finding it difficult to access markets during this lean season because of very high prices compared to the five-year average and terms of trade for livestock and cereals that are unfavorable to livestock farmers in the context of a global decline in income linked, to the repercussions of ECOWAS sanctions and the Ukrainian crisis.

  • The security situation remains volatile and is deteriorating in the Ménaka and Mopti regions, with the increasing number of incidents resulting in the displacement of populations. The resulting deterioration in livelihoods (loss of jobs, theft/looting of goods, etc.) is further increasing the exposure of poor households to food insecurity.

  • Poor households in the insecure areas of the north, the Liptako Gourma area and, to a much greater extent, the Ménaka region will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) because of difficulties accessing food, which will continue until September 2022. Poor households in urban centers, the Western Sahel, and the Niger River Valley are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and will remain so until September 2022 because of the early lean season resulting from the premature depletion of stocks and soaring food prices that have limited their access to food.

NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Current Situation

Agropastoral production: The 2021 and 2022 off-season rice harvests have been below average due to difficulties in accessing agricultural supplies (fertilizer, seeds, fuel) and the reduction in the area planted as a result of insecurity. The harvests are under way in the irrigated areas of the Niger River Valley from Koulikoro to Gao and in lakes and floodplains throughout the country. The rice harvests expected from June/July and the flood recession crop harvests expected from August/September will improve food availability in the areas concerned. The start of the new growing season is under way in the agricultural zones of the south of the country, where rainfall, although deficient in these early days, continues to be recorded. Field clearing, manure hauling, and even sowing offer average income and food opportunities for poor households. However, difficulties in accessing agricultural supplies (fertilizer, seeds) due to the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, which is particularly affecting fertilizer, will reduce the cultivated area and yields for some crops, including cotton, rice, and maize.

Livestock conditions are severely degraded in the high concentration areas of the north and center of the country due to the shortfall in biomass production and disrupted herd movements. In the southern areas of the country, the seasonal improvement of pastures and watering holes is under way thanks to the rainfall that has been recorded. This is alleviating the pastoral lean season for livestock and boosting production of animal products (milk, butter, cheese), contributing to improved food consumption and income for pastoral households. Livestock health is relatively stable. The campaign to vaccinate livestock against the main animal diseases is continuing throughout the country with the support of partners such as the FAO and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Fish production: Fish continue to be caught from rivers and ponds thanks to limited flooding. The lower production, due to the limited flooding last year, provides average income for fishing households given the sharp increase in the price of fish seen observed since March 2022 in the markets. This increases the purchasing power of fishing households, thereby improving their diet. In the Niger Delta, insecurity continues to disrupt this activity by limiting access to some fishing areas, thus reducing fishers' income and consequently their ability to meet their food and non-food needs. Fish farming production continues, increasing the availability of fish.

Market operation and prices: The seasonal decline in cereal supplies has been observed in the country's markets, but is much more pronounced than in a normal year due to the decline in agricultural production during the last growing season, security disruptions that are reducing trade in certain markets — particularly in Liptako Gourma and northern Ségou — and disrupted trade with neighboring countries as a result of ECOWAS and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) sanctions. Availability nonetheless remains sufficient to meet consumption demand overall. In this lean season, demand, including institutional purchases, remains high due to the number of people in need and the delay in making food purchases. In late May, the price of the staple cereal was rising as normal in consumer markets across the country, although a particular decline has been observed in some production markets in Bankass and Ségou, due to ongoing sales to meet the financial needs of the new growing season and as a result of the lack of cotton income in cotton-growing areas. Compared to the five-year average, the price of the staple cereals (millet, sorghum, maize) in the markets in the regional capitals is up 101 percent in Sikasso, 92 percent in Ségou, 90 percent in Mopti, 75 percent in Koulikoro, 67 percent in Kayes, 63 percent in Gao, 55 percent in Toumbouctou, and 5 percent in Kidal. These prices reduce the ability of poor households to access food throughout the country, particularly in insecure areas and areas that have experienced declines in production. As for imported foodstuffs, in addition to reduced supplies, particularly of wheat-based products due to the Ukrainian crisis, prices are continuing to trend upwards as a result of reduced availability in the markets and rising oil prices, which put a strain on transportation. Government-initiated tax exemptions on rice, sugar, and oil imports, as well as food assistance operations planned by the government and its partners, will alleviate households' difficulties in accessing food.

Livestock supply in the markets is below average because of access difficulties in the insecure areas in the center and north of the country, which are the main livestock supply centers in Mali, and the seasonal return of transhumant herds to agricultural areas in the south of the country. The usual increase in supply has nevertheless been observed, particularly in the agropastoral areas of the Western Sahel and in some areas of the north where there are difficulties in feeding livestock. The standard increase in demand for livestock due to Eid al-Adha and working oxen in the agricultural zones of the country. This increase is normal for Eid al-Adha but seasonal for the onset of the rainy season. Livestock prices are up overall. Compared to the five-year average, the price of goats is higher in the pastoral markets that are monitored thanks to a decrease in supply and increased demand in the run-up to Eid al-Adha: an increase of 65 percent in Ménaka, 28 percent in Toumbouctou, 27 percent in Gourma-Rharous, and 22 percent in Nara. This increase is conducive to average to above-average pastoral incomes for households that still have livestock that can be sold at market. Relative to the five-year average, the terms of trade for cereals and goats have deteriorated, due to the surge in staple cereal prices, which have risen by 56 percent in Mopti, 40 percent in Nara, 27 percent in Gourma-Rharous, and 17 percent in Gao and Toumbouctou, reducing the access of poor households to markets. Prices have remained relatively stable in Bourem (+5 percent) and have risen slightly in Ménaka (+13 percent).

Population movement: Population displacements are continuing due to persistent security incidents, particularly in the Liptako Gourma area on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger, where there has been an increase in tension between armed groups and communities and military offensives have intensified. At the end of April, there were 370,548 displaced persons. This number has increased slightly, by 2 percent from February 2022 and by 0.5 percent from April 2021(Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Report, April 2022). At the same time, the tentative return of refugees and some displaced persons on the basis of negotiations and agreements between communities is ongoing, with support from the government and humanitarian agencies. Mopti (170,501 internally displaced persons (IDPs)), Gao (52,338 IDPs), and Toumbouctou (67,839 IDPs) are home to the largest numbers of IDPs in the country. For these displaced persons, most of whom are experiencing a sharp deterioration in their livelihoods, food is a major concern for 97 percent and shelter for 67 percent (DTM Report, April 2022), according to a UN Refugee Agency report.

Security situation: Security incidents continue to be recorded in the central and northern areas of the country and in the northern regions of Ségou and Koulikoro. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), there was a 49.5 percent increase in security incidents in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period last year. This increase is mainly due to the intensification of military operations in the strongholds of armed groups and an increased number of armed attacks, as well as the return of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group as it reclaims territory in the Ménaka region following the departure of French troops, and in the Mopti region. Armed attacks, clashes between armed groups, targeted killings, and the planting of explosive devices continue and have increased the number of deaths by more than 200 percent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. These security incidents continue to disrupt the movement of people and goods and the regular operation of markets, especially in the area around the border with Burkina Faso.

Population movement: Workers are now returning to agricultural zones as normal for the new growing season. In the insecure areas of the center and north of the country and in areas of low production, where an atypical increase in the departure of workers and households has been observed, returns are low. This is creating problems with worker availability in these areas. Population displacement in insecure areas continues, with approximately 370,548 displaced people (Commission on Population Movement (CMP), April 2022), 46 percent of whom live in the Mopti region alone. The number of IDPs due to the resurgence in violence against civilians is expected to increase in the coming months. Throughout the country, Malian refugees are continuing to return from Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.

Impact of ECOWAS sanctions and Russo-Ukrainian crisis on households: The closure of borders between Mali and neighboring countries due to ECOWAS sanctions has significantly reduced the flow of trade, adversely affecting economic activity in the country and prompting a decline in the incomes of households that depend on sectors such as hotels, industry, trade, and construction. The rise in global oil prices and the limited availability of certain foodstuffs (wheat, oil, etc.) and fertilizers due to the Russo-Ukrainian crisis is limiting access to these commodities, especially for poor households. The decline in off-season rice production can be explained by the decrease in cultivated areas due to insecurity and the limited use of high-priced fertilizers following the crisis in Ukraine. These difficulties are exacerbating the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, which continues to impact the national economy by reducing economic activity.

Nutrition: The results of the nutritional survey based on Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) methodology, which was conducted from September to October 2021, show that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is 10.0 percent at the national level, which is high according to World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Prevalence is high in Toumbouctou (10.5 percent) and Gao (13.5 percent), and very high in the Ménaka region (17.9 percent, including 3.9 percent severe acute malnutrition). The usual deterioration in nutrition has been observed because of difficulties in accessing food during the lean season, particularly for poor households due to the early depletion of stocks, the drop in income, and the use of coping strategies such as reducing the quality, portion size, and even number of meals. In addition, there is a higher burden of childhood morbidity, particularly malaria and diarrhea, associated with the onset of the rainy season and poor hygiene and sanitation conditions. The deterioration is more pronounced in insecure areas, especially in displaced households, where access to basic social services and nutrition programs remains limited. Screening and nutritional rehabilitation programs continue throughout the country with the support of partners. During the first 22 weeks of 2022, the number of admissions of children suffering from acute malnutrition (severe and moderate) has seen a slight increase of 5 percent compared to the number of admissions during the same period in 2021 (5,109 cases compared to 4,836 in 2021).

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

The early depletion of stocks resulting from the 10 to 30 percent drop in cereal production in 2021/22 compared to the five-year average, due to climate events and insecurity in the central and northern areas of the country, has led to households depending on markets to a greater extent than usual. The overall decline in incomes currently being experienced as a result of the impact of ECOWAS economic sanctions on the country's economy and trade with neighboring countries has reduced the ability of poor households to access available food at prices more than 40 percent higher than the five-year average. Poor households in agropastoral zones of the country and in urban centers that cannot meet their food and non-food needs without resorting to atypical borrowing in kind or in cash, reduced non-food or even food spending, and the sale of assets are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

In the conflict zones of the center and north, livelihoods are being severely degraded due to continued insecurity and its effects on poorly paid economic activity, theft of goods, loss of jobs, etc. The difficulties poor households face in accessing food due to low incomes and very high food prices are contributing to a deterioration in food consumption that is more pronounced than in an average year, particularly in the Ménaka tri-border area, which is the subject of fighting between armed groups. Households then resort to reducing the volume and number of meals and seeking assistance from relatives/friends and humanitarian agencies. With the complete erosion of livelihood protection and even a substantial shortfall in the means for survival, in addition to the use of negative coping strategies involving the sale of productive assets, poor households are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with a need for assistance in the insecure areas of Ménaka to avoid further deterioration. The same is true for displaced households in these areas, who find themselves destitute and need assistance to avoid entering into an emergency situation.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for June 2022 to January 2023 is based on the following key assumptions about how the national context will develop:

  •  Security situation and population movement: The security situation will remain volatile throughout the scenario period despite ongoing negotiations between the different communities and military offensives targeting terrorist strongholds. Armed attacks between armed groups, particularly in the Ansongo-Ménaka wildlife reserve and in Liptako Gourma, the planting of explosive devices and targeted killings will continue, although the intensity of these attacks is expected to decrease due to weather conditions that will restrict movement. The resulting disruption of agricultural activities and population displacement will weaken socio-economic conditions in the affected areas.
  • Socio-political situation: Mali's transitional government will likely present a new timetable for elections to ECOWAS in the coming months. The impacts of economic and financial sanctions will continue to affect the country's overall economic and financial situation for a long time to come, even if sanctions are eased over the next few months. A resurgence of political protests is likely in Bamako and urban areas of the country over the coming months, as some demonstrators gather to show their support for the transitional government and denounce ECOWAS sanctions.
  • Rainfall/water level: Consensus forecasts from NOAA, IRI Mali-Météo and PRESASS in April 2022 indicate a high probability of normal to surplus cumulative rainfall in Mali from June to August 2022 and average to surplus from July to September 2022. As for rivers in the Niger and Senegal basins, average to above-average runoff is expected from June to October 2022 thanks to the average to surplus rainfall expected.
  • Flooding: The normal to above-average cumulative rainfall and high risk of flooding forecast by PRESASS for May to September 2022 raise fears of moderate to severe damage to crops and equipment in low-lying areas and along rivers throughout the country and in urban areas. The resulting loss of physical assets and agricultural production will have an adverse impact on the livelihoods of poor households.
  • Agricultural production: Favorable seasonal forecasts for climatic factors (rainfall, water level), the continuation of the national program to subsidize agricultural supplies (seeds, fertilizers), and agricultural supply assistance, particularly in the northern regions, from the FAO, the ICRC, and other NGOs as part of efforts to build resilience, are all conducive to average production in the country. However, the current reduced availability of agricultural supplies (fertilizer) due to border closures and the Ukrainian crisis, and the increase in the price of fertilizer by more than 50 percent compared to the usual price, will limit producers' access, especially in areas producing irrigated rice, cotton, and maize. This will reduce production below the five-year average in October 2022, and much more in conflict areas in Liptako Gourma and flooded areas across the country.
  • Animal production/livestock movements: The degraded livestock conditions will be restored seasonally thanks to the timely arrival of rains from June onwards in the southern areas of the country and from July onwards in the central and northern areas of the country. The improvement in livestock conditions will boost the output of animal products (milk, butter, and meat) from June/July to reach a peak in August/September. This will improve food consumption and income in pastoralist households until January due to the availability of pasture and crop residues.
  • Fishing: Fish catches due to the resumption of river flooding will experience their usual decline from June to October. The average to above-average runoff anticipated by seasonal forecasts (PRESASS) is conducive to satisfactory reproduction of fish species as a result of the flooding of fish breeding areas. Consequently, the projections for the next fishing season beginning in November 2022 will overall be in line with or above the five-year average.

Markets and prices

  • Supply of food to markets: The observed seasonal decline in cereal supplies will continue to be more pronounced than in a normal year because of the decline in grain production in 2021 and trade disruptions in the conflict areas in the center and north of the country. June off-season crop harvests and intervention sales by the Office des Produits Agricoles du Mali (Mali Office for Agricultural Products — OPAM) in the northern regions and in the Western Sahel (Kayes and Koulikoro) will improve the country's cereal supply. The average harvests expected from October onwards will, as usual, improve the supply of food to markets by an average to above-average amount until January 2023.
  • Staple food prices: The overall above-average trend in staple cereal prices in the markets is expected to continue from June through September. From October onwards, despite the expected below-average harvests, there will be a seasonal drop in prices, which will still be above average due to the high price of agricultural supplies. For imported commodities, the government's exemption measures will limit the increase and keep prices at an average to slightly above-average level.
  • Livestock prices: The price of livestock, which is similar to or higher than average during this pastoral lean season, will remain stable until January 2023, thanks to demand associated with Eid al-Adha and the recovery of livestock conditions from June/July onwards as the rains begin. The same will be true for small ruminants, which experience the highest demand. Disrupted household access to markets in the insecure areas of northern Ségou, Mopti, and Ménaka, and the willingness of affected households to make emergency sales will reduce livestock prices below average levels in these areas throughout the period.
  • Humanitarian assistance: Food and non-food assistance continues, particularly in conflict areas, thanks to humanitarian partners. For the agropastoral lean season from June to September 2022, the national response plan calls for monthly food assistance comprising at least 50 percent of the full ration, primarily in the form of cash, for 1,840,067 people throughout the country. However, the low level of financial mobilization by the government and the challenges of humanitarian access in the areas concerned may limit the impact of this assistance.
  • Migration: The usual return of migrant workers will continue as the new growing season gets under way. The average to below-average income reported in June or sent during workers' time in the host areas of urban centers and neighboring countries will allow households to improve their access to markets, particularly in areas of declining agricultural production and conflict zones where departures have been earlier and on a larger scale than usual. From September onwards, there will be the usual departures of workers to gold mining sites from urban centers in the country and from neighboring countries, despite the restrictions on movement between countries, which are being relaxed.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

The usual deterioration in food consumption due to the agropastoral lean season, linked to the gradual depletion of poor households' stocks, and the sharp rise in prices of staple foods will continue until September. The poor or borderline food consumption score is expected to be higher than September's five-year average of 18.8 percent. The longer dependence of poor households on markets with declining incomes means that they are adopting atypical coping strategies, including engaging in more agricultural labor, especially during suitable periods, selling livestock, and borrowing. As a result, they will continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September. The average availability of green crops from September, main crops from October to January, and the expected seasonal decline in prices from October onwards will improve household access to food. As a result, most households will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from October to January 2023.

Poor households in insecure northern and central areas, particularly in Liptako Gourma, where livelihoods have significantly deteriorated, have moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food due to early depletion of stocks and declining incomes, as well as a loss of assets resulting from persistent insecurity. According to FEWS NET's Outcome Analysis, poor households in the Ménaka region and in Bankass and Koro are unable to meet their food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies. The reduction in the volume and quality of meals and difficulties in accessing basic social services will contribute to an above-average deterioration in nutrition in the area for the period from June to September. As a result, these areas will continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September 2022. The situation will particularly affect Ménaka, where in the absence of significant humanitarian assistance the situation will worsen. The same will be true for displaced households who are destitute. Starting in October, the availability of crops, wild products, and dairy products, as well as seasonal price declines, will help improve household access to food. As a result, households will move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October to January, with the need for assistance in conflict areas to avoid further deterioration, particularly in the Ménaka area.

Events that Might Change the Outlook

Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.

Zone Events

Impact on food security outcomes

National

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country and/or in neighboring countries or countries hosting migrants

The tightening of restrictions in the country and/or in neighboring countries due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases will further impact the economy, which continues to suffer from the aftermath of this pandemic. The resulting decline in income will limit the ability of poor households to meet their food and non-food needs.

 

Socio-political disputes that may arise as a result of poor governance and the holding of elections during the transition

The socio-political unrest that will result from poor governance and election-related disputes will cause economic disruption, a reduction in donor contributions, and even isolation of the country. This state of affairs, in addition to the harmful effects of COVID-19, will further disrupt an already weakened economy and limit the government's ability to respond to mounting social demands, increasing the vulnerability of poor households.

National (Office du Niger areas, cotton area, Western Sahel, along the river in Gao and Toumbouctou)  

Lifting of ECOWAS and WAEMU sanctions

The lifting of ECOWAS and WAEMU economic sanctions will help to improve trade with neighboring countries, which will revive economic activities in the country and improve income opportunities for households. The resulting lower prices will improve poor households' access to food.

 

Pest damage to crops from September to November

Severe damage by pests (such as grain-eating birds and caterpillars) to maturing crops from September to October will reduce cereal supplies in the indicated agricultural areas. Reduced availability and higher prices for staple foods will diminish poor households' access to food and the income of farming households.

Northern Mali (livelihood zones 2, 3, 4), Centre, Sahel area (zone 13)

Delayed arrival of rains, a significant shortage and an early cessation of rainfall

The delay in the onset of the rains will prolong the pastoral lean season in the northern regions. This may lead to physiological stress, with a significant decline in animal production and higher-than-average mortality. The same will apply to a shortage of rainfall from June to September and an early cessation of rains at the beginning of September, which will contribute to a decrease in yields. This could limit access to markets for poorer households.

 

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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