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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will persist during the lean season in Ménaka

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mali
  • June 2023 - January 2024
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will persist during the lean season in Ménaka

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern
  • Other Areas of Concern
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the districts of Bankass, Koro, Douentza, Rharous, and Ansongo will continue through September 2023 due to the early depletion of stocks, high food prices, and the deterioration of livelihoods as a result of the impacts of insecurity. In Ménaka, the depletion of productive assets, atypical livestock sales, and very limited access to other sources of income point to a deterioration in food insecurity to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) from June to September 2023, particularly for poor households in inaccessible areas.

    • The 2023-2024 agricultural season is underway across the country with field preparation, transportation of fertilizer, ploughing, and sowing activities in the south of the country, with average income and food sources for poor households. Normal to surplus rainfall is expected, and the government's continued subsidy on agricultural inputs favors average to above average grain production in most of the major agricultural production zones. However, in insecure areas, disruptions to agropastoral activities will reduce sowing.

    • Poor households' access to food is lower than normal in the country due to early stock depletion, a deterioration in the terms of trade between livestock and grains for livestock farmers, and the overall drop in income, particularly in the insecure areas of the center and north of the country. In these insecure areas, poor households resort atypically to borrowing while reducing non-food expenditure to meet their food needs.

    • The security situation remains volatile in the Ménaka, Gao, and Mopti regions, with an increasing number of security incidents and reprisals against civilians by armed groups, leading to atypical population displacement and disruptions to economic activities, or even inaccessibility to certain areas. The resulting deterioration in livelihoods (loss of jobs, theft/looting of goods, and humanitarian access problems) makes poor households more vulnerable to food insecurity. 

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Security situation: security incidents continue to be recorded in the centre and north of the country, as well as in the northern regions of Ségou and Koulikoro. Other isolated incidents have been reported elsewhere in the country. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), from January to May 2023 there was a 22 percent increase in security incidents in Mali compared with the same period last year. Armed attacks, clashes between armed groups, targeted assassinations, and the planting of explosive devices are persisting and continue to disrupt the movement of people and goods and the regular functioning of markets, particularly in the border strip with Burkina Faso and Niger. The increase in attacks, particularly in the Gao and Ménaka regions, between armed groups involving the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), and the Imghad Tuareg Self-Defense Group and Allies (GATIA), with persecutions of civilians and armed forces, continues to have a negative impact on household economic activities and cause atypical population displacement. 

    Although the number of security incidents is higher due to attacks between different armed groups, insecurity in the Gao and Ménaka regions, mainly attacks on the civilian population, has a greater impact on trade flows, market access, typical livelihood activities, and general economic activity. People in these areas, particularly in the cercles of Tidermène, Andéramboukane, and Inekar, are finding it difficult to access their usual sources of income and food, as well as humanitarian aid. 

    Agropastoral production: Off-season rice harvests are underway in irrigated areas and in the Offices in the Niger river valley from Koulikoro to Gao, improving the local seasonal rice availability. However, difficulties in accessing agricultural inputs (fertilizers, seeds, fuel) due to low availability and soaring prices, as well as reduced planting because of insecurity, particularly in the Office du Niger zone, have reduced harvests compared to an average year. 

    Thanks to the normal to well above normal onset of rainfall as of June 20 in most parts of the country, the current agricultural season has begun favorably. Field preparation, the transportation of fertilizers, ploughing, and sowing underway in the agricultural areas of the south of the country offer average income and food opportunities to poor households during this lean period. However, persistent insecurity in Liptako Gourma and in parts of the north of the Ségou and Koulikoro regions, leading to population displacements and difficulty accessing fertilizers because of their high prices, are reducing sowing prospects. The reduction in acreage reduces opportunities for agricultural employment compared to average. According to key informants, agricultural employment opportunities are below normal this year, particularly for work in the off-season from March to April in Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu.

    Livestock farming conditions have deteriorated sharply in the north and center of the country due to disrupted herd movements caused by insecurity, which have led to an unusual concentration of livestock, particularly in the Gao river valley and in certain localities in Ménaka and Kidal. In the southern areas of the country, rainfall has seasonally regenerated pastures and replenished water points, putting an end to the pastoral lean season and boosting livestock production (milk, butter, cheese). Improved access to animal products (milk, butter, cheese) improves food consumption and income for most livestock farming households. However, in insecure areas, the decline in herd size reduces the availability of dairy products for households. In addition, the livestock vaccination campaign against the main epizootic diseases continues across the country with the support of partners such as FAO and the ICRC, albeit with limited access in certain insecure areas in the north of the country.

    Fishing production: The fishing season is continuing in the usual areas on the Niger and Senegal rivers and at the country's dams and lakes. Overall, fish catches are average to above average across the country. The average income from the sale of fish products improves the purchasing power of fishing households and their diet. In the Niger delta in the Mopti region, insecurity continues to disrupt fishing by restricting access to certain areas, reducing the income of local fishermen and affecting their ability to adequately meet their food and non-food needs.

    Markets functioning and prices: There is a seasonal drop in grain supply in markets nationwide, but it is sufficient to meet consumer demand in most of the country, with the exception of markets in the Ménaka region and in parts of the Gao region (Ansongo, Gao). In the Ménaka region, insecurity, which is causing transporters to halt traffic and making access difficult to secondary markets in Tidermène, Inekar, and Andéramboukane, is significantly reducing food supplies to markets. During the lean season, there is the usual increase in demand, but less than in a normal year in markets in insecure areas as they are being abandoned in favor of more secure markets in the Ségou, Sikasso, and Koulikoro regions; the drop in income is also reducing demand. 

    In the various markets of the regional capitals, the price of staple grains (millet, sorghum, maize) is between 20 and 50 percent above the five-year average due to the rise in the cost of agricultural inputs, the price of transportation linked to that of hydrocarbons, and the strong demand for replenishing stocks from traders and institutions. However, ongoing destocking is increasing supply in order to meet the financial requirements of the current agricultural season, while demand drops due to limited access in insecure areas, causing atypical decreases compared to the previous month in certain production markets in Koro (‑21 percent), Bankass (‑18 percent), and Ségou (-9 percent). 

    The seasonal increase in the supply of livestock is particularly noticeable in the agropastoral areas of the Western Sahel and in parts of the Gao and Ménaka regions, where the difficulties of feeding livestock and protecting their herds from theft/kidnapping are prompting households to sell more. Demand is on the rise, thanks to Tabaski and the need for plough oxen in the country's agricultural areas, but it remains weak in markets in the north of the country where insecurity is limiting wholesalers' access to markets. Livestock prices are up between 18 and 32 percent in the Bourem, Rharous, Gao, and Mopti markets given high demand for the Tabaski festival and average rearing conditions, which are no longer encouraging sales. This rise in livestock prices, which is conducive to average to above-average pastoral incomes, only benefits households that still have livestock and access to markets. However, in the insecure areas of Ménaka and Gao, limited access to markets outside the regional and/or cercle capitals is helping to reduce livestock prices by between 3 and 15 percent for households that do not have access to functional markets. The terms of trade between goats and grains remain below the five-year average (Figure 1), due to the high staple grain prices, which reduces access to markets for poor pastoral households.

    Figure 1

    Trends in terms of trade for goat/millet in kg/head in May 2023
    Tendances des termes de l’échange chèvre/mil en kg/tête en mai 2023

    Source: Calculs de FEWS NET à partir des données de l’Observatoire du marchés agricole (OMA) et du Système d’alerte précoce (SAP), Mali

    Population movement: Seasonal agricultural labor is available for the current agricultural season in production areas, but remains low in volatile, insecure areas in the center and north of the country, reducing local employment opportunities. Atypical population displacements persist due to continual security incidents, particularly in the Gao and Ménaka regions on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger where clashes between armed groups and intensified military offensives have been observed. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the end of April was 375,539, a decrease of 9 percent compared to December 2022 (DTM report, April 2023). Simultaneously, the tentative return of refugees and displaced individuals is facilitated by community-driven negotiations and agreements with support from the government and humanitarian organizations. The largest number of IPDs in the country are in the regions of Bandiagara (82,005), Mopti (73,242), Timbuktu (49,953), Gao (40,347), and Ménaka (38,804). According to the DTM report, the main concerns of the IDPs—most of whom are experiencing a sharp deterioration in their livelihoods—are food (95 percent) and shelter (60 percent). 

    Humanitarian food assistance and livelihood support: Humanitarian support in the form of food and non-food items from the government and its various partners is continuing, mainly for poor households and IDPs as part of the rapid response mechanism. From January to April 2023, according to the Food Security Cluster, 532,463 people, including 22,335 IDPs, received monthly food assistance, mainly in the form of vouchers, covering at least 50 percent of their needs. In the Ménaka region, where the food situation is extremely concerning, 49,445 people, or 59.1 percent of the region's population, received food assistance between January and April 2023, mainly concentrated in the town of Ménaka, which receives most of the region's displaced people. At the same time, the 1,104,965 people who benefited from livelihood support (fertilizers, seeds, livestock feed, small-scale equipment, and veterinary care) provided by FAO, the ICRC, and other partners consisted of poor households in insecure areas in the center and north of the country. 


    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Most farming households in the south, which are observing the typical depletion of stocks given the average to good harvests in the country, are experiencing a normal duration to the lean season yet this year is more severe than in a normal year. However, near-average income from typical agricultural and non-agricultural labor activities, along with income from migration, mean that households can access markets for their food supplies. As a result, they are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, the effects of the global economic crisis and persistent insecurity on the country's economic activities, and high food prices have reduced poor households' ability to access food, particularly in the insecure areas of the center and north, and caused an overall drop in income. Poor households in the country's agropastoral zones who have experienced a drop in production, but who do not account for 20 percent of the population, and those in urban centers who cannot meet their food and non-food needs without resorting to atypical borrowing in kind or in cash, or reducing essential non-food or even food expenditure, are currently experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    In conflict zones in the center and north, the sharp deterioration in livelihoods due to the disruption of economic activities, theft/kidnapping of goods/livestock, job losses, and very high food prices have made it difficult for poor households to access food. Households that resort to reducing the quantity and number of meals, as well as assistance from relatives/friends and humanitarian agencies, show a more pronounced deterioration in food consumption than in an average year. As a result, poor households in these conflict zones, who are more dependent than usual on markets due to the early exhaustion of their own production, are currently experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. The same applies to displaced households in these areas, who find themselves in a state of distress and need assistance to avoid moving into an emergency situation. According to REACH, in the Ménaka region, the sharp deterioration in most households’ livelihoods, as well as the lack of access to food for households in inaccessible areas of the region, is leading to huge consumption gaps. As a result, households that use negative coping strategies to reduce consumption gaps and do not have access to humanitarian assistance are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The difficulties poor households face in accessing food during the lean season, more than in an average year, means that they are increasingly resorting to coping strategies focused on reducing the quality, quantity, and even number of meals. The nutritional situation is deteriorating as usual due to the deterioration in hygiene conditions and the high prevalence of diseases linked to the rainy season (diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections). In addition, more limited food access than average for poor households during the lean season will further deteriorate their nutritional situation, more than in a normal year. This deterioration is more marked in insecure areas where access to basic social services and nutrition programs remains limited, especially for displaced households who no longer have access to the usual sources of income and food. According to the SMART rapid nutrition survey conducted in March 2023, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) is Alert in the cercles of Bankass, Gao, and Nioro (between 5 and 8 percent), Serious in Diéma (10.4 percent), and Critical in Ansongo (19.7 percent, including 4.8 percent SAM). The nutritional situation is very critical at all IDP sites, with very high GAM prevalences exceeding the 15 percent threshold, as in Gao (15.1 percent), Bamako (16 percent), San (18.2 percent), and Ménaka (26.9 percent, including 8.2 percent SAM). Screening and nutritional recovery programs are continuing across the country with the support of partners, but to a limited extent in insecure areas.

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

    Source: FEWS NET


    The most likely scenario from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Security situation and population movement: Security incidents will continue from June to January 2024 in the Liptako Gourma area, particularly in the Ménaka region, where disturbances will remain at a high level due to conflicts between armed groups fighting for control of the region. The number of clashes followed by violence against civilians is expected to fall during the winter season from July to October 2023, with a subsequent reduction in population displacements. In some localities in the center and north of the country, thanks to the ongoing negotiations between the various communities, which will continue, and the military operations underway, a reduction in the number of incidents is expected in this area. The end of the rainy season, which favors movement, will contribute to raising the level of attacks compared to July/September, but will be lower or similar to the level in 2022. The political environment will become increasingly turbulent starting in June up to January 2024 as election activities get underway. Protests and conflicts led by specific political factions and civil society organizations will disrupt national peace.

    • Rainfall/flooding: Concurring forecasts by NOAAIRI, Mali Météo, and PRESASS for April 2023 indicate a high probability of normal to surplus cumulative rainfall in Mali from June to August 2023 and average to surplus from July to September 2023. The normal to early onset of the rains signals a timely start to the agropastoral calendar in the country, according to the same forecasts. Run-off from the country's rivers (the Niger and Senegal basins) will be above average from June to October 2023 in the Niger basin, and normal to above normal in the Senegal basin, thanks to the average to surplus rainfall expected.

    Figure 2

    Probability of precipitation from July to September 2023
    Probabilité de précipitation de juillet à septembre 2023

    Source: NOAA

    • Flooding: Forecasts of normal to above-average cumulative rainfall imply a high risk of flooding from May to September 2023, particularly in low-lying areas and the River Niger valley, where above-average runoff is expected, resulting in loss of property and agricultural production.

    • Agricultural production: Favorable seasonal forecasts for rainfall and flooding along with a relative lull in incidence of pests are conducive to average to above-average agricultural production in the country. However, the low availability and high agricultural input prices (chemical fertilizers), which are more than 40 percent above average, will limit producers' access to them. Production is likely to drop below the five-year average, particularly in irrigated crop areas (rice), which are principal users of fertilizers. Agropastoral activities and atypical population displacement in insecure areas, particularly in Liptako Gourma, will continue to be negatively impacted.

    • Livestock production: Conditions for livestock rearing will return to normal with the onset of rains starting in June in the southern part of the country and in July in the center and north of the country. This will contribute to the resumption of livestock production (milk, butter, cheese) through January 2024. Improved livestock production and fatter livestock will help improve pastoral households’ food consumption and income. The availability of crop residues will improve livestock feed beginning in October 2023.

    • Fishing: The resumption of flooding on rivers from June to October will cause fish catches to seasonally drop. According to the seasonal forecasts (PRESASS), average to above-average flow levels expected in rivers will favor satisfactory reproduction of fish species given the expected good levels of flooding in fish breeding areas. As a result, the outlook for the next fishing year starting in November 2023 is average to above average overall.
    • Food supplies to markets: Grain supplies to markets will continue normally from June to January 2024, except in the insecure areas of the center and north, where huge disruptions to flows have been observed and could even lead to temporary stock shortages. Access difficulties, also linked to seasonal climatic conditions, will exacerbate the drop in grain flows from July to August, which will remain below average, especially in conflict zones. The harvest of off-season crops in June and subsidized sales by the Office des Produits Agricoles du Mali (OPAM) in the Timbuktu, Gao, Koulikoro, and Kayes regions will improve grain supplies before the major harvests expected beginning in October. The seasonal rise in supply will begin as new harvests improve food availability.

    • Staple food prices: The trend in grain prices, which are higher than the five-year average, will continue from June to January 2024 because of the anticipated drop in supply in markets, the rise in production and transportation costs, and the difficult economic situation in the country. The expected average to above-average grain harvests will lead to a seasonal decline in prices from October 2023 on, although prices will remain above average. For manufactured and imported foods, the upward price trend will also continue, in line with the international market and transaction costs.

    • Livestock prices: The trend of above average livestock prices will continue from the increased demand in connection with the Tabaski festival and the forthcoming recovery in breeding conditions beginning in June/July following the onset of the rains. However, in certain remote markets in the insecure northern areas of the Ségou, Koulikoro, Gao, Mopti, and Ménaka regions where demand is low due to limited market access, below average prices will be observed. 

    • Migration: The arrival of the rains will bring migrant workers back to resume the current agricultural season’s activities from June to July. The average to below-average resources reported in June or sent during the stay to host areas in urban centers and neighboring countries will enable households to improve their access to markets, particularly in areas of reduced agricultural production and in conflict zones where departures have been earlier and more large-scale than usual. However, the persistent security incidents and continuing population displacement are not conducive to the normal return of migrants to conflict zones. Starting in September/October, typical labor migration to the country's urban centers, neighboring countries, and also to gold-mining areas—the preferred types of labor—will be observed.
    • Humanitarian assistance: For the agropastoral lean season from June to September 2023, the national response plan provides monthly food assistance, mainly in the form of vouchers, covering at least 50 percent of caloric needs for 1,175,983 people throughout the country. However, the low level of funding from the government and humanitarian partners, along with constrained humanitarian access from insecurity in certain areas of the country will limit food access for people in need and reduce the impact of aid.


    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    Most households have their usual access to food given average levels of food and income sources from last season's average to good harvests. The typical seasonal deterioration in food consumption during the agropastoral lean season and the gradual depletion of poor households' stocks, with staple food prices well above the five-year average, will continue through September. The deterioration in food consumption will be more pronounced for households in areas that experienced poor agricultural production in 2022/23, and in urban centers that are still suffering from the repercussions of high inflation. Poor households will be resorting to atypical intensification of agricultural labor, dependence on migration, especially from June to September, and loans and the sale of livestock to meet their food needs, particularly in areas where stocks have been depleted early due to last year's drop in agricultural production. As a result, the current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in these areas will continue until September. The average availability of green harvests from September onwards, the main harvests from October to January, and the expected seasonal decline in prices beginning in October will improve household access to food. As a result, most households in the country will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from October to January 2024. 

    In the insecure areas of the center and north of the country, particularly in the Liptako Gourma region, poor households whose livelihoods have notably deteriorated are experiencing moderate to severe difficulty accessing their usual sources of food and income. These poor households, mainly in the cercles of Bankass, Gao, Ansongo, Douentza, and Koro, atypically reduce non-food expenditures, atypically sell livestock, and use in-kind and cash loans to meet their food needs. These coping strategies to access food and basic social services will further worsen the already concerning nutritional situation in these areas, particularly in Ansongo (19.7 percent GAM), according to the March 2023 SMART rapid nutrition survey. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in these areas will continue through September 2023. From October onwards, the availability of harvests, harvested products, and dairy products, as well as the seasonal fall in prices, will help to improve food access for households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from October to January 2024. In the Ménaka region, households resort to crisis or emergency strategies such as selling productive assets, begging, selling the last female livestock, or migrating their entire household. In this region, humanitarian access remains a challenge, particularly in inaccessible areas, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity is expected from June to September and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity from October to January 2024.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario.
    ZoneEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalDelayed onset of rains, a significant deficit and early cessation of rains

    A delay in the onset of the rains will prolong the pastoral lean season, with a significant reduction in livestock production and higher than average livestock mortality, which will adversely affect pastoral households' ability to access food. The same will apply to a shortfall in rainfall from June to September and an early end to the rains at the beginning of September, which will reduce crop yields and lead to the retention of stocks and a rise in grain prices. As a result, poor households will have difficulty accessing food, particularly in pastoral areas, with an increase in the number of people experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Significant improvement in the security situation in the country

    A significant improvement in the security situation in the country would contribute to the resumption of economic activities, good market supplies, the rebuilding of livelihoods in insecure areas, and better access to humanitarian aid for populations in need. As a result, the Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) situation in insecure areas would improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    National (Office of Niger areas, the western Sahel, Gao river strip, and Timbuktu) 

    Crop pest damage from August to November

    Severe damage to ripening crops (granivorous birds and caterpillars, among others) from September to October will reduce grain supplies in the agricultural areas mentioned. The reduced availability and higher prices of staple foods resulting from the retention of stocks will reduce poor households' access to food, making it more difficult for them to access markets. As a result, poor households will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity rather than the Minimal expected.

    Central and Northern Mali (ML01, ML02, ML04, ML09, ML13)Difficulties in implementing the planned food assistance

    If the levels of conflict increase more than expected in the central and northern areas of the country, the implementation of food/humanitarian assistance will become even more irregular and limited. The inability of humanitarian partners to access households in need in insecure areas will lead to growing food consumption shortfalls, which will encourage the use of increasingly negative coping strategies. More households would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4), particularly in the Ménaka area. 

    Areas of Concern

    Ménaka/Livelihood zone ML01 (Nomadism and trans-Saharan trade), ML02 (Northern livestock farming), and ML04 (Livestock, millet, and remittances in the center of the country) (Figure 3).

    Figure 3

    Reference map for area of concern : Ménaka Region
    Carte de référence pour la zone concernée :   Région de Ménaka

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    Security situation/population movements: Confrontations between armed groups and persecution of civilians are continuing in the region, leading to atypical population movements towards the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane and also towards Ansongo in the Gao region. According to ACLED, the number of incidents between January 1 and May 31, 2023 was down 21.1 percent compared to the same period in 2022 in Ménaka due to the domination of the ISGS over the other armed groups, which has reduced confrontations. However, persecution of the civilian population continues. At the end of April, the number of displaced people was estimated at 38,804, compared with 30,928 in December 2022, representing 46.4 percent of the region's population, according to the DTM report. According to key informants, population groups exceeding 20 percent of the population are forced to remain in inaccessible areas, particularly in the communes of Inékar and Andéramboukane, due to a lack of transportation or fear of reprisals on route. Major disruptions to economic activities, and even stoppages, are exposing populations to food insecurity, especially as humanitarian access is very limited. 

    Changes in livelihoods: According to ENSAN (February 2023), the deterioration in livelihoods as a result of major disruptions, including the cessation of economic activities in some areas, and the theft/kidnapping of goods and livestock, affects almost 34 percent of households in accessible areas of the region. Atypical population movements are having a significant impact on households' ability to access their usual sources of income and food, and even humanitarian aid outside the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane. Households are unusually dependent on remittances from migrants, in-kind/cash loans, local solidarity, and humanitarian assistance to meet their food needs. Humanitarian aid is the second main source of food supplies after purchases for 31.4 percent of households according to ENSAN in February 2023. The larger-than-usual sale of livestock, particularly small ruminants, for those poor people who still have them, is generating well below average income, due to the decline in livestock capital and prices, particularly for households in inaccessible areas that have no access to markets and are resorting to emergency sales. Atypical recourse to begging to satisfy their food needs, particularly for displaced households and also for poor resident households, is increasingly observed in host areas. According to ENSAN (February 2023), 18.4 percent of households surveyed in accessible areas had resorted to begging to meet their food needs. This figure is much higher in inaccessible areas where the main economic activities, such as livestock sales, trade, and labor, are very limited or temporarily unavailable. In addition, market disruption has reduced transportation, brokerage, and petty trade activities to below-average levels. The presence of displaced people at sites in and around the town of Ménaka, with precarious livelihoods, is exacerbating the pressure on the meagre employment opportunities and pastoral resources and on the host community in this difficult economic context.

    Agropastoral production: Agropastoral activity is low at the moment due to the volatile security environment and the massive displacement of populations and is limited to preparations for the current agricultural season, which means that available farming land is not being fully exploited. Livestock production (milk, butter, cheese) is well below average due to the significant reduction in the number of livestock, or lack thereof as a result of excessive sales, theft/kidnapping, and also due to feeding difficulties in the heavily degraded pastures in accessible areas (Ménaka, Tidermène, Kidal) where unusual concentrations of livestock have been observed. The body condition of livestock is deteriorating as usual, but more so than in an average year due to competition for available fodder in the areas where herds are located, reducing the market value of the animals and income from the sale of livestock products.

    Markets: Grain supplies to markets continue to be disrupted by repeated attacks by armed groups and theft on the main roads, leading transporters to reduce or even abandon certain destinations such as Inékar, Tidermène, Andéramboukane, and Bani Bangou in Niger. The supply of food in main markets is much lower than in an average year, and supply disruptions have been reported at markets in areas with limited or no access, such as the communes of Inékar and Andéramboukane. Flows with Algeria for manufactured and imported products (pasta, milk powder, sugar, wheat flour, vegetable oil) as well as with Niger (millet) continue, but at a significantly lower level than normal due to limited movement linked to insecurity. The price of millet is 47 percent higher in Ménaka than the five-year average, which significantly reduces poor households' access to this staple food. Livestock markets also remain disrupted by insecurity. The price of goats, the animal most sold by poor households, was virtually unchanged from the five-year average on the Ménaka market (up 3 percent). However, this average increase in prices does not benefit poor households, which have a limited number of livestock, and 73.8 percent of which have experienced a significant reduction in their income (ENSAN, February 2023) because of theft/snatching, livestock deaths, and excessive sales. In Ménaka, the terms of trade for goats/millet have fallen by 30 percent compared to the five-year average, reducing pastoralist households' access to markets.

    Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian support in the form of food and non-food items from the government and various partners is continuing for poor households and displaced persons as part of the rapid response mechanism. Between January and April 2023, according to the Food Security Cluster, 49,445 people, or 59.1 percent of the region's population, received at least one food assistance voucher or cash payment covering at least 60 percent of their caloric needs. However, due to the difficulties of humanitarian access to certain areas that have become inaccessible, aid has focused on the town of Ménaka, which is home to most of the region's displaced persons, with 43,157 people in need of assistance for a target population of 20,514. In the Andéramboukane commune, 37 percent of people in need received at least one distribution of food assistance. This proportion is very low in the limited-access communes of Inékar, with 2 percent of targeted beneficiaries reached, and 1 percent in Tidermène. In addition, livelihood support programs (distribution of livestock feed, vaccination of livestock) have targeted 34,292 displaced people and host households, and 14,236 people have benefited from support for income-generating activities (OCHA, May 2023). 



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

    • Security situation/population movement: Clashes between armed groups will continue in the region from June to January 2024. The persecution of civilians and the looting of property, which is reducing access to basic social services and humanitarian aid, will lead to atypical movements of people from the inaccessible areas of Inékar, Andéramboukane, and Ménaka circles to the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane. Military offensives, which will intensify, will intermittently calm the situation without preventing the continuation of abuses against civilians and their property.

    • Market supplies and grain prices: The persistent disruption caused by insecurity on the main roads will continue to reduce the trade flows from June to January 2024, particularly in areas on the border with Niger, where transportation is sometimes interrupted. The price of millet and imported foods will remain well above the five-year average by more than 40 percent at the region's main markets (Ménaka, Andéramboukane, and Inékar), reducing poor households' ability to access markets. 

    • Changes in livelihoods: Reduced economic activity will continue from June to January 2024 due to the persistence of security incidents that significantly restrict the movement of people and goods and the functioning of markets. Access to typical sources of income and food will remain problematic, particularly for households in areas with limited access, where humanitarian access remains very poor. 

    • Humanitarian food assistance: As part of the government's National Response Plan, in collaboration with humanitarian organizations, monthly food assistance covering 2,100 kcal, mainly in the form of vouchers, will be provided from June to September 2023 to 51,298 people (61.4 percent of the region's population), including displaced people. However, the current difficulties of humanitarian access and the low level of assistance funding (15 percent of needs according to OCHA in June 2023) will mean that this assistance cannot be properly implemented outside the towns of Ménaka and Andéramboukane, even though some households will travel to safer areas to better meet their food needs. Alongside food assistance, actions to strengthen resilience through income-generating activities, distribution of small equipment, and even livestock will be carried out during the same period.


    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Difficulties in accessing typical sources of income and food are causing households to reduce the quantity and number of meals compared to an average year, sell productive assets and undergo distress sales of livestock, resulting in major food consumption deficits, particularly for those in inaccessible areas where income opportunities are very limited in the face of very high food prices. Food consumption has deteriorated more sharply than in an average year due to the significant drop in households' ability to access markets. The deterioration in the livelihoods of most households in the region, as well as the lack of food access in more than 20 percent of the region's localities and the drop in incomes, are exacerbating food consumption gaps, particularly for households in inaccessible areas and displaced persons who have no access to humanitarian assistance. Despite the high level of food assistance planned from June to September, the situation is unlikely to improve much, particularly for people in inaccessible areas, due to the low level of funding, the difficulties of humanitarian access, and continuing population displacement. As a result, those households, particularly in inaccessible areas, which are resorting to negative coping strategies to reduce the huge consumption gaps are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, which will continue through September 2023. In the town of Ménaka, which is home to most of the region's displaced people, households are experiencing Crisis! (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity as humanitarian assistance is underway for both displaced persons and resident populations.

    From October to January 2024, food consumption will show a seasonal improvement thanks to the availability, albeit low compared to the average, of harvested products, main crops, and animal products. In addition, continued humanitarian assistance and the seasonal fall in prices, which increases the terms of trade between livestock and grains, will improve household access to food, reducing the need for emergency coping strategies. Mass migration will reduce the pressure on meagre household resources. According to FEWS NET's analysis of the results based on the household economy approach carried out at the end of May 2023, the situation is expected to deteriorate, with poor households representing 37 percent of the area’s total population facing a survival deficit from October to January. However, given the high level of deterioration in livelihoods linked to insecurity, poor households in the region will continue to face difficulties in gaining adequate access to food, particularly for displaced households, which represent 46.4 percent of the region's population. As a result, the current Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity will see an improvement to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October to January 2024. As for the nutritional situation, given the factors hindering food access more so than in 2022—more security-related and economic disruption, major population displacements, and difficulties in accessing humanitarian aid and basic social services—the prevalence of GAM is likely to be higher than in July 2022 (14.0 percent GAM), which was high (Serious) according to WHO standards, particularly for displaced populations for whom the nutritional situation is Critical (26.9 percent GAM) according to the SMART survey from March 2023.

    Other Areas of Concern

    The persistent insecurity in the cercles of Koro, Bankass, Ansongo, Gao, Gourma Rharous, and Douentza continues to result in a deterioration in livelihoods from a significant drop in socioeconomic activities and atypical population displacements. The difficulties poor households face in accessing food in these insecure areas because of the early exhaustion of stocks, and the overall drop in income in the face of high staple food prices, cause them to atypically resort to reducing non-food and food expenditures, borrowing in-kind and cash, and even reducing the volume of meals. Increased reliance on remittances from migrants, atypical livestock sales, intensification of agricultural or non-agricultural labor, increased consumption of wild harvested products, and humanitarian food assistance (which will cover at least 50 percent of household needs) will reduce the need for negative coping strategies. The resulting seasonal deterioration in food consumption will be higher than average, as will the nutritional situation, measured by Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in weight/height, which is already a cause for concern, with Serious (GAM between 10 and 14 percent) or even Critical (15 percent or more) prevalence rates in these areas, particularly in IDP sites, according to the results of the SMART rapid nutrition survey in March 2023. Poor households in these areas, unable to meet their food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies, are therefore experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity, which will continue through September. From October to January 2024, there will be a seasonal improvement in household food access, thanks to the availability of even below-average harvests, livestock production (milk, cheese, butter), harvested products, and in-kind payments for harvesting activities. The seasonal fall in grain prices and employment opportunities will contribute to this improvement. As a result, the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from October to January 2024.

    In other parts of the country, poor households in the western Sahel region of Kayes and Koulikoro, in the Niger River valley, and in urban centers are finding it difficult to access markets because of the rise in staple food prices. These households, which use atypical strategies to reduce non-food expenditures and intensify agricultural and non-agricultural labor activities and borrowing, are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from June to September 2023. From October onwards, with improved household access to food from harvests and lower prices, the current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity, except for households in non-producing urban centers, which will continue to suffer from the impacts of high food prices and lower incomes linked to the consequences of the difficult economic situation.

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

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Mali Food Security Outlook June to January 2024: Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will persist during the lean season in Ménaka.

    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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