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Despite ongoing harvest, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in conflict-affected areas of central Mali

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Mali
  • October 2022 - May 2023
Despite ongoing harvest, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) persists in conflict-affected areas of central Mali

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The current Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity will continue from October to May 2023 for most households in the country due to the overall average harvest and seasonal price declines. However, advanced deterioration of household livelihoods in the insecure northern and central areas and high cereal prices will continue to reduce households’ food access, especially in the Ménaka and Gao regions, where increased security incidents and population displacements are observed. Therefore, due to early stock depletion and rising prices, the current Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will worsen to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to May 2023 in the Liptako-Gourma region, while the Ménaka and southern Gao regions will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.

    • In the Liptako-Gourma region, persistent and even intensified insecurity at the Burkina Faso and Niger borders is disrupting economic activities and humanitarian access in the area. This is causing an atypical population displacement, which was estimated at 440,436 people at the end of September 2022. The upward trend in violent attacks will further worsen already precarious household livelihoods in the affected areas, reducing households’ ability to meet their food and non-food needs from October to May 2023.

    • Thanks to good rainfall, average cereal availability is expected in the country with harvests beginning in October. Cereal production is projected to be slightly higher than last year by 16.7 percent and close (+4.8 percent) to the average for the past five years (Rural Development Sector Planning and Statistics Unit [CPS/SDR]). Localized production declines due to flooding or insecurity will reduce food availability in affected areas, especially in the insecure central and northern areas where access to some markets is disrupted.

    • Normal to excess rains have replenished pastures and water sources, resulting in average to good livestock production and providing pastoral households with milk, butter, cheese, and income. These conditions bode well for a normal lean season for herders beginning in April. However, difficulties in accessing some pastures and markets due to insecurity will affect livestock feed in the country’s insecure central and northern areas, which will negatively impact pastoral income.

    • Household cereal access is average overall due to average availability of their own production and lower prices. However, declining household incomes, especially in conflict areas, and high cereal prices compared to the five-year average, which reduce the goat/millet terms of trade, will continue to negatively affect poor households’ food access from April to May 2023.


    Current Situation

    Security situation: The security situation remains volatile in the northern and central regions of the country, as well as in the northern parts of Ségou (the northern Office du Niger area) and Koulikoro (Nara). Attacks on civilians have increased, especially in the Ménaka and Gao regions. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), from January to October 10, 2022, there were 1,409 security incidents, an increase of 29.6 percent compared to the same period in 2021. Armed attacks, clashes between armed groups, robberies, and targeted killings continue to disrupt socio-economic activities in the affected areas through market disruptions, looting, and disruption of agricultural activities. Humanitarian access challenges, coupled with the persistence and resurgence of security incidents, especially along the Niger and Burkina Faso borders, reduce the possibility of assisting households outside of the more secure areas. This further exposes households in these areas to food insecurity. However, the concentration of armed forces in Gao facilitates humanitarian access more than in Ansongo and Ménaka.

    Population movement: According to the September 2022 Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report (“RAPPORT CMP SEPTEMBRE 2022.pdf (“), the number of displaced persons increased by 4.2 percent, to 440,443 from 422,620 in August across the country due to continual security incidents in the northern and central regions and in the Ségou and Koulikoro regions. According to the October 2022 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Situation Report No. 9-12, displacement intensified in the Ménaka region, where 29,500 displaced persons were recorded. A slow return of refugees and some displaced persons is reportedly underway based on negotiations and agreements between communities. It continues with the support of the government and humanitarian agencies. The main causes of population displacement are related to armed conflict, which accounts for 61 percent of displaced persons, while community conflict accounts for 37 percent (DTM, August 2022 report). According to the same report, the urgent needs of these displaced persons were food at 97 percent of the displacement sites, followed by shelter (58 percent), drinking water (39 percent), and health services (24 percent).

    Agricultural production: The current cereal crops in the country are generally average thanks to good rainfall and a decline in crop pests observed during the growing season. According to the Rural Development Sector Planning and Statistics Unit (CPS/SDR), cereal production projections are slightly up by 16.7 percent compared to last year and by 4.8 percent compared to the five-year average. These harvests improve food availability and household food access. However, the decrease in cultivated areas due to insecurity in the Liptako-Gourma region and flooding in the Mopti and Segou river valleys will reduce agricultural production in the areas concerned. Additionally, difficulties in accessing fertilizer for 60.8 percent of the country’s households (FAO, September 2022) and moderate to severe damage to cotton by phloem-feeding insects (Jacobiella facialis) in the regions of Sikasso, Koulikoro, Kita, and Ségou will negatively affect production in the affected areas. Cash and in-kind remuneration from harvesting activities provide average food and income opportunities 

    for poor households, except in localized areas of reduced production, where they will be below average. The off-season market gardening and cereal season, which begins in October, has an average to good outlook thanks to the good availability of water in rivers, dams, and ponds.

    Pastoral situation: Thanks to good rainfall, pasture conditions are generally similar to above average, particularly in the northern and central pastoral areas of the country. Watering conditions are also average on the whole thanks to the average to above-average filling of water reservoirs. All of these conditions combined contribute to good livestock physical conditions, which favors the production of animal products and, consequently, improves the food supply and income of herder households. Transhumant herds are beginning to return for harvest residues in agricultural areas and to permanent water sources in the northern areas of the country, and to the river strip for water grazing along the river. Animal health is relatively stable overall. The annual vaccination campaign is ongoing throughout the country, although there have been some disruptions in the insecure central and northern areas of the country.

    Fishing production: The usual decline in fish catches is observed during this period of high-water levels in the rivers. Catches are low compared to the average due to very high-water levels and security disturbances in the main fishing areas of the inland delta on the Niger River in Mopti and the Tombouctou and Gao regions.

    Market operations and prices: Food availability remains adequate in all markets and is improving as usual for cereals due to the new crops being harvested. The usual increase in supply is less pronounced than in an average year because of low carryover stocks, the need to replenish merchant stocks, and the caution of producers who are limiting destocking in hopes of good prices. In the insecure areas of central and northern Ségou, disrupted access to certain markets is reducing the supply in these areas.

    Seasonal declines in cereal prices are increasingly being observed in production markets due to average cereal production outlooks. Nevertheless, the price of staple cereals (millet, sorghum, maize) on regional capital markets is up 111 percent in Ségou (millet), 110 percent in Ménaka (millet), 91 percent in Koulikoro (millet), 85 percent in Sikasso (maize), 81 percent in Mopti (millet), 64 percent in Kayes (sorghum), 70 percent in Gao (millet), and 47 percent in Timbuktu (millet) compared to the five-year average at the end of September. These prices limit poor households’ staple cereal access. The same is true for imported commodities, whose prices have increased by 10 to 30 percent, particularly for oil (15 to 30 percent) and wheat flour (10 to 25 percent). The continuation of the government’s import exemption program for basic necessities (rice, oil, sugar, and wheat flour) is helping to limit price increases for these products.

    Overall, livestock supply is stable or slightly up from last month. Livestock farmers’ need to replenish their cereal supplies has led to an increase in supply on the production markets, especially since transhumant herds have returned. In the insecure areas, declining demand due to access difficulties has reduced the activity of certain major markets in Mopti (Fatoma and Douentza), Gao (Wabaria, Ansongo, Djebock, and Ménaka), and Timbuktu (Bambara Maoudé and Gossi). Herders use other, more secure markets in the Ségou and Mopti regions and even in neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Niger. Livestock prices are higher than average due to the livestock’s good physical conditions, the reduced supply due to insecurity, and herders’ desire to maintain their purchasing power. The price of goats, which are the animal most sold by poor households to access food, is up 57 percent in Ménaka, 22 percent in Nara and Rharous, 19 percent in Gao, 18 percent in Timbuktu, similar in Mopti, and down 5 percent in Bourem compared to the five-year average. The increase in goat prices, while favorable for improving incomes, does not benefit poor households that are limited in animal capital because of excessive sales and theft/looting. The goat/cereal terms of trade are stable overall, or have improved over the past month in pastoral markets monitored by FEWS NET (Figure 1). Compared to the five-year average, terms of trade are down in all markets due to high cereal prices. The decline is 45 percent in Mopti and Bourem, 38 percent in Rharous, 34 percent in Nara, 30 percent in Gao, and 20 percent in Timbuktu and Ménaka, which reduces herder households’ market access.

    Food access: For most households, the availability of their own produce during the harvest period, donations (zakat), and proceeds from payment in kind during harvest work create food access without great difficulty in agricultural areas. However, in the insecure areas of Gao, Ménaka, and Liptako-Gourma, household food access is limited due to difficulties accessing production and gathering areas, the deterioration of the goat/cereal terms of trade, and population displacement. Above-average prices for basic foods continue to negatively affect poor households’ food access, particularly in urban centers, due to declining incomes because of the difficult overall economic situation and the deterioration of livelihoods in insecure areas. Displaced households are dependent on relatives/friends and on humanitarian assistance through food and non-food distributions covering their minimum requirement of 2,100 kilocalories under the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM).

    Humanitarian assistance:  Food assistance delivery began to decline in October, following the typical trend observed after the start of the harvest. However, it had reached at least 25 percent of the population in many cercles in central and northern Mali over the previous three months (see appendix at the end of this report). According to the Food Security Cluster, from January to September 2022, as part of humanitarian food assistance covering 2,100 kilocalories to food-insecure people across the country, 2,337,603 people, including 308,243 displaced persons, received monthly food assistance, primarily in the form of cash or coupons. Food and non-food assistance continues to be provided to displaced households throughout the country under the RRM. For the same period, 848,203 people also received livelihood support, primarily for animal raising (livestock vaccination) and agricultural production support (agricultural inputs and equipment) from the government and humanitarian partners.

    Overall, food assistance has likely mitigated food consumption gaps among recipients but is insufficient to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in conflict-affected areas. Security constraints limit humanitarian access to populations in need in some areas along the border with Niger and Burkina Faso in the Mopti, Gao, and Ménaka regions.

    Current food security outcomes

    The average availability of new crops, animal products, improved livestock/cereal terms of trade due to the seasonal decline in grain prices, and in-kind payments for harvest work contribute to improved food consumption and overall household income. According to data collected online as part of the joint survey with the WFP (mVAM) across the country in September 2022, 9.9 percent of households have a poor food consumption score, which is up slightly from 7.7 percent in 2021 and close to the harvest period average of 8 percent. With more than 80 percent of surveyed households reporting acceptable food consumption, this indicates Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. Reduced use of atypical coping strategies is observed due to the availability of new crops, continued humanitarian assistance in insecure areas, and the seasonal drop in cereal prices, which have eased food access difficulties. As a result, most households are facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, in the insecure areas of Liptako-Gourma, poor households and displaced persons are unable to meet their food needs without resorting to atypical coping strategies such as reducing non-food expenditures, borrowing in kind or in cash, atypical labor intensification, and reliance on migrants. They will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. Poor households in the border areas with Niger (Ménaka, southern Ansongo), where the resurgence of security incidents has led to significant population displacements and even abandonment of villages, resulting in intense disruption of economic activities and a survival deficit, are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Poor households in urban centers that continue to suffer the effects of high food prices and flood victims who are struggling to restore lost production assets and meet their food needs are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to worse food insecurity.

    The July 2022 SMART survey gives a prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) by weight/height of 10.8 percent of children aged 6 to 59 months, of which 2.1 percent are severe. This prevalence is indicative of “Severe” levels (10-14.9 percent GAM) of acute malnutrition according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The seasonal improvement in household food access and diversification through the availability of crops, animal products (milk, butter, and cheese), and the expected drop in prices will help reduce the prevalence of the July GAM, which corresponds to the lean season. At the end of September 2022, the number of admissions to malnutrition treatment facilities is approximately 10.9 percent higher overall than in 2021 for the same period (206,718 children in 2022 compared to 186,255). Screening and treatment of malnutrition cases continues at operational health facilities. Difficulties in accessing public health services limit treatment in insecure areas.


    The most likely scenario for food security from October 2022 to May 2023 is based on the following fundamental assumptions, in relation to the changing national context:

    • Agricultural production for the season: Cereal production is expected to be generally average in the country thanks to good rainfall during the growing season and a decline in crop pests. However, limited mineral fertilizer access, the decrease in cultivated areas due to insecurity in the center and north of the country, and the loss of acreages due to flooding will result in lower-than-average production in conflict areas (Mopti and Gao regions and parts of Ségou and Koulikoro).
    • Off-season crops: The average to above-average filling of water reservoirs (ponds and flood recession lakes) and the overall above-average flood level on all rivers indicate average to above-average production outlooks. Off-season market gardening harvests will begin to be available in October and will improve household food and income. The same will be true for rice crops in irrigated areas from January to May and flood recession crops from January to March in the Tombouctou, Kayes, Mopti, and Gao regions.
    • Livestock production/movement: Normal to surplus pasture production, crop residues, and the average replenishment of water sources are favorable to good livestock feed and average animal production (milk, butter, and meat) from October to May 2023. The return of transhumant herders beginning in October/November should continue from December to May toward areas with dry season concentration. In the insecure northern areas and in Liptako-Gourma, insecurity-related disruptions will limit the herds’ access to certain pastures, making it difficult to feed the livestock. Consequently, the resulting drop in production and lower prices due to the degradation of livestock physical conditions will reduce pastoral income.
    • Fishing: High-water levels in rivers and streams favor good fish spawning. Production outlooks for the November to May 2023 fishing season are average to above average, and average to below average in the conflict areas of the Inner Niger Delta and in parts of Tombouctou and Gao.
    • Agricultural labor: The main crops from October onward, transportation, and threshing crops will provide average income opportunities, but below average in the Liptako-Gourma region and the Niger Delta, which have experienced production declines. Off-season market gardening, off-season rice cultivation from October to March, and land preparation for the new growing season from April to May will provide overall average labor opportunities for poor households.
    • Non-agricultural labor: The usual non-agricultural labor and petty trade activities from November to May will continue as normal in the country. However, insecurity in the Liptako-Gourma and northern regions and the difficult economic situation, particularly in the country’s urban centers, will limit employment opportunities, resulting in below-average income.
    • Migration: The usual outflow of able-bodied workers in search of resources will continue through February to the country’s major agricultural production areas and to neighboring countries for harvest work. Gold mining sites, which officially opened in October, will be the preferred destinations for many migrants in the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, and Gao. Due to the decline in employment opportunities and the high demand for jobs in host areas, in-kind and cash resources sent by migrants will be below average overall.
    • Cereal prices: The seasonal decline in staple food prices, particularly cereals, from October/November to January 2023 will be less pronounced than in a normal year. The trend in cereal prices, which is higher than the five-year average, will continue from October to May 2023 due to low carryover stocks and projections of significant demand from traders and institutional stocks (Mali Office of Agricultural Products [OPAM], WFP, and NGOs). Additionally, the increased cost of agricultural inputs and the difficult economic situation encouraging producers to maintain their purchasing power will contribute to maintaining the high price trend.
    • Livestock prices: The above-average price trend is expected to continue through April/May due to the usual increased meat demand for the year-end holiday season and also during Ramadan, which will take place in April. The usual decline in breeding conditions from April onward, with worsened livestock physical conditions, will cause a seasonal drop in prices, which will still be similar to or above average, but below average in insecure areas where market disruptions persist.
    • Institutional stock replenishment: Purchases to replenish the National Security Stock, which is practically empty due to its use during the past lean season, will be made from January to March. This will help to increase demand on the markets, which will maintain the upward trend in cereal prices.
    • Security situation: Security incidents will continue despite the intensification of military offensives and ongoing negotiations between the various communities in conflict, particularly in the central, northern, and western areas of the country (ACLED). The placement of explosive devices, clashes between government forces and rebels, and clashes between rival armed groups are expected to continue at a level similar to or greater than that of 2021-2022 in Liptako-Gourma, including the regions of Gao and Ménaka in particular, where intensified attacks have been observed recently.
    • Political situation: Differences of opinion over proceeding with the country’s transition between some political parties and the government will continue from October to May 2023. Criticism and protests will intensify in the coming months, which will be the reform period. It will start with the constitutional amendment expected in March 2023, the draft of which is being criticized by some politicians and corporations. Actions to include all stakeholders in the various reforms supported by the government will help mitigate the protests, but not prevent them. The expected dissenting protests will disturb the peace in the country.
    • Population movement: The upward trend in the number of displaced persons — estimated at 422,620 at the end of August 2022 (Mali, August 2022 DTM Report) — is expected to continue due to continued attacks by armed groups and the intensification of Malian Armed Forces (FAMA) operations, particularly in the tri-border area. At the same time, gradual returns of refugee populations from Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso will continue to be recorded.
    • Impact of the Russo/Ukrainian crisis: Increased hydrocarbon prices on the world market in connection with the Russo/Ukrainian crisis will continue to negatively affect economic activities. The general inflation it generates will reduce household purchasing power, particularly for the poor, who will find it more difficult to meet their food and non-food needs. The government’s reduced ability to support subsidies for basic necessities and to meet social demands will further increase households’ exposure to food insecurity.

    Humanitarian assistance: Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of historical distribution reports, the usual decline in the level of humanitarian food assistance from the government and its partners will be observed from October to January, which coincides with the harvest period. Only ad hoc assistance will be provided to households in need. Food assistance deliveries are expected to increase slowly during the post-harvest period from February to May, reaching at least 25 percent of the population in several cercles in central and northern Mali. Additionally, displaced persons will receive food and non-food assistance under the RRM from October to May, particularly in insecure areas.  However, in the insecure areas of Liptako-Gourma, humanitarian access difficulties related to increased security incidents will negatively affect the implementation of assistance. Access constraints will likely prevent regular delivery of assistance and, as a result, it is unlikely that assistance will reach the conflict-affected population.

    Most likely food security outcomes

    From October to January, improved household food access due to the harvest, albeit low in some areas, proceeds from in-kind and cash payments for harvest work, improved terms of trade for herders, and seasonal declines in food prices will end the lean season for most households in the country. Food diversity and lower use of strategies to reduce the volume and quality of food rations have improved food consumption, which should be close to that of an average year in agropastoral areas. Income from the sale of agricultural products, livestock, and the usual activities of trade labor and petty trade provide households with income to access food without great difficulty. As a result, most households in the country will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity from October 2022 to January 2023. In the insecure parts of Liptako-Gourma and northern parts of the country, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in September will ease into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to improved food access from harvests, gathered products, and seasonally lower cereal prices. However, in the Ménaka region, continued deterioration of livelihoods with a significant deficit in livelihoods or even means of survival, humanitarian access difficulties, and continued population displacement will keep this population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October to January 2023.

    From February to May 2023, early stock depletion due to below-average production in the Liptako-Gourma area will result in poor households being dependent on markets for one to two months longer than usual. The overall decline in income due to the security situation and difficult national circumstances will prevent these households from meeting their food and non-food needs because cereal prices will be more than 50 percent higher than the five-year average, according to the FEWS NET projection. As a result, poor households’ food consumption will decline early, in March instead of June. Consequently, poor households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in Liptako-Gourma, particularly in the cercles of Bankass, Koro, Douentza, and Gourma Rharous, which are experiencing an early lean season amid a difficult economic situation and a sharp decline in livelihoods linked to insecurity, will worsen to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to May 2023. For poor households in the Ménaka region, in addition to the difficulties mentioned above and disruptions in humanitarian assistance, the current Crisis food insecurity will continue until May 2023.

    Declining purchasing power due to overall price inflation of 29.3 percent for food products and 20 percent for all products and services in September 2022, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), coupled with declining income, will continue to reduce households’ market access, particularly in urban centers. The same will be true for households affected by flooding throughout the country due to loss of goods and/or agricultural production. As a result, households unable to meet their food needs without resorting to atypical labor, migration, and reduced food expenditure will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity from October 2022 to May 2023.

    Events that could change the scenario

    Table 1. Possible events in the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario.



    Impact on food security conditions


    Excessive increase in the cost of transporting goods related to the continuous increase in the world price of oil per barrel

    A more substantial increase in hydrocarbon prices will maintain the upward trend in inflation, especially the cost of transportation and consumer products.  This will negatively impact households’ purchasing power/ability to adequately meet their food and non-food needs. The number of poor households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity will therefore increase in terms of population. But it will not reach 20 percent of the population of the area.

    Northern and central Mali

    Upsurge of animal diseases from December to May

    Insecurity disrupts the vaccination campaign in the central and northern regions by limiting veterinarians’ access to certain concentration areas. This would encourage an upsurge of animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, and anthrax (bacterial and symptomatic) in areas of livestock concentration. Resource losses due to mortality and declining animal production will negatively affect farmers’ livestock assets and income. As a result, the number of poor households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity — and, in the event of a prolonged epidemic with high livestock mortality, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity — will increase.

    Northern and central Mali

    Increased market disruptions due to residual insecurity from October to May

    Increased insecurity would further affect the economic environment in northern and central Mali with a negative impact on household incomes, supplies, and livelihoods. Increased conflict could lead to more widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    Pastoral areas of northern Mali (zones 2, 3, and 4), the Niger Delta (zone 6) and the Sahelian strip (zone 13)

    Significant damage to pastures caused by brush fires from March to May

    Although difficult to project, historical trends show that bushfires usually cause extensive damage to pastures from December to May, which will result in atypical pasture degradation and livestock feeding difficulties. The decline in livestock physical conditions and production, and the possible resulting mortality, will negatively affect the livelihoods (animal production and income) of agropastoral households. This will have a negative impact on food consumption and incomes, leading to an increased number of poor households experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the affected areas, but given the localized impacts these results will not change the classification phase of the area. 

    Insecure central and northern areas of the country

    Decreased conflict or successful negotiation leading to improved humanitarian access

    Improved humanitarian access would be necessary to prevent the consequences of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the conflict-affected border areas, where conflict is currently preventing regular delivery of food assistance to the populations that need it most. If this happens, and if food assistance deliveries consequently increase to reach at least 25 percent of the population with at least 50 percent of their monthly kilocalorie needs, an improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) would be likely.


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.   


    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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