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Average levels of food insecurity in most parts of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • April 2016
Average levels of food insecurity in most parts of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2016
  • Key Messages
    • Better crop yields than in 2014 and 2015, well-stocked markets, stable food import prices, and cereal imports from Mali and Senegal are leading to adequate seasonal food availability across the country and helping poor households maintain regular food access. Most parts of the country will continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity at least through September. 

    • Good pastoral conditions are eliminating spending on animal feed purchases (except in a few localized areas of Tagant, Inchiri, and Adrar), helping to promote new animal births to rebuild livestock herds, improving the availability of milk, and driving up the value of livestock. Together, these factors will lead to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in agropastoral areas of Brakna by July, with the end of the lean season for pastoral populations. 

    • Three consecutive years of pasture and/or crop production deficits and poor water access in parts of the country (Akjoujt in Inchiri, Aoujeft in Adrar, Moudjéria and Tidjikja in Tagant, and Monguel in Gorgol) are heightening pressure on livestock-raising, the main livelihood  of poor households,, creating Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions through September.

    Current Situation

    Farming conditions: Harvests of rainfed crops were completed in February and harvests of flood recession crops were completed in March. In general, yields of cereals and pulses in all parts of the country were better than in the last two years. In spite of the withering of crops in bottomland and walo areas and the damage from bird and stalk borer infestations, national crop production was near average with the good performance of rice crops grown mainly in the Senegal River Valley. However, at best, crop yields in the areas of concern (Akjoujt in Inchiri, Aoujeft in Adrar, Moudjéria and Tidjikja in Tagant, and Monguel in Gorgol) will cover only 50 to 60 percent of poor households’ needs, while on average, these productions meet their needs for five to six months.

    Pastures: Despite a few pockets of pasture deficits, pasturelands still meet the needs of local livestock. The only atypical herd movements by transhumant livestock are in transhumant pastoral areas of Trarza and agropastoral areas of Tagant (western Moudjéria, southern Tidjikja, and central and eastern Monguel), starting in March instead of May. The increase in new animal births is improving seasonal milk availability, though there are still below-average numbers of births.

    Income: Seasonal incomes in all livelihood zones are well below average. With the disruption in crop calendars (due to the late start of the rainy season and later than usual recession of floodwaters), a large portion of the harvest was consumed green. In addition, pressure from grain-eating birds forced farmers to harvest their crops before reaching full maturity. As a result, there was less demand for farm labor, while good pasture conditions also limited demand for pastoral labor. There is still little income from short-term seasonal labor migration in spite of the earlier than usual departure of migrant workers (by December/January instead of March/April) and the larger number of migrants (two or three per household instead of the normal single family member), as the large supply of labor in large cities has limited access to employment opportunities and stabilized the price of labor.

    Certain poor households in the western reaches of the agropastoral zone (in central Brakna, Moudjéria, and Tidjikja in Tagant, and Monguel in Gorgol) and in southeastern lnchiri and Adrar (in Aoujeft department) have no food stocks and insufficient incomes with which to purchase food. These households will continue to resort to selling livestock between April and June which, even with the increase in new animal births, runs the risk of creating a livelihood protection deficit.

    Markets and prices: Markets are well-stocked with staple food (rice, wheat, sugar, oil, tea, etc.). While clearly better than at the same time in 2015, staple cereal supplies are still below average given that, in addition to small production deficits in certain areas, many farmers have chosen to use their crops for household consumption. The smaller than average flow of cross-border trade in sorghum and millet with Mali and Senegal is not affecting markets. In fact, sorghum prices on all markets are below the five-year average.

    Prices are holding steady in markets sourcing their supplies from Nouakchott (i.e. the Aoujeft market), where the rise in January prices for rice was accentuated by new taxation conditions. Prices for imported rice in the Senegal River Valley (on the Boghé market), where customs regulations are limiting imports, are up by 4.8 percent from March. With the harvest of flood recession crops reducing rice consumption, the price of rice on the Magta Lahjar market in the agropastoral zone stabilized at around 300 MRO/kg in April after being driven up from 270 MRO to 350 MRO at the beginning of March by February price shocks. This is stabilizing the price of locally grown rice in this area. In any event, these price increases are being held in check by the continuing shipments of crops by Senegalese farmers to nearby markets in Mauritania.

    With few exceptions (Tidjikja, Bouhadida, and Boghé), conditions on livestock markets are near average. Prices for livestock are at or above the five-year average, except in areas affected by crop production deficits. Stable wheat prices are helping to maintain good terms of trade for livestock, though poor households are exposing themselves to livelihood protection deficits by continuing to sell off their animals. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used in establishing FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April through September 2016 have not changed.

    Projected Outlook Through September 2016

    Poor households in Moudjeria, Tidjikja, Akjoujt, Monguel, and Aoujeft departments with crop production shortfalls and reduced incomes are resorting to purchasing their food supplies two to three months sooner than usual. Thee forced sales of their livestock is putting pressure on animal herds, which are the only livelihood assets they can draw on as basis for the implementation of atypical coping strategies. The Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity faced by households in oasis areas will begin to improve as of May with the food and cash resources generated by the date harvest. This will also be the case for households in Brakna benefiting from available pastoral resources with the end of the lean season in pastoral areas as of July. However, households in other areas who are more dependent on harvests of flood-recession crops will not begin experiencing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity until after the end of September.

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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