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Minimal levels of seasonal food insecurity for most of the population

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • February 2013
Minimal levels of seasonal food insecurity for most of the population

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Food availability in most livelihood zones is favorable due to better than average local cereal harvests, the jump-starting of domestic trade and trade with Mali in rainfed agriculture areas, a regular flow of commercial imports, normal levels of seasonal income, and the continued operation of so-called “boutiques de solidarité” (government-subsidized shops). 

    • However, an estimated 5,000 poor farming households in wadi and oasis areas where last year’s poor rainfall conditions sharply reduced the size of viable cropping areas and resulting streams of household incomes are stressed (IPC Phase 2).  

    • For the time being, only the Bassikounou department is feeling the effects of the Malian conflict on the cross-border movement of people and goods, which has seen an influx of more than 13,000 Malian refugees since the middle of January. Elsewhere, Malian and Mauritanian cereal traders are continuing to supply Mauritanian markets in rainfed agriculture and agropastoral areas.

    Current Situation

    Currently, food security is characterized by the following factors:

    • Good harvests of rainfed and irrigated winter crops. Though the harvest outlook for walo crops is not as good as originally expected, due to the use of poor quality seeds and pest attacks that have hindered crop growth, the current forecast is still close to the November estimate by CILSS and Ministry of Rural Development technicians (43 percent above the five-year average).
    • Retail markets are well-stocked with imported foodstuffs and an increasingly brisk domestic trade in cereals are putting prices on certain markets in rainfed agriculture and agropastoral areas relatively close to average (at between 90 and 100 MRO/kg), 50 to 70 percent below prices at the same time last year. 
    • To-date, the impact of the conflict in Mali has been limited. Trade flows are mostly normal in all areas with the exception of refugee receiving areas in southeastern areas of the Bassikounou department. This trade is being fueled by the large supply of cereal crops in Mali, where the lack of a government demand for the rebuilding of national food security reserves is prompting Malian farmers to try and move their surplus crops on weekly markets in border areas.
    • Wheat and rice prices are stable, and sorghum prices are decreasing. Sorghum prices on most markets have been falling since December, putting them under the five-year average, while wheat prices are stabilizing in the river valley, where local rice harvests are allowing poor households to limit their recourse to this crop.  Prices for imported foods are relatively unchanged from last month but are much higher than last year due to continuing hikes in fuel prices, which are driving up transportation costs.
    • Terms of trade for sheep/cereal are in favor of pastoralists due to a steady increase in livestock prices, sustained by the clearing of inventories on rural markets by the high demand for meat for the religious holidays in Mauritania and Senegal. Demand in large urban centers in Senegal for Mauritanian sheep and cattle, which have a reputation for being meatier than local species, outstripped competition from Senegalese pastoralists in agropastoral zones, whose only real impact was on northern markets provisioned by Mauritania. 
    • Pastoral conditions remain favorable in spite of reported brush fires in transhumant pastoral and rainfed agriculture areas. With the exception of nomadic groups in Mali who are presently heading back to Mauritania, current patterns of seasonal migration are in line with normal trends in a good year. The reported new calf births in agropastoral areas should soon provide local households with adequate milk supplies.
    • Locusts from Mali are increasing the density of locust populations in the northern part of the country. However, the National Locust Control Center (CLA) is not overly concerned, having shored up its surveillance and treatment apparatus. 

    Updated Assumptions

    Food security conditions in all livelihood zones are consistent with the projected outlook for the period from January through June 2013. An in-depth examination of this outlook can be found in the Food Security Outlook for January through June 2013

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    Food insecurity levels will be kept to a minimum (IPC 2.0 Phase 1) between now and March, except in the case of poor households in the following areas:

    • In Northwestern agropastoral areas  the underutilization of lowland farming zones and the suspension of assistance programs could trigger the implementation of coping strategies, with minor effects on the livelihoods of poor farming-oriented households between March and June.
    • The new wave of refugees the southeastern corner of the country  could be a destabilizing force, reducing the seasonal income of poor households and undermining pastoral conditions, which could lead to unexpected herd movements and possibly affect food supplies several months earlier than usual (by March instead of June), driving food insecurity levels up into IPC Phase 2 (stress).
    • In the northern part of the country, where the smaller viable area for the planting of cereal and market garden crops and the lack of pasture resources after last year’s poor rainfall conditions have severely eroded local sources of income for poor households, likely to propel food insecurity levels into IPC Phase 2 (stress) between March and June.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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