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Minimal food insecurity among most rural populations

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • June 2013
Minimal food insecurity among most rural populations

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Light rainfall in early June are consistent with seasonal forecasts (by the ACMAD, the Regional Agrhymet Center, and the National Weather Services of CILSS member countries) for season-long normal to above-normal cumulative rainfall totals, particularly in the southern part of the country (the two Hodhs, Assaba, Guidimakha, Gorgol, Brakna, and Trarza). 

    • The extension of previous assistance programs such as SAVS (village-level food security stocks) and government-subsidized boutiques de solidarité has prevented a deterioration in food security despite the ongoing lean season in pastoral areas since April and the presence of 81,500 Malian refugees in southeastern Mauritania. 

    • Markets are well-stocked with affordable staple foods, resulting in favorable terms of trade for sheep/cereal. With the improvement in farming and pastoral conditions, poor households will be experiencing IPC Phase 1: Minimal food insecurity by July.

    Current Situation

    Food security levels are unchanged from May, largely due to:

    • The steady improvement in food availability on markets and through assistance programs (SAVS, BS, and CRENAMs). Food imports by traders and humanitarian assistance are increasing with the acceleration in the flow of trade with Mali, Senegal, and North Africa. Cereal sales at subsidized prices by SAVS and BS programs and distributions of free food assistance by the WFP and CSA are helping to improve household access to a regular supply of food, though it may often fall short or consist of substitute foods, which is only normal at this time of year.  SAVS and BS programs are the main source of food access for poor households in most parts of the country, allowing them to buy food supplies at (20 to 40 percent) lower prices than in the formal commercial sector.  
    • Cereal prices are down from April in most parts of the country, with a few important exceptions such as increasing sorghum prices.  Increased prices for  this cereal between May and June in rainfed farming areas (by 12 percent on the Adel Bagou market) in spite of the increase in trade is a market reaction to high demand, fueled by the presence of the refugee population living outside the Mbera camp who are buying supplies on the local market. Wheat price increases (by 8.6 percent) is Aoujeft could be due to an added demand from travelers to the area for the date harvest and laborers working on the road. Increases in the cost of locally grown rice, the main substitute cereal for sorghum and wheat, in northwestern agropastoral areas (on the Magta Lahjar market) could be a result of the wheat shortage.
    • Livestock prices are unchanged from last month, except in northwestern agropastoral areas (+16.4 percent) and the central reaches of the Senegal River Valley (+6.2 percent), where the upward trend in prices is attributable to demand from pastoralists looking to rebuild their herds and from Senegalese traders preparing to meet the impending high demand at the end of the month-long observance of Ramadan, which begins in mid-July. 
    • Pastoral conditions are good in most parts of the country, with normal patterns of seasonal migration by transhumant animals, except in northwestern agropastoral areas, southeastern rainfed farming areas with a Malian refugee population of pastoralists, and in the north. The localized deterioration in pastoral conditions in northwestern agropastoral areas with the large numbers of animals confined to a limited space is forcing poor farming-oriented agropastoral households to resort to the use of animal feed. Their small animal herds prevent them from engaging in seasonal migration.
    • Maturing date crops in the north are providing poor households with a seasonal source of food and income. The sharp increase in production should mean more labor and higher levels of income-generation. These wages are a normal source of income, but the speculation engendered by renewed purchasing power is causing price spikes on roadside markets.
    • Growing season program: The government’s targets for the growing season are the planting of a total of 273,000 hectares in crops, including 3,000 hectares in market garden crops and 270,000 hectares in cereal crops, for an expected total gross output of 310,000 metric tons, which is above the normal level of production. The government will provide subsidies for rice farmers equal to 45 percent of the average farmgate price of fertilizer and weed killer. It is also planning to provide farmers in rainfed farming areas with an estimated 400 metric tons of traditional seeds to meet needs for 30 percent of their crop production potential.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in food security conditions in all livelihood zones are in keeping with the projected outlook for the period from April through September 2013. A full discussion of this outlook can be found in the Food Security Outlook for April through September 2013

    Projected Outlook through June 2013

    The normal, timely, definitive start of the rainy season in all livelihood zones as of the end of June or the beginning of July should translate into good pastoral conditions and a normal level of farming activities. This will enable poor households to earn income from farm labor, bringing food insecurity down to IPC Phase 1: Minimal levels by July.

    • Market supplies in northwestern agropastoral areas will be adequate and movements in staple food prices will follow normal seasonal trends. Prices for livestock will improve with the growth in demand and the smooth operation of SAVS and BS programs should ensure favorable terms of trade for livestock-selling households. Based on weather forecasts for the southeastern part of the country, in the most likely scenario, food insecurity will improve to IPC Phase 1: Minimal levels with cereal availability bolstered by the unloading of crops by Malian farmers (a seasonal phenomenon), income from farm labor, and stable prices for commercially marketed foodstuffs. The date harvest underway in oasis areas will significantly improve household income through the end of July or early August. The combined effects of earnings from wage labor and farming activities should translate into Minimal food insecurity through September. 
    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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