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Minimal levels of seasonal food insecurity for most of the population

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • March 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
    • Due to large household and trader stocks and a good flow of domestic and cross-border trade, food availability is still be ensured and most poor households are experiencing only Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. 

    • However, some 5,000 poor farming households in wadi (dry riverbed) and oasis areas are still feeling the effects of the poor rainy season on their agropastoral output and incomes. These households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.  

    • After a large influx of arrivals in February, refugee inflows into Mauritania have slowed. At the moment, the only negative effects of their presence are on the movement of people and goods in Bassikounou department. However the large concentration of workers and livestock in the southeast is expected to cause Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity in that area by the beginning of May.

    Current Situation

    The current food security situation in Mauritania is shaped by the following factors:

    • The harvest outlook for walo (flood-recession) crops is not as good as originally anticipated, although reported improvements in rainfed and irrigated crop production should offset this shortfall.
    • Retail markets are well-stocked with imported foods and domestic flows of traditional cereals between rainfed farming, agropastoral, and river valley areas are intense.
    • Cereal prices are fluctuating in line with the supply, demand, and inventory levels of boutiques de solidarité (shops selling cereals at a government subsidized rate) rather than with local demand. This often triggers speculation by farmers and cereal traders alike. For example, the increase in sorghum prices by nine percent on the Adel Bagrou market in the rainfed farming zone and by 13 percent on the Magta Lahjar market in the agropastoral area is attributable to the presence of a large number of cereal traders from Nouakchott looking to build up their inventories at low prices that were driven down by a large market supply at this time of year. This heavy pressure on food supply caused prices to temporarily rebound although good cereal availability on local markets and in neighboring countries should cause prices to decline over the next several weeks.
    • The impact of the conflict in Mali has been limited. Trade flows are normal in all areas with the exception of areas receiving refugees in southeastern Bassikounou department, which are provisioning markets in border areas.
    • In general, wheat prices have stabilized. However two exceptions are: 1) the Senegal River Valley (the Boghé market) due food shortages at the boutiques de solidarité and sustained demand levels from livestock-oriented agropastoral households, and 2) rainfed farming areas where the influx of wheat-consuming Malian pastoralists has heightened pressure on the already dwindling supplies of this crop. 
    • Prices for other imported foods, which have been relatively stable through February, are beginning to increase with the steady rise in fuel prices, contributing to increasing transportation costs. For example, the price of fuel is up 12 percent from the same time last year. In addition, the cost of a liter of diesel oil, the fuel used by most trucking companies, jumped from 376 to 383 MRO between February and the beginning of March.
    • Since January, there has been a seasonally normal rise in livestock prices in all livelihood zones. Sheep/cereal terms of trade are favorable to households selling livestock with the tightening of livestock supplies on rural markets.  This tightening of supply is due to: 1) pastoralists reducing their livestock sales with the end of the holiday season, 2) pastoralists rebuilding their herd sizes, and 3) good conditions in pastoral areas. 
    • Pastoral conditions are still satisfactory, with the exception of oasis areas where most pastoralists have already started moving their herds to seasonal grazing lands in agropastoral areas. Patterns of seasonal migration in the rest of the country are in line with trends generally seen during a good year, aside from the return migration of nomadic populations from Mali due to fear of reprisals.

    Updated Assumptions

    Current 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 will be at Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) levels between now and June, except in the case of poor households in the following areas:

    • Northwestern agropastoral areas, where the underutilization of lowland areas, the poor performance of flood-recession crops due to stalk borer attacks, and the suspension of assistance programs are causing households to resort to coping strategies with minor effects on their livelihoods.
    • Southeastern areas of the country, where poor households will face increased competition for income-generating activities during the lean season (between April and June) due to a new wave of Malian refugees. In addition, the presence of pastoral households with large livestock herds amongst the refugee population could erode pastoral conditions in these areas between March and June, forcing local pastoralists to engage in unforeseen seasonal migration to northern rainfed farming areas and southern agropastoral areas. Despite this, the area will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity levels as the intensification of trade flows should strengthen food access for this group of households who are already benefiting from favorable terms of trade.
    • Oasis areas, where shortfalls in cereal and market gardening crop harvests, and the resulting effects on income streams, have put poor households active in agricultural activities in Stress (IPC Phase 2). However, the income earned by these households from construction work on the road between Adrar and Tagant, and the expected regular supply of food to markets in these areas, should prevent any major deterioration in food insecurity between March and June. 
    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in 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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