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Certain zones are affected by degrading pastoral conditions

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • March 2014
Certain zones are affected by degrading pastoral conditions

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Food security conditions are steadily deteriorating in northern Guidimakha as well as in northern (Monguel Department) and eastern Gorgol (M’Bout Department), where poor households have been severely affected by the depletion of food stocks since January. The currently Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) in these areas will reach Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between April and June.
    • In the other areas of the country’s rainfed cultivation, agropastoral and Senegal River Valley livelihood zones the gradual onset of this year’s earlier than usual lean season and the heavy dependence of households on market purchasing to meet their food needs will aggravate the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions in these areas, where growing numbers of households are no longer able to meet their essential nonfood needs.
    • The seasonal incomes of poor households from farming-related activities and short-term seasonal labor migration are currently lower than expected. Income levels from pastoral activities, though down from last month, are higher than at the same time last year and above the five-year average.

    Current Situation

    Pastoral conditions: The combined effects of overgrazing and brush fires have further degraded the already poor pasture conditions in the southern reaches of the agropastoral livelihood zone, the pastoral transhumance livelihood zone, and the western and central reaches of the Senegal River Valley due to the erratic rainfall activity in these areas. This normal if unusually severe seasonal phenomenon is mainly affecting small and medium-size pastoralists unable to move their herds to seasonal grazing lands and, thus, forced to resort to purchasing animal feed sooner than usual. Pastoral conditions in the northern part of the country and the eastern reaches of its agropastoral and rainfed cultivation livelihood zones are still meeting the needs of local livestock. Herd movements by migratory animals should follow normal migration routes and schedules, but any shock would increase recourse to the purchasing of animal feed, which would affect poor households unable to sustain many sales of animals without running the risk of damaging their livelihoods.

    Livestock prices: With the growing livestock sales by transhumant pastoralists, sale prices for livestock are unusually low compared with price levels in the last few months. Prices for sheep on the Magta Lahjar and Adel Bagrou markets are down by 10 and 4 percent, respectively, though they are still higher than they were last year and well above the five-year average. Sheep prices in the vicinity of the Senegal River Valley are up from January of this year and well above figures for the same time last year and the five-year average.

    On-farm stocks: The on-farm stocks of poor households in deficit-producing areas of northern Guidimaka, northern and eastern Gorgol, southwestern Assaba, and northeastern Brakna are already depleted. Households in these areas are already resorting to market purchasing to meet their food needs two to three months earlier than usual.

    Market garden crops: Ongoing market gardening activities are concentrated in the western reaches of the Senegal River Valley (in Trarza and southwestern Brakna), oasis areas of Adrar and Tagant, and areas of Assaba along seasonal streams (mainly in Kankossa Department). Despite strong competition from Senegalese and Moroccan exports, these crops are still being shipped to local markets and, in some cases, to markets in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. Production and income levels in these areas are expected to be at least on par with figures for an average year.

    Retail markets: Markets are still well-stocked with staple foodstuffs (mainly imports), but seasonal market supplies of coarse grain crops (millet, sorghum, and maize) are well below-average due to poor local cereal production and the reported slowdown in cross-border trade with Mali and Senegal. This is leading to an unusual stability or increase in sorghum prices, slowed only by harvests of lowland and walo crops (Figure 2). Sustained demand in the valley prevented the usual seasonal decline in the price of wheat, the main substitute grain for sorghum, confirming the limited volume of local sorghum production and flow of cross-border trade with Senegal. The rising price of wheat in the “rainfed cultivation” livelihood zone is attributable to the growing demand, driven by the slowdown in trade and tight supply of local cereal crops (Figure 3).


    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in the food security situation in all livelihood zones are consistent with the projected outlook for the period from January through June 2014.


    Projected Outlook through June 2014

    The Stressed levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2), which has been only affecting up until this point poor households in the central reaches of the river valley (Boghé, Bababé, M’Bagne, and Kaédi Departments), central and northern Guidimakha (the northern part of Sélibaby Department and all of Monguel Department), northern and eastern Gorgol (Monguel and M’Bout Departments), and northeastern Brakna (Magta Lahjar Department) could spread through the entire rainfed cultivation livelihood zone and a large part of the central reaches of the agropastoral livelihood zone (central and northern Assaba and Hodh El Gharbi and Tagant) as of the beginning of April. While the month of April normally marks the beginning of the lean season for pastoral populations, this year’s earlier than usual lean season in agriculture areas will also begin by late March/early April, aggravated by greater limitations on household food resources in the above-mentioned areas. The condition of livestock is beginning to deteriorate two months sooner than usual, driving down their prices and, thus, sharply weakening terms of trade for livestock-cereals. Seasonal income from farm labor (market gardening activities) in oasis areas (Inchiri, Adrar, Dakhlet, Nouadhibou, and Tiris Zemmour) and monthly wages should help give poor households in the northern reaches of the country regular access to the foodstuffs sold in government-subsidized shops (Boutiques de Solidarité) at 30 to 40 percent below formal market prices. Poor households in areas with the most limited food access such as northern Guidimakha (Ould Yengé Department) and, to a certain extent, Aftout (Monguel, M’Bout, and Magta Lahjar Departments) are expected to begin to experience food consumption gaps by the beginning of April, exposing them to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2: Trends in sorghum prices on the Magta Lahjar market in the agropastoral livelihood zone

    Figure 2

    Figure 2: Trends in sorghum prices on the Magta Lahjar market in the agropastoral livelihood zone

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3: Trends in wheat prices on the Adel Bagrou market in the agropastoral livelihood zone

    Figure 3

    Figure 3: Trends in wheat prices on the Adel Bagrou market in the agropastoral livelihood zone

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 4

    Source:

    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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