Food Security Outlook Update

Minimal seasonal food insecurity for most of the population

May 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Poor farming households in northern non-oasis areas, northwestern agropastoral areas (Maghta Lahjar, southern Aleg, and northern Monguel departments), and southeastern rainfed agriculture areas with large concentrations of Malian refugees are still experiencing IPC Phase 2 Stress food insecurity outcomes, dictated more by declining seasonal incomes than by food availability.

  • In general, market supplies in southeastern Mauritania have improved with the stabilization of security conditions in Mali, bringing down prices. Middle-income and better-off households have regular, adequate food access, sustained by favorable terms of trade. The food access of poor households is just starting to improve with the restoration of civil security. If stability continues, this area could be experiencing IPC Phase 1 Minimal food insecurity by July.

Current Situation

Food security across the country has been stable since April, marked by:

  • The restoration of good food availability on local markets. With the pick-up in trade with Senegal and Mali increasing the flow of commercial food imports and humanitarian food assistance, staple food availability is good and market access is normal throughout the country.
  • Stable food prices since January.  Prices have remained more or less stable in spite of temporary shortages, often translating into one-off price spikes, particularly on markets dependent on regular deliveries of humanitarian food assistance, such as the Bassikounou and  Fassala markets in the southeastern part of the country.   
  • Steadily rising prices for livestock, even in areas with Stressed food security outcomes (IPC Phase 2)Increasing prices have created favorable terms of trade for middle-income and better-off households who have enough animals left to sell. 
  • The operation of special assistance programs, government-subsidized “boutiques de solidarité” (BS), and village-level food security stocks (SAVS) serving as the main source of food access for poor households in most areas.  These services enable poor households to buy food at 2012 subsidized prices, well below those charged by formal traders (by 20 to 40 percent). In addition, following distributions of free food rations to native households in refugee receiving areas, WFP is currently engaged in restocking outpatient therapeutic feeding centers for children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (CRENAMs).
  • Favorable pastoral conditions in most parts of the country.  Seasonal migration by transhumant herds is normal,  except in northwestern agropastoral areas and the northern part of the country.
  • Normal patterns of short-term seasonal labor migration.  Seasonal labor migration is following typical patterns, with the exception of southeast and northwestern agropastoral areas, whose impact on food security conditions is still limited and modest at best.
  • Food access by poor agro-oriented agropastoral households in northwestern agropastoral areas to food via market purchase is difficult due to low incomes. The good pastoral conditions in neighboring areas have spurred internal migration by transhumant herds, limiting demand for pastoral labor, which is an important source of income for this group of households.
  • Improvements in the situation of poor households in northern oasis areas served by the oasis project which has been underway for the past several years and is scheduled to continue through 2014. Members of poor households in flood-recession farming areas with no alternative livelihood activities have sought employment in local enterprises. These wages (50,000 to 60,000 MRO) are a regular source of income, but the numbers of such workers are still limited and the speculation sparked by their new purchasing power has caused prices on markets close to the main highway to increase rapidly.

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. An in-depth examination of this outlook can be found in the Food Security Outlook for April through September 2013.  

Projected Outlook through June 2013

  • Markets in northwestern agropastoral areas will continue to be well-stocked with sorghum and wheat, the main substitute cereal. Faced with the current sorghum price increases, which are still 45 to 50 percent lower than at the same time last year, households will face difficulty accessing wheat (main substitute) as price increases of nearly 20 percent in May suggest growing demand for this commodity. Even in the event of a normal rainy season, food insecurity is not likely to come down to IPC Phase 1 Minimal levels until the beginning of July, by which time improved pastoral conditions will have increased milk production. 
  • With the slowdown in the flow of refugees into the southeastern part of the country easing pressure on markets, food security should not deteriorate further, particularly with the CSA and WFP working to strengthen the capacity of local CRENAMs (outpatient therapeutic feeding centers). Food insecurity outcomes will continue to be at IPC Phase 2 Stress levels between now and September as the spin-off effects of the Malian crisis could further tighten already limited food supplies in this area during the yearly rainy season, when road conditions become difficult. However, increased cereal availability following seasonal crop sales by Malian farmers, income from farm labor, and stable prices for commercially marketed foodstuffs should bring acute food insecurity down to IPC Phase 1 Minimal levels during that time if the relative stability continues in this zone.
  • No major deterioration in food security is expected among poor oasis households in the north compared with conditions in previous months. Poor farming households are finding employment opportunities in mining and road construction, which has helped to stabilize food security outcomes at IPC Phase 2 Stress levels in non-oasis areas. The current climate outlook for normal rainfall, beginning in late June, and the ensuing improvement in pastoral conditions, added to the combined effects of income from wage labor and farm work, will likely bring food insecurity back down to Minimal levels (IPC Phase 1). 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics