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Minimal food insecurity in most rural areas of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mauritania
  • November 2013
Minimal food insecurity in most rural areas of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Based on estimates by the joint crop assessment, nationwide crop production is expected to surpass the five-year average by 19 percent. With food availability from the latest round of harvests and the positive effects of good conditions in pastoral areas, most rural areas of the country will experience Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) through December.

    • However, large shortfalls from harvests of rainfed cereal crops in parts of Guidimakha, Gorgol, and Brakna have curtailed seasonal cereal availability and reduced wage income from farm labor. Thus, poor households in these areas will be facing Stressed acute food insecurity outcomes (IPC Phase 2) between January and March of next year.

    • The sharp improvement in environmental conditions with the rainfall activity in early November in the northern reaches of the country has led to a new outbreak of locust infestations. In spite of the National Locust Control Center’s (CNLA) increased control measures, pressure from locust populations could be a source of concern between November and January and pose a serious threat to flood-recession crops.

    Current Situation

    Progress of the growing season: The rainy season is over and farming activities for all crops (including late-season rainfed crops, flood-recession crops, and irrigated crops) are progressing according to their seasonal tendencies. Estimates released by the crop assessment conducted by CILSS in conjunction with the Mauritanian government, the FAO, the WFP, and FEWS NET put nationwide cereal production at 297,332 metric tons, which is 15 percent less compared to last year (which was a record year) but 19 percent above the five-year average. The rainfall in early November triggered a new locust outbreak which has not yet been definitively brought under control due to the large infested area (120,000 km2 as of November 25th) and the long distances between the different areas targeted for treatment scattered across Adrar, Inchiri, and Dakhlet Nouadhibou. This is posing a serious threat to flood-recession crops currently in the tillering and stem growth stages of development.

    Rainfed cereal crops: Rainfed cereal production is expected to be only three percent below the five-year average. Though nationwide crop production should be at least on par with the average, poor households in northern Guidimakha and western agropastoral areas are seeing crop losses of close to 70 percent compared to average.

    Flood-recession cereal crops (walo, lowland, and dam-area crops): Work is currently underway in all flood-recession farming areas, which should see good harvests beginning in January of next year with the high water levels behind area dams and the good levels of runoff from the river. In spite of the reduction in wage rates for day labor (from 1500 MRO to 1000 MRO) due to the large supply of workers, income levels from farm labor in these areas are still above-average due to the increase in hours worked and increase in out-of-area work in light of the large tracts of land farmed in these flood-recession areas.

    Irrigated rice crops: As of the beginning of the harvest, irrigated rice production for the rainy season in the Senegal River Valley was estimated at 118,439 metric tons, which is 29 percent above the five-year average. Output from this harvest (completed in December) will be bolstered by hot off-season crop production, providing on-farm employment for poor households between February and March and a supply of food at harvest time (in June/July).

    Pastoral conditions: The condition of pastures and water availability across the country are categorized as average, with localized pockets of pasture and water deficits. The worst-off areas are concentrated in the southwestern part of the country. However, these pasture shortages will not affect pastoral households currently experiencing minimal food insecurity until after the end of March of next year, with the November rains suggesting heavier rainfall activity in December and January, spurring the growth of fresh pasture in the northern part of the country and limiting seasonal migration by pastoralists in this area southward.

    Retail markets: Markets are still well-stocked with staple foods (mainly imports) and prices were relatively stable between October and November, in line with the same price trend observed since August. Coarse grain prices in areas with ongoing harvests are already down sharply from last month (by 8.5 percent in the case of sorghum prices on the Adelbagrou market). The result is a typical seasonal improvement in food availability for area households, which are also still being served by ongoing assistance programs giving them staple food access at lower prices.

    Prices for livestock are virtually unchanged from last month, except for the 12.7 percent rise in prices in the river valley area. Unable to meet demand on northern markets in their own country, Senegalese traders have turned to the Boghé market. Livestock prices are above the five-year average by anywhere from 35.3 to 75.5 percent. In general, sheep-cereal terms of trade are still in favor of pastoralists compared with figures for last month and with the five-year average.

    Updated Assumptions

    Trends in the food security situation in all livelihood zones are consistent with the projected outlook for the period from October 2013 through March 2014. However, with the November rains creating conducive conditions for locust breeding activities, there is a high probability of mounting pressure from locust populations. A locust infestation between December and January would devastate flood-recession crops and green pasture resources (woody and herbaceous vegetation made green by the rains) and trigger a sharp decrease in current food insecurity in all affected areas.

    Projected Outlook Through March 2014

    All livelihood zones are expected to experience Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) between November and December of this year. This is a typical seasonal trend sustained by harvests of rainfed and irrigated crops and by income from farm labor in both types of farming activities and in flood-recession farming areas, where reclamation work is underway. Based on our prospective food security analyses, conditions are expected to deteriorate between January and March in certain areas where the poor temporal distribution of rainfall has affected rainfed crops and pastures, particularly in central and northern Guidimakha, eastern and northern Gorgol, and northern Brakna. The deterioration in conditions is likely to be especially sharp in Guidimakha, where rainfed farming activities are the only source of on-farm crop production by poor households. Faced with the depletion of their food stocks before realizing the return of migrant remittances, these households will be subject to Stressed food security conditions (Phase 2, IPC 2.0) and will have some difficulty maintaining their livelihoods, but should not experience food consumption gaps.


    Figure 1


    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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