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Cereal imports help meet rising household demand in the pre-lean season period

  • Key Message Update
  • Mauritania
  • May 2023
Cereal imports help meet rising household demand in the pre-lean season period

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The month of May marks the start of the lean season, characterized by an increase in household dependence on the market due to the depletion of household food stocks. Household demand has shifted to imported products as the availability of local staples has fallen sharply and prices have risen significantly. The availability of imported staples remains satisfactory due to regular imports of rice, pasta, sugar, vegetable oil, and milk powder, although prices are higher than normal due to inflation. While food prices are on a downward trend internationally, food inflation in Mauritania remains high: in May, food inflation was 15 percent higher than at the same time last year, down just 2.4 percent from the highest point reached in July 2022 (17 percent). Given limited employment opportunities, most poor households with reduced purchasing power are adopting consumption strategies indicative of Stress (IPC Phase 2), with some households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in urban and agropastoral areas.

    • Access to food will be increasingly limited for poor urban households for a number of reasons. Ramadan stores have closed, the food assistance program in 3 willlayas of Nouakchott has ended, market prices remain extremely high, and daily jobs are scarce and irregular. For example, a moud of sorghum (1 moud is equivalent to around 8 or 9 kilograms) is selling for between 75 and 80 Mauritanian Ouguiya (MRU), compared to 50 MRU in a typical year in the valley area. As a result, some of these urban households will have difficulty acquiring sufficient food and will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes at the height of the lean season in July-August 2023.

    • In rural areas, poor households typically derive their income mainly from pastoral labor, fishing, the sale of harvested products, firewood, and charcoal, which enable them to cover their food and non-food expenses in this pre-harvest period when household stocks are at their lowest. Income from the rural labor migration to urban centers is also a significant supplement for many poor households. However, given the slowdown in economic activity in the big cities, the volume of cash transfers from this labor migration may be lower than usual.

    • Internal transhumance movements are still observed. However, the prevailing insecurity in Mali is considerably slowing down movements towards that country, forcing Mauritanian herds to retreat to pastoral areas in the east and center of the country. As a result, the seasonal concentration of livestock is much higher than in a typical year. The descent of herders from Tagant, Trarza, Adrar, and Inchiri is also leading to large concentrations in low-lying areas and on the banks of the Senegal River and its tributaries.

    • After the Ramadan holiday in April, livestock prices stabilized but remained higher than at the same time last year and the five-year average. This increase is due to higher prices of animals on assembly markets (between 18 and 22 percent higher than the same period in 2022), but also to the higher cost of transporting livestock, which is estimated to be 8 to 10 times more expensive.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Mauritania Key Message Update May 2023: Cereal imports help meet rising household demand in the pre-lean season period, 2023.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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