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Inflation limits households' ability to meet their basic needs

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Mauritania
  • June 2022
Inflation limits households' ability to meet their basic needs

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2023
  • Key Messages
    • Low purchasing power coupled with an atypical increase in staple food prices makes it difficult for poor and very poor households to access adequate food. Poor and very poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from June through September 2022. In the agropastoral, rainfed cultivation, and Senegal River Valley zones, the normal to early onset of the rainy season in June will regenerate pastures and fill watering holes over the coming months. From October to January, local produce (agricultural and fodder), milk, and meat will be available and will replenish food stocks; however, with continued food inflation and low purchasing power, poor and very poor households in these zones are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • Markets, the main food sources for households during the lean season, remain adequately supplied. Still,  accessibility is difficult for poor and very poor households because of the atypical increase in the price of staple foods, particularly imported foods, compared to last year and the five-year average.

    • Precipitation for the June to September season is expected to be above average. Soil preparation activities for the next sowing are under way in the low-lying areas of the river valley and in the rainfed cultivation zones, providing day labor opportunities for poor and very poor households. Low levels of pasture availability over the past three months in much of the country have led to early cross-border transhumance to Mali and Senegal and a heavy reliance on more expensive livestock feed.

    ZoneCurrent anomaliesprojected anomalies
    National
    • Households' dependence on markets is increasing further, with food prices well above last year's levels and the five-year average.
    • The atypical increase in staple food prices and the decline in poor households' purchasing power will continue in a similar way. A relative decrease in the prices of local agricultural products is expected with the first harvests from September to October, but prices will remain above the five-year average, especially for imported products.
     
    • The livelihoods of poor households are under pressure during this lean season due to the early depletion of food stocks from the 2021/2022 agricultural growing season and the high price of imported staple foods.
    • Households' dependence on markets for food will further increase.

    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2023

    The 2022/23 agricultural growing season is gradually starting up in the low-lying river valley areas and river crop-growing areas. Weather forecasts indicate a high probability of above-average rainfall. The rains set in slowly in the country during the second dekad of June. Agricultural activities to prepare the soil for the next sowing are currently underway, providing day labor opportunities for poor and very poor households.

    The level of pastoral resources remains low during this lean season, which is marked by the early exhaustion of pasture in transhumance areas compared to the same period last year. Transhumance movements to southern areas and towards Guinea, Mali, and Senegal continue to be observed.

    Internal flows, supply, and demand for livestock are picking up, particularly in the assembly and collection market areas in anticipation of the Eid al-Adha celebrations scheduled for July, but they remain below average. Livestock prices still remain higher than for the same period in 2021 when they were already well above the five-year average. The demand for livestock feed is clearly increasing during this pastoral lean season from livestock farmers involved in the sale of milk to factories, small-scale livestock farmers, and urban livestock farmers who are obliged to resort entirely to locally produced or imported livestock feed. It remains average to above average compared to a normal year and could gradually increase to its peak in July with the optimal onset of the rainy season. From the first harvest until January 2023, there will be a gradual return of transhumance from the northern areas of the country to the central areas of the country. This period of new pasture growth, filling of watering holes in the respective livestock farmers' territories, and revitalization of pastoral activities will allow poor and very poor households in the transhumance corridor areas to benefit from a revival of economic activities related to the purchase/sale of livestock and derived products.

    Internal and external flows of food products remain steady, with imports arriving from North Africa (Algeria and Morocco) and countries on Mauritania's southern border. Staple food prices are still rising compared to last year and the five-year average. Price increases over last year are very large, especially for manufactured and imported products such as milk and vegetable oil (Figure 1).

    The increase in staple food prices recorded in the markets is expected to continue until the next harvest in October. If that is the case, the price of sorghum, the local staple grain in the Ould Yenge market, will remain above last year's levels and the five-year average throughout the lean season. At the end of October, a relative decrease is expected based on the increased availability of sorghum in the markets. From December 2023 onward, the projection foresees relative price stability, but at levels still higher than last year and the five-year average (Figure 2).

    Day labor opportunities in urban and suburban areas are mainly in the informal sector and small businesses, which are the main sources of income for poor households. Work opportunities are gradually being revitalized as rural workers return to agricultural production areas to prepare the soil for the next sowing in June and July.

    In order to help the vulnerable population cope with nutritional and food needs and the lean season, the Mauritanian government and its partners are putting in place a response mechanism that includes targeted national food assistance and cash distribution. This will take place during the peak lean season from June to September. The food ration for the free distribution includes wheat, local rice, oil, sugar, condensed milk, and dates, with a ration of 450 MRU per capita for each month for a period of four months. This operation will take the form of a single distribution covering one month's consumption to benefit more than 878,921 people and targeting the most vulnerable households (National Response Plan (NRP) 2022, March 2022).

    Poor households in port areas and container landing and reloading zones (Nouakchott and Nouadhibou) will benefit from regular day labor that will significantly improve their income due to increased trade while providing them with regular income to meet basic household food needs. In the mining zones, mineral extraction activities, small businesses, and the sale of livestock (mainly small ruminants) ensure a minimum income for poor households that can meet a significant portion of their food needs during the lean season. In rural areas, the onset of the first rains in June corresponds to a resurgence of agricultural and agropastoral activities in rainfed cultivation zones, in the low-lying river valley zones, and in agropastoral zones. The revitalization of agricultural and pastoral activities leads to an increase in day labor opportunities. 

    The decrease in food stocks, the decrease in purchasing power, and the atypical increase in staple food prices are leading to a decrease in income and reduced access to appropriate and sufficient food for poor and very poor households. These households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September 2022 despite the expected improvement in pastoral conditions due to the onset of the rainy season (from June to July). The livelihood zones most affected will be the rainfed and agropastoral zones, as well as those surrounding urban centers.

    Between October 2022 and January 2023, the promising projections for the agricultural growing season's harvests will see improved food consumption conditions and household livelihoods in the agropastoral, rainfed cultivation, and Senegal River Valley zones. The pastoral situation will be improved as fodder resources become available and watering holes fill up, leading to livestock being in improved physical condition and increased milk production, in turn resulting in improved livelihoods for pastoral households. However, with continued food inflation and low purchasing power, poor households in these zones are likely to face Stressed food insecurity (IPC Phase 2).

    Figures

    Figure 1

    SEASONAL CALENDAR FOR A TYPICAL YEAR

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Figure 1.

    Source: WFP, May 2022

    Figure 3

    Figure 2.

    Source: FEWS NET estimates from WFP data, June 2022

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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