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Despite good market supply, poor households will have difficulty accessing sufficient food

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Mauritania
  • June 2023
Despite good market supply, poor households will have difficulty accessing sufficient food

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Projected Outlook through January 2024
  • Key Messages
    • The current agricultural lean season is marked by a deterioration in conditions of food access, negatively impacting the food consumption and the livelihoods of poor households in rural and peri-urban areas. High food prices and low purchasing power will cause most to face Stress (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, with some of the poorest in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the harvest in mid-September 2023. Between October and January, the arrival of the harvests and the good availability of animal products will enable household stocks to be replenished in agropastoral and rainfed areas and the Senegal River valley. However, the peri-urban areas of Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, and Zouérate, which depend on markets for their food and whose employment opportunities will remain limited, will continue to face Stress (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • Despite good market supplies, staple food prices remain high, limiting household access to food. Compared with average prices over the past five years, increases ranging from +35 percent for cowpea, +30 percent for sorghum, +15 percent for maize, and +13 percent for local rice have been observed. 

    • The strong demand for livestock for Tabaski at the end of June is marked by a massive export of sheep to Senegal. According to Senegalese officials, more than 42,000 head of Mauritanian livestock crossed the border to supply the Senegalese market. The resulting high demand and high cattle prices have improved the purchasing power of livestock farmers during this typical lean season. In the agropastoral zone, following the first rains, regeneration of pastures improved pastoral conditions and the body condition of small ruminants. More widespread rainfall from the end of July will improve the availability of pasture and water, as well as of milk and meat.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal Calendar for typical year in Mauritania

    Source: FEWS NET


    ZoneCurrent AnomaliesProjected Anomalies
    National
    • Grazing resources are below average at the end of June, particularly in the southern zone where a large proportion of transhumant livestock converge. These conditions are likely exacerbated by bushfires and overgrazing (figure 1).
    • Market inflation, marked by sharp price increases for staple foods, is limiting access to food for the poorest households. According to the Joint Market Monitoring Bulletin for Mauritania, in the first quarter of 2023, food prices rose by +46 percent for oil, +40 percent for sugar, +19 percent for wheat, +38 percent for milk powder, +72 percent for UHT milk, +40 percent for pasta, and +16 percent for imported rice, compared with the average for the same period over the last five years.  
    • Prices of the main commodities will continue to rise throughout the lean season. While agricultural employment opportunities for the counter-hot season irrigated crop harvests in the valley (south Trarza and south-west Brakna) will provide income for poor households, purchasing power will continue to deteriorate. With the end of the lean season in September and the arrival of the harvest, prices for local produce will fall. Imported food prices will also fall in line with international price trends but will remain higher than normal.
    • According to forecasts for the June-July period, groups of immature locust adults from the Western Sahara are likely to find their way to southern Mauritania, where summer rains in mid-July will encourage them to hatch and develop, increasing the risk of invasion.
    •  According to seasonal forecasts, average to above-average rainfall and average to excess runoff in the main rivers, particularly in the Senegal River valley, are expected between July and August. Localized flooding in production areas is likely to result in losses of crops, harvests, production goods and materials, infrastructure, and even loss of life in some localities.

    Projected Outlook through January 2024

    In almost all rural areas, household food stocks are at their lowest levels for the year, and poor households are increasingly dependence on markets to buy foodstuffs, relying on income from seasonal employment, artisanal mining, market trading activities, as well as income from migration and fishing. Markets are generally well supplied with imported products, but prices remain high. Compared with average prices over the last five years, there have been increases of +35 percent for cowpeas, +30 percent for sorghum, +15 percent for maize, and +13 percent for local rice. These price increases are outpacing typical seasonal income sources during the lean season, resulting in deteriorating purchasing power.

    The supply of livestock, which is generally satisfactory on the whole, is particularly high in rainfed and agro-pastoral zones, due to the concentration of herds in these areas. However, prices for small ruminants are above that of last year and above the five year average in almost all zones with the exception of Guidimakha, where the high concentration of transhumants has contributed to relatively stable prices for small ruminants. Goat to millet terms of trade are generally up on the same period in 2022 in all the willayas monitored, particularly in Gorgol, Hodh El Chargui, and Brakna, except in Guidimakha, where they are stable. The increase in livestock sales for the Tabaski feast in June, combined with an improvement in the terms of trade between livestock and cereals, provided an opportunity for livestock-raising households to replenish their food stocks for the lean season.

    Between July and September 2023, poor households in peri-urban, agropastoral, rainfed, and Senegal River Valley areas who continue to face depletion of their food stocks and deteriorating purchasing power will face Stress (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, with some households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, riverine flooding, particularly in the Senegal River valley, is likely to result in crop and harvest losses, exposing some affected households to Crisis phase food insecurity (IPC Phase 3). On the other hand, for livestock-raising households, the prospect of good rainfall will also ensure satisfactory availability of pastoral resources (pasture and water) and encourage better livestock production, particularly dairy production. The regeneration of pastoral resources will improve body condition and put upward pressure on livestock prices, helping to support above-average income for livestock-raising households. 

    Between October 2023 and January 2024, with the positive seasonal forecast, an average to above-average 2023/2024 crop year is expected. Good harvests will replenish household stocks in agropastoral and rainfed areas and the Senegal River valley and will significantly improve food consumption levels and protect the livelihoods of poor households, ensuring Minimal food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) during the period from October to January 2024. However, households in the peri-urban areas of Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, and Zouérate, who depend on markets for their food and whose employment opportunities will remain low, will remain in Stress (IPC Phase 2).

    Figure 1

    Vegetative health measured as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) compared to normal as of the end of June 2023
    Carte de pourcentage de la moyenne couverture végétale (NDVI) pour la période 21-30 juin 2023

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Mauritania Remote Monitoring Report June 2023: Despite good market supply, poor households will have difficulty accessing sufficient food, 2023.

    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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