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A favorable agropastoral season, and a positive outlook for the off-season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Mauritania
  • October 2020
A favorable agropastoral season, and a positive outlook for the off-season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Despite underperformance related to delays in preparing fields at the beginning of the season, and flood damage, favorable rain distribution, and good levels of rain collection should favor near-average agropastoral production and good off-season crops. Home-grown crops remain the primary source of food for poor households in the agropastoral and agricultural zones.

    • Economic slowdowns in the tourism and handicraft sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to negatively affect poor people in the informal sector in urban centers, as well as migration income, specifically for poor people who rely on remittances and rainfed crops in agropastoral areas. An additional factor is material losses due to Rift Valley fever and flooding. These areas remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity between October 2020 and May 2021.

    • Prices for basic food items are stable or seasonally dropping, and livestock prices are rising slightly as compared to last year. This results in favorable exchange terms for households in pastoral areas. However, average or above-average forage, and migration to neighboring countries (Senegal and Mali) will be needed, beginning in February, to counterbalance the risk of increased pressure on resources in southern areas, if the land borders remain closed.





    With a total of 7,677 cases of COVID-19, including 163 deaths, and 127 active cases as of October 25, Mauritania has seen decreasing rates of community spread since mid-July.   This pandemic continues to drive an economic slowdown, especially in the hotel and tourism sectors. It negatively affects household income in the informal sector, and migrant income in cities inside and outside Mauritania.

    In addition to floods that affected more than 1,691 families and caused significant damage to homes and road infrastructure, Mauritania has, since September 15, faced multiple outbreaks of Rift Valley fever, primarily in camels in five wilayas (Assaba, Brakna, Hodh El-Gharbi, Tagant, and Trarza). Households have limited their consumption of camel milk and meat due to fear of infection. Rift Valley fever is zoonotic, meaning that it is transmissible from animals to humans. It has already infected 44 people in nine provinces, and 16 of those people died.

    In an international environment marked by rising rates of COVID-19, trade slowdowns, and decreased world travel will continue to hinder the resumption of normal economic activity in Mauritania. This will continue to negatively affect job prospects in urban centers for seasonal migrants, and the income for those who work in tourism, hotels, restaurants, and the informal sector.

    Although Mauritania is likely to see average or above-average agricultural and forage production, the usual livestock migrations to Mali and Senegal will be required, in response to forage deficits. If land borders remain closed, these migrations outside the country may be limited, and may put pressure on resources in the southern host zones during the PASTORAL lean season between March and June.


    This agropastoral season has been marked by early or on-time rain, and good rain distribution between July and August. Decreased monsoon activity beginning in the third dekad of September, with pockets of rain deficit in many locations. Despite this situation, crops should continue to develop normally. Crop water needs are largely met. In October, low to moderate rainfall will continue in moughataas in the agropastoral and agricultural zone.  These will allow the various crops to finish their growing cycles. In the first dekad of October, 83 percent of rain measurement stations showed normal or above-average rainfall.

    Heavier rainfall in August and September caused flooding in southern and riverside agropastoral regions. These floods affected more than 1,691 families, primarily in urban centers with sanitation problems. Damage to homes, water infrastructure, and road infrastructure was more significant. As of September 30, the river's water level was near the alert level at multiple stations (Kaedi, Goghé, Rosso, Lexeiba).

    Irrigated crops, particularly rice, and particularly along the Senegal river in the wilayas of Trarza, Gorgol, and Brakna, are growing normally. Rainfed crops, particularly millet, sorghum, cowpeas, and watermelons, primarily in the wilayas of Hodh El Chargui, Guidimakha, Gorgol, Assaba, Brakna, and Hodh Gharbi are in the budding and flowering stage. Harvesting of early sorghum, maize, and watermelons has begun. Overall, despite underperformance related to delays in preparing fields at the beginning of the season, and flood damage, the production goal of 458,000 tons (approximately 15 percent above the five-year average) should be reached, with input support from the government, good rain distribution, and the good state of plant health, with the usual invasions of seed-eating birds and other pests.

    In terms of livestock, regular rains have promoted good pasture growth and good forage availability: average or above-average. Additionally, ponds and basins have good water levels and the river is in a flood stage. This will favor vegetable plantings between December and February, and off-season crops such as maize and irrigated rice in the hot season. These will be harvested in April and May. However, due to the large number of livestock and chronic pasture losses due to brush fires, there will not be enough forage to cover all needs. Areas in the south (Guidimakha, Gorgol, Hodh El Chargui) and along the river should, beginning in November, see livestock migrations coming from the north. However, average or above-average forage and migration to neighboring countries (Senegal and Mali) will be needed, beginning in February, to counterbalance the risk of increased pressure on resources in southern areas, if the land borders remain closed.

    Markets have average supplies of basic food products. Household access to new harvests, and food distributions to flood-affected families continue to reduce the demand placed on markets. In the markets in Sélibabi, Ould Yenge, Arr, and Lharaj, as well as markets in urban centers, prices for imported rice, sugar, and oil were stable in October as compared to the same period last year. However, prices for millet, sorghum, and maize decreased slightly due to lower demand related to households' access to the first harvests. The most recent money transfers to 186,293 families as part of the social safety net program occurred last month.

    Due to improved livestock condition, and relatively normal market operations, we see that in October, prices for small ruminants (average-sized goats and sheep) increased by between 11 and 35 percent at the Selibabi, Ould Yenge, and Abdel Bourgou markets. Unlike the same period last year, we see that market demand for livestock food fell, which caused a 25 percent drop in the price for livestock food at the Ould Yenge market, and a 6 percent drop in Abdel Bourgou, due to good availability of forage this year as compared to the pasture deficits seen in 2019.

    Between October and May, average rainy season harvests and production from the cold and hot off-seasons should ensure typical household food supplies in agropastoral and agricultural areas. Higher livestock prices and the seasonal drop in basic food product prices should promote good exchange terms for households in pastoral areas. However, loss of assets due to Rift Valley fever and flooding, below-average income for the poor in the informal sector in urban centers, and decreased income from migration will continue to put pressure on livelihoods, specifically for poor people in urban centers and agropastoral areas (MR07), and rainfed crop areas (MR09). These areas remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity during the entire period.


    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 1


    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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