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Significantly below-average harvests in Senegal contribute to increasing food insecurity

  • Alert
  • Senegal
  • December 3, 2014
Significantly below-average harvests in Senegal contribute to increasing food insecurity

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    Poorly distributed and significantly below-average rainfall led to poor cropping conditions for much of central and northern Senegal. Large cereal and cash crop losses, significantly lower off-season cultivation activities (which rely on irrigation), and decreased incomes from livestock sales are expected. Beginning in March, Thiès, Louga, Matam and northern Tambacounda are expected to be classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In the absence of assistance, approximately 850,000 people across central and northern Senegal will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by May, meaning that they will face difficulty meeting basic survival needs. Well-targeted humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to prevent food consumption gaps in 2015.


    Preliminary results from the October CILSS joint harvest assessment, which included FEWS NET participation, indicate that 2014 cereal and cash crop production will be about 45 percent below the five-year average. This includes production losses for key staples (maize, millet and rice) and cash crops (groundnut and cotton). Senegalese government assistance during the cultivation season, in the form of improved seed varieties and other inputs, partially mitigated the effects of the poor rainfall. However, because of how large the rainfall deficits were (Figure 1), significant losses are still expected, particularly in Thiès, Louga, Matam and northern Tambacounda. Field observations and reports from partners are consistent with the CILSS assessment findings of hindered crop development throughout the season, low yield potential, and late harvests following the delayed start of the season. While the most significant impacts of the poor harvests are expected in 2015, the November Cadre Harmonisé analysis indicates there is a prolonged lean season for some households through November/December 2014 because of the delayed harvests.

    Although coastal areas are expected to intensify fishing activities to make up for cropping losses, inland households, who rely on agricultural wage and migration labor, will have limited income-earning opportunities. The poor rainfall this season has resulted in low water levels in rivers, streams, and seasonal lakes used for off-season cultivation. This will translate into below-average labor demand at the same time that the local labor supply in Senegal and from neighboring Mauritania will be high. The poor rainfall has also contributed to limited pasture regeneration this year. Livestock body conditions and, ultimately, livestock sale prices, will be negatively impacted between now and June.

    Due to low harvest yields, households in central and northern Senegal, particularly Thiès, Louga, Matam and northern Tambacounda, will deplete their stocks earlier in 2015 than normal.  Market purchases will become more important for them in meeting consumption needs. Though prices for imported staple foods (primarily rice) are expected to remain stable, prices for local staples are expected to be above seasonal averages due to increased national demand. Households will face difficulty meeting their needs due to the longer than normal purchase period and significantly below-average crop sales and seasonal incomes. By May, poor households, unable to meet their food needs, are expected to depend on unsustainable coping strategies.

    Currently, the government of Senegal is in the process of defining a response plan. Well-targeted humanitarian assistance is needed to assist the approximately 850,000 people likely to face food consumption gaps by May.

    Figures Figure 1. Seasonal Rainfall Estimate (RFE) with July and August dry spells indicated

    Figure 1

    Figure 1.

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    FEWS NET will publish an Alert to highlight a current or anticipated shock expected to drive a sharp deterioration in food security, such that a humanitarian food assistance response is imminently needed.

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