Sahel and West Africa : Food Security Outlook Update - July 2012
Food Security Improvements in the Sahel
The growing season is progressing normally in the Sahel and West Africa and started early in many areas, with the exception of Mauritania and Senegal. In contrast to last year, maize crops from the first growing season in the southern reaches of the coastal states could be available by August, possibly reaching markets in the Sahel by September of this year.
Even with the lean season already underway, the food security situation in the Sahel is visibly improving due to ongoing assistance programs and the presence of milk and short-cycle fresh maize, tuber, groundnut, and other miscellaneous green crops on markets in the southern Sudanian zone as well as certain parts of the Sahelian zone.
Prices for locally-grown cereal are still far above seasonal averages (10 to 80 percent in the case of millet). Even with the stabilization of prices in June and assuming that the growing season progresses normally such high price levels will make it extremely difficult for very poor and poor households to maintain their food access until after the harvest in October/November.
The food security situation across the region is currently classified as IPC Phase 3: Crisis, particularly in agropastoral areas extending from Mauritania to Chad and receiving areas for refugees and IDPs. Ongoing assistance programs will need to be extended through September to offset the effects of high prices and the low food reserves of very poor and poor households. Even with the regional outlook for a good growing season, the political instability in Mali is a continuing source of concern with regard to the impact on cereal and rice production, market performance, humanitarian access, and food security, particularly in the northern part of the country.
The desert locust threat continues to loom over farming and pastoral areas, particularly in areas of northern Mali that are currently in the throes of a food crisis (IPC Phase 3), where the climate of insecurity is disrupting surveillance and control mechanisms. The immediate mobilization of adequate amounts of timely funding for detection, treatment, and prevention efforts is essential to prevent losses of crops and pastures.