Mauritania

Mauritania Food Security Update, April 2007

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This report covers the period from 3/13/2007 to 4/12/2007

The availability of coarse grain in Mauritania is still limited, despite an increase in imports from Mali. Good market supplies of imported grain (rice and wheat) and the start– up of the second phase of the Village– Level Food Security Reserves (SAVS) program have improved availability, but steadily increasing prices are limiting grain access for many farming and agropastoral households in livelihood zones 5, 6 and 7 (Figure 1). In many cases, food security is further compromised by water access problems, particularly in the southeastern parts of zones 6 and 5, the western part of zone 5 (Aftout) and pastoral areas of zones 4, 2 and 1.

Food security for pastoralists is normal for this time of year, but farmers and agropastoralists that rely mainly on crop production are coping with a harder– than– usual hunger season. The high levels of poverty among these populations are curtailing their access to commercially marketed grain, and they have had to adjust their means of accessing food. Certain heads of households are reporting having already begun skipping meals. So far, there are no visible signs of severe child malnutrition, although the nutritional surveys conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in December (see the FEWS NET Mauritania March monthly report) found the highest rates of (acute and chronic) malnutrition among these two groups, justifies the food and nutrition programs targeted at these groups.

In pastoral areas, seasonal migration has begun earlier than normal by camel herders in areas where pasture is scarce (zones 1, 2 and 4 and the northern part of zone 5). Cattle herders are pushing up the date of their departure southwards and into Mali, pressured by the arrival of migrating herds from the north.

Food prices (including grain and meat) are higher than last month and above the five– year average in rural areas, but have come down slightly in Nouakchott, thanks to its diverse supply sources (including rice and vegetables from Senegal, grain from Mali, fruits and vegetables from Morocco and vegetables, wheat and oil from Europe).

The SAVSs set up by the World Food Programme (WFP) in rural areas, which serve as the main source of household grain supplies in many areas, have begun to face restocking problems, and WFP has announced that, without additional resources, there is a risk of the program shutting down.

Livestock prices are increasing steadily as supplies tighten with the decrease in sales and as cattle and sheep herders begin their seasonal migration earlier than usual.