- The food insecurity in Mauritania and parts of Senegal is ongoing after dryness during the last two years. In Mauritania the situation in some areas has even deteriorated, while it has somewhat improved in Senegal.
- In the wake of last year's drought, countless households throughout southern Mauritania and the Senegalese groundnut basin are up against severe food insecurity problems, concludes a joint mission organised by national and international food security networks.
The mission had made a rapid assessment of conditions in the areas of Mauritania and Senegal that are most vulnerable to food insecurity problems and found that the situation rather had become worse than better during the last months.
The mission had found "chronic food insecurity problems" in these areas aggravated by poor biophysical conditions and by visible erosion in the purchasing power of the local population.
- The food security status of the population groups hardest hit by this combination of factors has been downgraded to extremely food-insecure, the report concluded. This was characterised by "widespread, intractable food insecurity problems, soaring market prices for grain products, a scarcity of wild plant foods, a lack of surface water resources and a plunge in the level of the water table."
The hardest hit population groups in Mauritania were farmers and cattle herders in the central and western parts of the country and sheep and goat herders and farmers dependent on rainfed crops in Aftout and the Senegal River Valley.
The somewhat less severe food insecurity problems in Senegal's groundnut basin were closely related to the plunge in groundnut production and subsequent earnings from this cash crop, the mission found.
Despite their dwindling capital - small livestock animals, tangible assets, income from rural-urban migration, small-scale home-based work, loans in kind, etc. - residents of areas visited by the mission were surviving by "maximising the use of coping strategies, opting primarily for migration to large urban population centres."
- The current food situation has not yet reached the proportions of a full-fledged famine, the mission said. Up to now, this had been averted "by the juxtaposition of a series of factors, including the stepped-up use of coping strategies, the effective operation of local markets, distributions of free food aid, subsidised sales of wheat and animal feed and functioning food security information systems in the case of Mauritania."
The only way to ease food insecurity problems in the most seriously affected areas was now by "marshalling additional food aid to extend coverage periods and better meet corresponding needs," the mission recommended in the case of Mauritania.
For Senegal, the mission recommended furnishing farmers in the country's groundnut basin with high-quality seeds to prevent a further decline in groundnut production which, even with good climatic conditions, "may have something to do with the use of the mixed seeds available on area markets."
The increasingly poor coping ability of affected households had suggested the need to step up efforts to monitor supply and demand on local markets and to increase the number of available rapid intervention tools in the event of the failure of this year's rainy season crops.
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