Latest GIEWS Country Briefs
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Several new country briefs for Africa south of the Sahara have recently been released by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS). The GIEWS country brief series provides an overview of the food security situation in prioritized countries, focusing on the current agricultural season, harvest prospects for staple food crops and livestock, estimates and forecasts of cereal production, and food price and food policy trends.

In Senegal, increased rainfall in July have led to improved crop prospects. However, as plantings were delayed due to previously dry conditions, rains will need to continue until later in the season in order to cover the entire growing cycle and ensure good production. The brief also reports that food security in Senegal has improved over the past year due to bumper harvests in late 2015. An estimated 37,500 were in Phase 3 (Crisis)-level food insecurity and above from October-December 2015, compared to over 1 million between June-August 2015. The increased harvest rose 72 percent above 2014 production and 56 above average levels, and can be attributed to a combination of favorable weather conditions and increased government investment in the agricultural sector.

Burkina Faso has also seen adequate rainfall during this growing season (April-August), leading to favorable early cropping prospects. Livestock prospects are also improved due to regenerating pastures. Coarse grain prices, including millet, sorghum, and maize, have experienced seasonal increases in recent months but remain generally similar to levels seen in August 2015. Despite improvements in cropping prospects, segments of the population are still in need of food assistance, mainly as a result of rainfall and cereal deficits in 2015. The Sahel and Northern regions are most impacted and face high food insecurity and malnutrition rates. An estimated 126,000 people are estimated to be in Phase 3 (Crisis)-level food insecurity and above.

In Niger, rainfall has also been adequate since the start of the growing season; as of early July, cumulative rainfall was above average in 60 percent of the country’s meteorological stations. This has allowed land preparation and planting to proceed on time, and both livestock and crop prospects are favorable. Cereal supplies from neighboring Nigeria and Benin, upon which Niger relies for its domestic food needs, have been steady, although cereal prices have experienced seasonal increases in recent months in most markets. In the Niamey market, millet prices are 14 percent above their July 2015 levels. Niger is also host to a large number of refugees from neighboring Mali and Nigeria, both of which are experiencing continued civil conflict. As a result of this influx of refugees, combined with several years of erratic rainfall and low crop production in Niger, several segments of the population still require both food and non-food aid to ensure their food security and restore their livelihoods. Over 657,000 people are estimated to be in Phase 3 (Crisis)-level food insecurity and above in Niger.

Lesotho has seen significantly reduced crop production in 2016, with total production approximately two-thirds below last year’s levels. The maize harvest was particularly hard hit in 2016, down 68 percent from 2015 levels; wheat production is forecast to decline by over 40 percent. The El Niño‑induced drought is the main contributing factor to the country’s lower production. Failed rains and higher than average temperatures led to delayed planting, significantly reduced yields, and widespread crop failure. Pasture and water availability for animals have also been impacted, damaging livestock production. As a result, food prices across the country continue to rise, and the number of food-insecure people has grown by 53 percent from last year. The government of Lesotho has implemented a subsidy for maize meal, beans, and pulses; this program will reduce food retail prices for consumers by 30 percent for a period of one year starting from June 1, 2016.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:ICRISAT/M. Winslow