Article

Seasonal Coping Strategies in Central Mali: Five Villages During the ‘Soudure’

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  • Valuing Voices at CEKAN CONSULTING LLC
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Abstract

Rural Malians "cope' with low food and income levels during dry seasons by diversifying their income sources and trying to limit asset sales. "Soudure' refers to the hungry season between June, the start of the rains, and October, the start of the harvest, when there is little food left over from the harvest and energy is yet to be expended on work in the fields. However, this period begins earlier if stocks have been depleted in the dry season (February to June). This report tracks the use of "coping' strategies during the dry season in five Malian villages about 250km north of Bamako on the road to Nara, near the Mauritanian border. Dry season strategies need to be supported by development projects which use the surplus labour available during these months to improve, both financially and nutritionally, prospects for a successful year once the rains begin. Firstly, local labour could be employed to improve the infrastructure. Secondly, training programmes could be introduced, possibly at the district town, to teach basic adult literacy, the repair of well pumps and new cultivation and herding techniques. -from Author

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... Our objective is to project millet price variations four months into the future. We focus here on the four month projection because 1) knowing that rising food prices will persist or worsen over a period of several months can significantly improve the likely response of humanitarian agencies (Smith and Davies, 1995), 2) vegetation information can be estimated with a high degree of accuracy estimated four months ahead using observed humidity and rainfall (Funk and Brown, 2006), and 3) being able to identify high prices can help aid organizations target areas where food availability might or to use fixed effects. 13 be low. ...
... As producers draw down their stocks, supply on the market decreases, whereas consumer demand remains unchanged, leading to a gradual increase of millet prices during spring. During the "hungry season" in summer, many farmers become net millet buyers because their own stocks are depleted, further boosting prices ( Cekan, 1992). Presumably, it is during this period that international cereal imports and aid shipments enter the region, provided that prices surpass import parity. ...
... Our objective is to project millet price variations four months into the future. We focus here on the four month projection because 1) knowing that rising food prices will persist or worsen over a period of several months can significantly improve the likely response of humanitarian agencies (Buchanan Smith and Davies, 1995), 2) vegetation information can be estimated with a high degree of accuracy estimated four months ahead using observed humidity and rainfall ( Funk and Brown, 2006), and 3) being able to identify high prices can help aid organizations target areas where food availability might or to use fixed effects. 13 be low. ...
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... This statement should not come as a surprise. After all, the literature on coping strategies is full of examples where households tend to 'absorb' the impact of a shock by engaging in detrimental behaviour such as reducing the number of meals per days or withdrawing their children from school (Corbett, 1988;Cekan, 1992;Roncoli et al., 2001). Undoubtedly, these resilience strategies are affecting the wellbeing of these households, even if they allow them to survive the impact of the shock they were facing. ...
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... The analysis also showed that prices increased from January, when the price is in the range of P 2, to June when the price has reached P 4. The higher prices (P 4 and P 5 ) were associated with the months just prior to the harvest, July and August. The highest prices (P 6 –P 10 ) are not associated with any particular month, indicating that they occurred at all times during the year, but were most closely associated with the pre-harvest summer months, known locally as the 'hungry season' or 'Soudure' (Toulmin, 1986; Glantz, 1990; Cekan, 1992)). The sharp increase in prices around August was associated with declines in available supply, along with many other factors that influence prices, such as increased demands on time and money, influence of food aid, and the livestock market. ...
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