Incorporating market behavior in early warning and food information systems: Case study from the semi-arid Zone in Sudan.

Ahmed S. Mustafa
Department of Geography/UKM, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel. : +603-829-2683, Fax: +603-829-3334,
E-mail: a5786@pkpel.cc.ukm.my

In Sudan different types of early warning and food information systems operate at different levels varying from local up to the national ones. In spite of the surge of interest by various institutions to handle such affairs, this paper argues that indicators employed are not sufficient to guarantee against food shortages at the local and household levels. Accordingly, for a more efficient way of identification of local-level vulnerability, this paper introduces the incorporation of market behaviour into early warning and food information systems. When crops fail, the smallholder farmers of the drought-prone region use the market as an alternative. They engage in different activities available at the local market to survive. By observing such behaviour, and then followed by a survey, it would be possible to identify earlier vulnerable localities and households. Market behaviour is a product of "composite indicators" resulting from the household’s coping mechanisms. As such, it has the advantages of being accurate, timely and cheap.