Food Security Outlook

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity expected in Diffa following persistent civil insecurity

June 2016 to January 2017

June - September 2016

Niger June 2016 Food Security Projections for June to September

October 2016 - January 2017

Niger June 2016 Food Security Projections for October to January

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The growing season is characterized by average to above-average rainfall and good planting rates in the country's main farming areas. With average to above-average food security conditions, acute food insecurity will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least January 2017.

  • However, feeding supplies for livestock are still poor in pastoral areas, including in the region of Agadez. There is nearly no pasture or water available. The persistent effects of a prolonged lean season, which began earlier than usual this year, will keep poor pastoral households in a situation of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through August 2016, after which the rainy season will improve pastoral conditions. 

  • Market supplies remain average to above average, except in the region of Diffa, which is suffering from the conflict with Boko Haram. Despite the gradual increase in demand during the lean season, staple food prices are below the five-year average and could remain at those levels through January 2017 thanks to sufficient food availability on the markets and inflows of cereals from Nigeria with the depreciation of the Nigerian Naira.

  • Due to persistent insecurity related to the conflict with Boko Haram, which continues to disrupt the main livelihoods and seasonal income in the region of Diffa, food access remains limited for a large number of resident and displaced households. The effects on the food security of households in the region indicate a situation of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stress (IPC Phase 2!), which will persist through the outlook period (June 2016-January 2017).

National Overview

Current situation

Agricultural and climate conditions: The country's current situation is characterized by a growing season that started at the same time or earlier than last year. The first rains fell in April/May 2016, making it possible to partially plant several of the country's farming areas. Rainfall patterns varied by region, with localized, short, dry spells in areas that had planted their first crops. According to monitoring data from the Multidisciplinary Working Group (GTP), the cumulative seasonal rainfall total at monitoring stations, estimated as of June 20, 2016, is 77 percent higher than in 2015 and 52 percent higher than the 30-year average. Ten-day satellite rainfall data (RFE) from April 1 to June 20 also show rainfall totals similar or above the 10-year average throughout most of the country (Figure 1).

Because of the rains, of the 12,266 farming villages monitored by the Department of Statistics, 8,380 villages, or 68 percent, had planted millet crops as of June 20, 2016, compared to 32 percent at the same time in 2015. Planting coverage rates varied from 63 percent in the region of Zinder to 93 percent in the region of Dosso, with rates of 70, 74, and 76 percent in the regions of Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillabéri, respectively. These planting rates are three times higher than those at the same time last year in the regions of Zinder, Maradi, and Tillabéri.

Dry spells affected the first plantings of crops but did not reach levels that resulted in crop failure. However, they did slow the growth of crops planted in April/May 2016, most of which should be in the height growth/heading stage, not the tillering/height growth stage in which they are currently.

Pastoral conditions: As is usually the case, the rainy season has not noticeably started in pastoral areas. The few rains in pastoral areas resulted in the localized germination of grasses, most of which are in the germination to emergence stages, providing pasture for small ruminants, according to analyses from the Department of Pastoral Development. Animal feed in pastoral areas generally consists of natural pasture (bush straw, herbaceous and woody perennial forage with good regrowth). Animals in pastoral areas are mostly watered from underground water sources (concrete wells, boreholes). A few surface water sources (permanent and semi-permanent ponds) in pastoral and agropastoral areas, formed by rainfall in the departments of Bermo (Dakoro) and Bankilaré (Téra), also serve as animal watering holes.

The slow start to the rainy season in pastoral areas has resulted in high concentrations of animals in farming and agropastoral areas, as animal feeding conditions are still below average in pastoral areas, where there is little to no pasture or water available. The pastoral lean season started early this year, and its prolongation is resulting in lower incomes for poor pastoral households due to the higher cost of maintaining livestock. 

Markets and prices: Markets are well stocked with staple foods thanks to favorable local and subregional conditions. Surplus crops from the 2015/2016 rainy season, combined with average to above-average crop production levels during the dry season thanks to favorable water and temperature conditions, resulted in above-average trade and kept local consumer demand average to below average. Markets are also functioning in line with normal trends thanks to normal cross-border trade flows, which are benefiting not only from high production levels in countries that supply Niger but also from the depreciation of the Nigerian Naira against the FCFA. However, in the region of Diffa, cross-border trade flows remain below average due to the civilian conflict with Boko Haram, which is limiting access to food for poor households in the area while increasing their dependence on humanitarian assistance.

Food prices are generally below the five-year average (Figure 2). The largest drops in millet prices were in Bakin Birji (30 percent), Diffa (20 percent), and Ingal (22 percent), and the largest drop in sorghum prices was in Zinder (22 percent). However, moderate increases were observed in April and May, when millet prices were up 16 percent in Maradi and 15 percent in Tillabéri due to the seasonal increase in demand.

On livestock markets, local demand remained low due to high livestock maintenance costs and low demand for exports to Nigeria, where incentives to buy animals for export fell with the Naira's depreciation against the FCFA. This situation resulted in prices generally falling below the five-year average, with bull prices in May down 18 percent in Balayera and 36 percent in Maradi. This drop in livestock prices prevented pastoral households from earning normal income levels and meeting all of their basic needs.

Sources of income: Sources of income such as sales of milk, migration, and the herding of livestock are down, in line with typical seasonal trends at the start of the growing season. However, sales of straw and wood are generating above-average income due to difficult pastoral conditions, while farm labor is generating average income levels. There are no noticeable changes in diet except in the region of Diffa, where sources of income are deteriorating due to the conflict with Boko Haram. The price of labor during this period, from FCFA 1,500 to 2,000 a day, is in line with the nationwide average. Poor households are therefore earning normal levels of income, allowing them to meet their basic needs and maintain their access to staple foods.

Security situation: The security situation has further deteriorated in the region of Diffa, with recent attacks in Bosso resulting in the displacement of at least 7,000 people. People have also been displaced from Nigeria to the region of Diffa since the start of the conflict. Currently there are 250,000 displaced persons whose food security and nutritional situations and livelihoods have deteriorated. This has also been the case for poor local households and host families of refugees and displaced persons. Most of these households' food needs are being met by humanitarian assistance, but their diet is less diverse. However, access to fields remains limited for growing maize and peppers, which are the main sources of income for households in the region of Diffa, the valleys of Lake Chad, and the areas surrounding Komadougou Yobe. Income from other sources, such as fishing and fish sales, is below average due to the decline or abandoning of these activities because of the current security crisis. In addition, the region of Tillabéri is hosting some 50,000 Malian refugees in the refugee camps in Ayorou, Ouallam, and Filingué.

Nutritional situation: The nutritional situation in the lean season in Niger is typically marked by a high global acute malnutrition rate of between 10 and 14 percent. The median rate calculated from SMART surveys in the last 10 consecutive years (SMART: 2007 to 2015) shows a serious national nutritional situation, with a rate of 13.3 percent.

Food security outcomes: Given generally favorable conditions, food security outcomes indicate Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity in June, with cases of Stress (IPC Phase 2) among poor pastoral households who have had to sell more animals than usual to meet their food needs due to the longer pastoral lean season. However, the country is still experiencing localized situations of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in the region of Diffa among poor local households and displaced persons.

Assumptions

The most likely food security scenario for the period from June 2016 through January 2017 described below was established based on the following underlying assumptions with respect to trends in nationwide conditions:

  • According to the results of the 3rd Seasonal Climate Forecast Forum (PRESASS) for the 2016 rainy season in the CILSS/ECOWAS zone, average to slightly above-average rainfall is very likely throughout the Sahel, including Niger, in June-August 2016 and in eastern Niger in July-September 2016 (Figure 3). The lean season began early in pastoral areas, and its longer duration will have a negative impact on the livelihoods of poor households in the country's pastoral areas in June-August. However, crop production levels will generally be average, with localized pockets of below-average production in marginal farming areas.
  • Hydrological forecasts from the 3rd Forum indicate average to above-average water levels in the middle Niger River basin, which will result in sufficient water availability for irrigated crops from October 2016 to January 2017. This situation announces average to above-average opportunities for market gardening and a good outlook for flood-recession crop production. Food and income sources related to market garden and flood-recession crops will be average. In rice-growing areas along the Niger River, dry season harvests will take place as usual in June-July 2016 and will be at least average.
  • Humanitarian assistance in pastoral areas, in the form of animal feed sales at moderate prices and free food distributions or food sales at moderate prices to poor households or victims of conflict, will continue from June 2016 through January 2017, to improve these households' access to food and keep acute food insecurity levels from becoming critical.
  • Demand for labor for rainfed crops will remain high with field maintenance work coinciding with the month of Ramadan, during which the supply of local farm labor is generally low. The cost of farm labor will remain average to above-average and will benefit poor households from June through December 2016. Local self-employment opportunities such as sales of straw and wood will get a boost from the early start to the lean season and will generate above-average income with the prolongation of the pastoral lean season.
  • With a normal onset of the rainy season, pasture regrowth is expected to begin in July. Feed availability will be average and sufficient for meeting livestock needs from August 2016 through January 2017. However, livestock feed conditions will also be critical around Lake Chad, which is hosting animals from Diffa, due to civil insecurity from Boko Haram and an atypical concentration of livestock in more secure areas, which could lead to overgrazing or the early depletion of pasture resources.
  • A normal start to the rainy season and the gradual regrowth of pasture will encourage transhumant pastoralists to return to their home bases as usual, improving animal body conditions and increasing the availability of milk, which is a source of food and income for households. Transhumant migration is expected to be normal in December 2016/January 2017, except in the region of Diffa, where the security situation will disrupt the movement of animals toward Nigeria.
  • Given good crop production levels in 2015/2016, average carryover stocks, and observed and expected commercial imports, local supplies will be sustained but will remain in line with average levels in July-September 2016, and domestic trade channels will remain normal. Cross-border trade flows will continue normally and will serve the markets in western Niger like Niamey, Dosso, and Tillabéri as usual. The depreciation of the Naira against the FCFA will continue to cause price differences favorable for transferring staple foods like millet and sorghum to markets in Niger. This will increase supplies on local markets, especially with large Nigerian traders selling off their stocks of cereals in June-July to purchase fertilizers, seeds, and labor for the 2016/2017 growing season. Supplies will continue to rise in October 2016-January 2017 with the availability of newly harvested crops.
  • Overall demand for cereals for human consumption will be typical until the next harvest in October 2016-January 2017 with an average level of food stocks among farmers, who have enjoyed two to three years of average to above-average harvests. However, it will gradually rise following the seasonal depletion of household food stocks, the advent of Ramadan in June-July, and the replenishing of stocks by returning transhumant pastoralists and migrants around June-July. Market demand will remain at normal levels. In areas affected by the conflict with Boko Haram and those hosting refugees and/or displaced persons (Diffa), households will become market-dependent earlier than usual and will buy above-average quantities of food on the markets.
  • Cereal prices will rise in line with seasonal trends starting in June-July-August following sustained demand but will remain below average due to above-average market supplies. From October 2016 through January 2017, with harvests generating supplies of most crops in excess of demand, prices will fall and in some cases will remain well below the seasonal average (Figure 4).
  • The pastoral situation will continue to deteriorate with a longer lean season, which will start in February/March rather than April/May as usual. Costs for maintaining animals will remain higher from June through August, generating additional expenses for pastoralists, who are net buyers of cereals on the markets. With Tabaski in September and end-of-the-year celebrations in December 2016/January 2017, demand for livestock will increase.
  • Livestock prices will remain below average in June-July due to continued low demand from export traders, particularly those from Nigeria. Because of this, terms of trade will generally remain unfavorable to pastoralists until July. However, beginning in August 2016, livestock prices will rise and will remain at or above the seasonal average with the end of the pastoral lean season, an improvement in animal body conditions, and a rise in demand for Tabaski celebrations.
  • The conflict with Boko Haram will persist, and residents and displaced persons in the region of Diffa will be unable to grow crops or generate income normally. They will therefore continue to face a serious deterioration in their livelihoods. The number of persons displaced by this conflict will continue to rise during the outlook period.
  • According to average seasonal trends, admissions to acute malnutrition treatment centers will be up from June through September 2016. However, current food security conditions suggest that the epidemiological situation will be calm, and the global acute malnutrition rate will be slightly below the national post-harvest median of 12.3 percent (SMART median: 2006, 2007, and 2010) in October-January. In areas affected by the conflict with Boko Haram, however, acute malnutrition rates could largely exceed the median from June 2016 through January 2017 due to the mass displacement of people of all ages facing food shortages and problems with health and sanitation.
Most likely food security outcomes

Favorable food conditions will persist and will result in favorable food security outcomes for most households in the farming and agropastoral areas of Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder, and southern Tillabéri. They will have enough resources to meet their food needs during the lean season. Food security conditions will continue to improve in October-November-December 2016 through January 2017 with increased food availability following the harvests, which will facilitate food access and consumption. Most households will be able to access enough food to meet their needs and will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity until at least January 2017.

Current difficult conditions will continue in pastoral areas in the regions of Tahoua, Tillabéri, and Maradi following a prolonged lean season, which started earlier than usual. Situations of Stress (IPC Phase 2) will continue through August 2016 with incomes falling below average levels and the allocation of additional resources for livestock maintenance limiting socioeconomic spending for poor households. However, given the above average rainfall forecast, the pastoral situation is expected to improve as pasture regrows and the main watering holes fill up in August/September. Animals will quickly regain their market value during this period, resulting in favorable terms of trade for pastoralists. A situation of Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity will therefore dominate in these areas from September 2016 through January 2017.

In the region of Diffa, the main sources of income and food, such as maize and pepper farming, fishing, sales of animals and animal products, local labor, and migration, will be disrupted by the conflict with Boko Haram and civil insecurity in Libya. This will come in addition to frequent displacements of households, most of whom will abandon their livelihoods as they flee. This will result in an atypical drop in household purchasing power, making food more difficult to access. Food security outcomes will remain generally unfavorable, with food consumption deficits in some remote villages less accessible to humanitarian workers. Situations of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stress (IPC Phase 2!), made possible only thanks to humanitarian assistance, will persist in these areas through at least January 2017.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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