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Persisting conflict and heightened tension ahead of the election drive high food assistance needs

  • Key Message Update
  • Nigeria
  • January 2023
Persisting conflict and heightened tension ahead of the election drive high food assistance needs

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  • Messages clé
  • Messages clé
    • For the first month of 2023, violence against civilians, banditry, kidnapping, and political violence associated with the upcoming election in February continue at elevated levels. The persisting conflict, compounded by poor macroeconomic conditions and historic flooding in 2022, is driving limited access to food and atypically high food assistance needs in the country, with widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected in northern Nigeria. 

    • Returned and resettled households remain highly vulnerable, and many reside in inaccessible and conflict-affected areas with restricted access to income-earning opportunities and food. In addition to the camp closures in Borno over the last two years, the government aims to repatriate the remaining Nigerian refugees living in neighboring countries. According to UNHCR, there are around 333,000 Nigerian refugees in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad as of December 2022 – about 188,000 in Niger, 125,000 in Cameroon, and 20,500 in Chad. On January 20, the Nigerian government, in collaboration with UNHCR and the government of Cameroon, repatriated 455 refugees from the Minawao camp in Cameroon to Banki in Bama LGA, Borno state. The repatriated refugees reportedly receive resettlement packages comprised of cash, food, and non-food items. The repatriation of refugees is likely to continue in the coming months.

    • Dry season cultivation is underway across the country, primarily along major river floodplains. While many agropastoral households are cultivating, engagement in agricultural activities is below average due to high input prices, restricted access to fertilizer, and low household purchasing power, coupled with reduced access to farmland in conflict-affected areas and among recently returned, resettled, or repatriated households. Thus, the April/May harvest prospect is anticipated to be below average and insufficient to fill food consumption gaps.

    • Most conflict-affected households in the northeast will likely see premature exhaustion of their crops, resulting in earlier than normal market reliance for food. Due to the ongoing conflict, livelihood and market activities remain disrupted as movement remains constrained, limiting food access. While the dry season harvest in April/May will slightly increase food access, it will not be sufficient to offset the food consumption deficits. More IDP camps are anticipated to close outside Maiduguri, and additional refugees from neighboring countries will likely be repatriated into the northeast in the coming months, increasing the labor supply. At the same time, demand remains low, driving poor wages amid the increasingly high reliance on limited resources. Consequently, with high food demand in markets, high food prices, limited access to income, and poor humanitarian access, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist through at least May 2023.​

    • According to an IOM assessment conducted in December, in select LGAs in Rivers and  Delta states, many households displaced by the 2022 flooding have started returning to their areas of origin. As of December, nearly all the displaced individuals in Delta had returned. Flood-affected households reported that food is among their most urgent needs. Nearly 50 percent of the affected population has received support since flooding occurred. While many flood-affected households still face some challenges accessing food, the receding flood water and recent return of many displaced households have led to increased fishing activities, improved access to land, and labor opportunities. Consequently, most flood-affected households are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The increase in livelihood activities coupled with the anticipated dry season harvest in April/May will facilitate increased access to income and food, and households will likely face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to May. 

    • In the northwest and northcentral regions, ongoing conflict, including non-state armed group attacks, banditry, kidnapping, and cattle rustling, continue in Benue, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Plateau, and Zamfara states, resulting in displacement, restricted mobility, disrupted livelihood activities, and civilian fatalities. There was a significant increase in the number of incidents and fatalities in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Particularly, non-state armed group attacks have increased, focusing mainly on government forces and infrastructure. The persisting levels of conflict in northwest and northcentral regions, coupled with the lack of humanitarian assistance, are resulting in limited access to income-earning opportunities, widespread food consumption gaps, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity.

    • Prices of most staple foods remain elevated across the country, driven by high demand, low supply, and high fuel prices, along with poor macroeconomic conditions. Annual inflation remains high though stable between November and December at 21 percent, likely attributable to a relative stabilization in food inflation. However, in December 2022, in Maiduguri and Kaura markets, millet prices were 15 to 20 percent higher than the same time last year and 75 to 100 percent higher than the five-year average. Due to atypically high market reliance soon after the main season harvest, demand remains high while supplies are lower than average across the two markets. Thus, prices will likely remain elevated through at least May 2023, particularly during Ramadan, when demand typically peaks. 

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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