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Food access is reduced due to insecurity and rising food prices

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Niger
  • February 2023
Food access is reduced due to insecurity and rising food prices

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  • Mensagens-chave
  • National Overview
  • Mensagens-chave
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity persists in pastoral, agropastoral, and agricultural areas of Tillabéry and Tahoua, where income opportunities are reduced, and most households have exhausted their stocks and lack access to food assistance due to ongoing terrorist attacks. In the southwestern part of the Maradi and the Diffa region, poor households are Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), as security on access routes allows food assistance distribution to local populations. 

    • Cereal harvests in 2022 are estimated at 5.8 million tons, nearly 66 percent more than in 2021 and about 10 percent more than the five-year average. This amount will improve food availability. In addition, the ongoing harvest of off-season crops provides adequate food access across the country and offers agricultural labor opportunities to poor households during February. However, current levels of household cereal stocks are low because of debt repayments to meet last year's large food needs.

    • In the pastoral area, fodder production is 19 percent higher than in 2021 and five percent lower than the five-year average. Fodder availability is more than 40 percent below feed needs, leading to an early depletion of pasture availability and an early movement of herds towards the southern agricultural area of the country in January 2023 to take advantage of the good availability of crop residues and livestock watering points. The physical conditions of livestock are still average, and income from the sale of animals, including small ruminants, enables poor households to buy larger-than-average quantities of food.

    • Markets are well supplied with basic foodstuffs, with local supplies dominating the flows for millet and cash crops. Maize and sorghum predominantly flow from neighboring countries (Benin, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso), while flow from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria are inconsistent due to the continued restrictions on cereal outflows and the effects of the change in Naira notes in Nigeria. Consumer prices are still on an upward trend compared to last year and the five-year average.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    The agricultural and pastoral situation: National cereal production (millet, sorghum, maize, fonio, and rice) is 5,794,258 tons, according to the preliminary crop assessment report and provisional results for the 2022 winter agricultural campaign published by the Department of Statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture. Production is almost 66 percent higher than in 2021 and about 10 percent higher than the five-year average (see Figure 1). Production is also good for cash crops (cowpea, groundnuts, tiger nut, sesame, and Bambara groundnut). Cowpea production was 68 and 19 percent higher than last year and the five-year average. However, cereal availability is 252,021 tons below human consumption needs in cereals (millet, sorghum, maize, fonio, rice, and wheat) due to sharp declines in rice and wheat production. For the country’s main agricultural areas, the forecast gross cereal balance sheet is in deficit in the Agadez, Diffa, Niamey, Tahoua, and Tillabéry regions and surplus in the Dosso, Maradi, and Zinder regions.

    Due to the good level of groundwater recharge and input support from the government and its partners, the agricultural campaign for irrigated crops is continuing normally with transplanting and maintenance work for irrigated rice and harvesting for vegetables (watermelons, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, among others). These agricultural activities offer tremendous opportunities for diversifying food consumption and access to income through the sale of market garden produce and agricultural labor.

    According to the summary note on the overall results of the evaluation of the 2022/2023 pastoral season by the Ministry of Livestock's Directorate for Monitoring Pastoral Resources, Food and Risk Management, at the pastoral level, the national fodder availability in 2022 will amount to 21,441,980 tons of dry matter, compared to 18,053,297 tons of dry matter in 2021, an increase of about 19 percent and a decrease of five percent compared to the five-year average (see Figure 2). However, the overall fodder balance shows a deficit of 12,431,807 tons of dry matter, representing 36.70 percent of the country's livestock fodder needs. The largest fodder deficits are recorded in the regions of Tillabéry (more than 50 percent deficit), Tahoua, Diffa, and Agadez (more than 40 percent deficit). Despite this fodder deficit, the physical conditions of livestock are average due to an increase in the use of crop residues, bush straw, and feed supplements to cover the herd's fodder needs--except in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, where the combined effects of fodder deficit and the limitation of herd mobility are reflected in a deterioration in livestock physical conditions.

    Markets and prices: Due to the availability of new crops, the supply of cereals to the markets is regular agricultural products are gradually increasing in most markets. Local producers are supplying 50-70 percent of millet and 80-100 percent of cowpeas, groundnuts, sesame, and Bambara groundnuts. Imports from Nigeria and Benin largely provide supplies of cereals such as sorghum and maize. However, these supplies are lower last year and the average due to declining outflows from Nigeria and the continued depreciation and changes of the Naira banknotes, which have severely disrupted food sales and purchases from these two countries. With average agricultural production, local demand for cereals is low. However, there is high institutional demand with large purchases to replenish depleted stocks following last year's acute food insecurity mitigation response.

    On the other hand, demand for livestock and cowpeas is below average due to low market attendance by exporters, especially from Nigeria, where the unfavorable Naira situation does not encourage the transfer of these commodities. As a result, food prices, especially millet, continue to rise at an average rate of 5- 10 percent compared to 2021, but within a range of 10-25 percent compared to the five-year average. In the Tillabéry and Tahoua markets, where insecurity has disrupted supply channels, the average price increase varies between 20-40 percent compared to the five-year average.

    Household livelihoods: Market gardening crops continue normally with the harvest and sale of watermelons, melons, cabbages, lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes at markets and other local points of sale. Currently, labor compensation at 1,500 and 2,000 CFA francs per person for crop maintenance is higher than the average of 1,000-1,500 CFA francs. The sale of clay bricks generates 75-100 CFA francs per unit, compared to an average of 25-50 CFA francs, and the sale of milk between 400-600 CFA francs per liter, compared to an average of 250-400 CFA francs. Other sources of income, such as small-scale trade, handicrafts, and the sale of straw and wood, continue normally and provide households with an income comparable to the average. This income allows households to maintain adequate access to food. However, income from livestock exports (to Nigeria) and migrant labor (in Nigeria and Libya) is below average due to the low Naira rate and continuing civil conflict limiting migration and livelihood activities, resulting in limited purchasing power of households dependent on these income sources. 

    Conflicts, insecurity and population displacement: The security situation continues to deteriorate with the presence and incursions of armed terrorist groups in the country who continue to perpetrate attacks on civilians and their property--according to data published by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), security incidents committed by terrorist groups peaked in 2022 with 571 cases recorded, compared to 328 cases in 2021, 432 cases in 2020, and 270 cases in 2019 (see Figure 3). These terrorist attacks lead to the massive and continuous displacement of affected people. According to the situation updated in December 2022 by the National IDP Data Collection Committee and validated by the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management, Niger had 376,809 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in December 2022, compared to 263,740 in December 2021, 298,458 in December 2020 and 191,902 IDPs in December 2019 (see Figure 4). The areas most affected by internal displacement are located in the regions of Tillabéry, with 153,455 IDPs, Diffa with 149,816 IDPs; and Tahoua, with 49,446 IDPs. In addition to the forced displacement of populations and the disruption of household livelihood activities, insecurity limits humanitarian access to food assistance distributions.

    Food assistance: The State and its partners continued to implement the national response plan to benefit populations in need based on the food situation assessment and 2022 planning. Food assistance of 40,000 CFA francs or 100 kg of millet, 10 liters of oil, and 5 kg of condiments was provided per household (7 people) monthly. This assistance covers 50 to 80 percent of the food needs of at least 50 percent of households in the Diffa and Maradi regions. Given the insecurity that makes most areas of the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions difficult to access, food assistance estimated at 100 kg of cereals per household per month reaches less than 15 percent of the population.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The good 2022/2023 season harvests have provided households with stocks for acceptable food consumption. However, with the decline in agricultural production in 2021, the food stocks of poor households are depleted, and as a result, they are turning to the markets for their food supplies. Market prices are very high, and local agricultural employment income is declining as the presence of IDPs reduces daily rates and increases the supply of agricultural labor relative to demand. As a result, food access is reduced for poor households. Still, with food assistance, 100 kg of cereals, and 5-10 kg of salt and legumes received per household monthly, poor households in the Diffa and Maradi regions remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). This is not the case in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, where recurrent security incidents prevent access to areas and food ration distributions are reaching less than 20 percent of poor households that continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity.


    The most likely scenario from February to September 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Outlook on seasonal rainfall forecasts: According to the first results published by the seasonal agro-climatic rainfall forecasting centers, notably NASA, NOAA, USGS, and the Climate Hazards Center, average to above-average rainfall is expected over the Sahel from June to September 2023.
    • The security situation: Attacks by IS Sahel and GSIM in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions are expected to continue at current levels until June 2023, with more reported security incidents and fewer overall deaths than in previous years. The terrorist activity could follow past seasonal trends, with attacks increasing until the middle of the 2023 rainy season, followed by a relative decrease due to growing constraints on movement caused by rainfall. Internal population displacement is likely to increase due to increased attacks.
    • Market gardening and flood-recession crops: Thanks to the above-average rainfall recorded in 2022, which favored a good filling of the country's main permanent and temporary waterways, and to the support of the State and its partners, the production of off-season crops is proceeding normally with good harvest prospects. However, the high prices of agricultural inputs, including fertilizer (above the five-year average), and difficulties in accessing production sites due to insecurity have led to a drop in the cultivated surface area compared to the 2018-2022 average. Expected market gardening production will continue to benefit from good water availability. However, difficulties in accessing certain production sites and low use of fertilizer will lead to below-average outcomes, especially for irrigated rice crops, which normally require 150 to 200 kg of fertilizer per hectare to produce an average of five to seven tons of paddy rice per hectare.   Thus, the fertilizer price being two to three times the average price could lead to a fertilizer input 50 to 75 percent below average and a yield of two to four tons per hectare.
    • Pastoral production, transhumance and livestock physical condition: The rainfall balance sheet has not been favorable in the pastoral zone, and fodder production has been below average for several consecutive years. Bushfires will exacerbate the scarcity of pasture from March 2023 onwards instead of May, aggravating the food shortage for animals in April-May-June 2023 and forcing livestock to descend early in January/February into the agricultural zone. The animals' physical condition will deteriorate further during the pastoral lean season until the end of June. However, from July onwards, with the arrival of useful rains, the pastoral situation could improve with the regrowth of natural vegetation. Rainfall would favor the normal movement of transhumant herders from the southern areas to their usual territories. Milk production could thus resume and strengthen the diet and income of herder households and improve children’s nutritional conditions from July to September 2023.
    • Institutional purchases: The replenishment of stocks by institutions and government structures is underway and will continue in above-average quantities until March 2023 due to increased humanitarian response needs. Restrictions on cereal exports are being enforced in some neighboring countries, including Burkina Faso and Mali, limiting the replenishment of stocks to an optimal level. The monetary policies in Nigeria, especially the change in Naira banknotes, have resulted in a drop in demand for cereal purchases on Nigerian markets, as cereal traders are rejecting the old Naira and CFA. At the same time, the volume of the new Naira in circulation is not yet sufficient, hindering Nigerian traders from making purchases and importing. In any case, this replenishment will put pressure on local markets and stocks and exacerbate the rise in prices above seasonal averages between February and September 2023.
    • Labor, migration and remittances: Labor employment opportunities consist of maintenance work on market gardening crops and the preparation of fields for rainfed crops. These employment opportunities are greater than the demand for seasonal jobs. This decline in demand stems from a reduction in the area planted for vegetable crops due to poor access to fertilizer and production sites. Reductions in the area planted will limit poor households incomes from labor. Local self-employment opportunities exist in the sale of straw and firewood, as they provide above-average income due to their high demand. In May-June through September, the agricultural activities of planting, plowing, and maintaining rainfed crops will be the main sources of seasonal agricultural employment for poor households. A likely normal start to the next farming season will result in a normal demand for labor for the various agricultural operations. The price of daily labor will remain at least average.
    • Migration to the usual destination countries, including Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire, is underway. After the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its barrier measures, and the insecurity that reduced the choice of destination, the health situation has improved, and migration has returned to its usual trends regarding the number of departures and the length of stay.
    • Cross-border flows of cereal products: Due to the restrictive export measures imposed, declines in cereal production and availability in source countries (Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali), local and international conflicts, and the disruption of the Nigerian Naira, cross-border flows are low compared to the average. Therefore, they will persist at below-normal trends for local cereals. 
    • Supply: The supply of dry cereals in rural and urban markets is sufficient to meet demand, even if it does not reach the average level due to the low carryover stock and cross-border flows. However, this supply will decline between February and September 2023 with the gradual collapse of producers' sales on the markets and the difficulties observed in the supply chain in connection with the export restrictions on foodstuffs imposed by certain governments in the sub-region. As a result, there is a risk that market supplies will be significantly reduced and even shortages in markets in areas affected by conflict and insecurity. 
    • Demand for foodstuffs: Due to good local agricultural production, local demand is broadly similar to the average. Still, it will gradually increase from February-March due to continued institutional purchases and the use of markets by poor and structurally deficient households until September 2023. The peak in demand will be earlier with the Ramadan period in March-April 2023 and longer with the lean season in July-September 2023. In addition, because of continuing conflicts and population displacements, which are increasing humanitarian needs, the quantities requested for food assistance are expected to rise above the five-year average.
    • Food prices: Prices are higher than the five-year average for all food products but much higher for imported commodities. Prices will remain on an above-average upward trend from February to September 2023 due to low carryover stocks. Price peaks will be observed in July-September 2023, and more so in markets located in conflict areas due to below-average supplies.
    • Livestock markets and prices: Livestock prices are generally stable compared to the five-year average. However, these prices will rise from March to June 2023 because of increased demand linked to religious events such as Ramadan in March-April and Tabaski in June. Export demand to Nigeria (the largest destination) will decline due to the depreciation of the Naira against the CFA. However, local demand will be sustained and keep prices average to above average level. The terms of trade for goat/millet are also generally beneficial to herders. They are estimated in December 2022 at 130 kg of millet for a goat that is one year older, compared to 121 kg in December 2021 and 131 kg on average. From July onwards, prices will increase to reach and even exceed the average level due to the demand for religious sacrifices for the Tabaski and the improvement in the animals’ physical condition, together with the availability of pastures that will be replenished following the onset of the rainy season.
    • Humanitarian response: The State and its partners have developed a National Response Plan (NRP) with a little over 267 billion CFA francs, a target of 2,044 million people from May to June and a target of 2,872 million people in June-September 2023. This plan will be jointly financed by the Government and humanitarian partners, including WFP. It will provide in-kind and cash food assistance sufficient to cover the food needs of food-insecure households, estimated at 2,100 Kcal per person per day. However, the frequency of food assistance, the quantities distributed, and the proportions of households will be significantly reduced in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, where civil insecurity will limit access to the areas. 
    • The nutritional situation: According to the Nutrition Directorate, admissions to acute malnutrition care centers in the country are down compared to 2021, with 191,079 cases admitted in December 2022, compared to 217,417 cases admitted in December 2021. This decrease could be explained by the improvement in food conditions of households and children despite the seasonal diseases affecting the health status of children and the presence of displaced persons together with their children in urban centers. This factor places an additional burden on health services and host communities. In addition, the risk of waterborne diseases between July and September 2023, the depletion of household food supplies due to the lean season, and the deteriorating security situation are among the factors likely to contribute further to the deterioration of nutritional status and high levels of admissions for malnutrition among children under five and breastfeeding women.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From February to May 2023, cereal and fodder stocks will be depleted, and the traders, as the sole source of supply, will charge very high prices compared to the five-year average. The purchasing power of poor households will be low, as income from off-season farming sites, rainfed field preparations, and migrant remittances will not suffice to meet food and non-food expenses. Animals will enter the lean season, but with demand sustained by the Ramadan and Tabaski holidays, the market value will be at least average, resulting in stable income from the sale of animals and livestock products. Attacks by armed groups will increase in the Tillabéry, Tahoua, Diffa, and Maradi regions and will continue to disrupt livelihood activities, making some areas inaccessible for food assistance distribution. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will prevail in the country. In the Diffa and Maradi regions, Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) will be maintained due to food assistance, including 100 kg of cereals (millet or sorghum) per household of 7 people per month. This assistance will cover 82 percent of the daily food needs (estimated at 2,100 Kcal per person per day) of more than 80 percent of poor and displaced households in these two regions. Poor households will, however, be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the Tillabéry and Tahoua regions, where food assistance will not be sufficient to cover the food needs of poor and displaced populations.

    From June to September 2023, in addition to the lack of household cereal stocks and peak food price levels, household livelihoods will be affected by flooding in most zones. As a result, insecurity will persist and disrupt livelihood activities, markets, and food assistance in the affected areas. However, access to the Diffa and Maradi regions is facilitated by security measures allowing the distribution of 100 kg of cereals, 10 kg of legumes, and 5 kg of condiments (salt, among others) per household monthly, so poor households will remain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in these two regions.  In contrast, civil insecurity will limit access to areas in Tillabéry and Tahoua regions where food distributions cannot reach more than 15 percent of poor households, most of which will continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity. In the pastoral zone, the onset of rains in July and the availability of pastoral resources will improve the food situation, resulting in the improved physical condition, milk production, and market value of animals. Food insecurity will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in July-September 2023.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Tabela 1
    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Excessive increase in the price of goods transported because of increased price of all petroleum products.

    This will lead to an additional increase in commodity prices and a further reduction in the purchasing power of poor households, the majority of whom will have limited access to food throughout the outlook period. High transport costs reduce the quantities purchased by the government to replenish strategic stocks, the low level of which will decrease the coverage of government food aid. As a result, poor households will receive less food assistance, although heavily dependent on it, and will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and be more numerous than expected.


    Socio-political unrest in the country and neighboring countries

    Strikes and other protest movements by civil society organizations are becoming increasingly frequent and can lead to long-term strikes that will involve a greater number of civil society structures and disturb social and political peace. The authorities will implement security measures (such as arresting union leaders, cutting off benefits, or deducting salaries for strike action, among others) which will hinder the movement of people and goods and contribute to the rise in the price of basic commodities, with the result that poor households will have less access to food. These security measures may lead to the closure of borders and disrupt the flow of foodstuffs from neighboring countries that supply markets and replenish stocks for food assistance. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will prevail in the country, with areas dependent on humanitarian assistance moving into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    Disruption of flows in the countries of the West African sub-region


    Civil unrest, new monetary policies in Nigeria, including the change in Naira banknotes, and measures to restrict the outflow of food products will hamper market supplies where there will be insufficient supply to meet rising consumer demand. As a result, prices will be higher than expected, and purchasing power will be reduced, as will access to food for consumption. Poor households in all areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    The geographical spread of conflict and insecurity

    There will be a tightening of security measures and an extension of the state of emergency, which has been in force since 2015 and is renewed every six months, an increase in population movements, a drop in foodstuff flows, and an excessive rise in consumer prices. Livelihood activities will be severely disrupted, and food assistance will decrease significantly. As a result, more significant proportions of areas and people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Figures Comparison of agricultural production from 2017 to 2022

    Figura 1


    Comparison of available fodder from 2017 to 2022.

    Figura 2


    Inter-annual situation of security incidents and casualties

    Figura 3


    Inter-annual situation of the movement of people

    Figura 4


    Seasonal calendar for typical year

    Figura 5


    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.

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