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The conflict zones in Extrême Nord region are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to high staple food prices

  • Mise à jour sur la sécurité alimentaire
  • Cameroun
  • Août 2021
The conflict zones in Extrême Nord region are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to high staple food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • CURRENT SITUATION
  • UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2022
  • Key Messages
    • Food security outcomes remain seasonally precarious for most poor households in the Extrême Nord region. Atypical increases in staple food prices, coupled with declining incomes, are exacerbating the effects of the lean season, particularly for market-dependent households in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, the departments most affected by insurgent activity.

    • Food security outcomes are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with the harvest beginning in September in the Extrême Nord region. Prices are expected to remain above average levels throughout the lean season and into the first few months after the harvest, and drops in local production and incomes are forecasted, which will keep some poor households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • Despite a fifth consecutive year of below-average production, food security outcomes are improving in the Northwest and Southwest regions, with poor households consuming their own harvests and obtaining income from the sale of harvests and agricultural labor. Food security is expected to improve from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September. In October, as market dependence increases in the context of above-average staple food prices and low purchasing power, the majority of poor households are expected to fall into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).


    CURRENT SITUATION

    The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is stabilizing, with the daily number of positive cases declining since the peak in April. The total number of cumulative cases has also plateaued since June 2021. Vaccination coverage remains low, with only about 0.3 percent of people fully vaccinated. Measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, the use of masks, limited indoor gatherings, travel restrictions and mandatory testing at all points of entry, remain in place. These preventive measures limit the trade flow of newly harvested agricultural products and livestock to target markets in Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, and Gabon, since Cameroon's land borders remain closed due to COVID-19 with the exception of Ngueli Bridge (the point of entry into Chad) which was opened in June 2021.

    National agricultural production is estimated to be average due to a favorable growing season, cumulative rainfall that has allowed for normal crop growth and development, and input support from the government and partners to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Recent dry harvests have stabilized or lowered prices for locally produced staple foods such as maize, beans, potatoes, and taro. In the Northwest and Southwest regions, which have experienced their fifth consecutive year of below-average production due to the ongoing conflict, poor households continue to have acceptable access to preferred foods as they consume their own harvest and prices are stabilizing. The main-season rains began in mid-May in the Extrême Nord region, and crops are getting established in the fields despite a delay in sowing due to a 15-day dry spell in July. Agricultural activities remain average, with the exception of frequent insurgent activity in Mayo-Sava and Logone-et-Chari, and flooding in Mora and the villages of Manawatchi and Seradoumda, which have limited access to fields and displaced agricultural households. The current rainy season is favorable for pastoralism and water availability. However, COVID-19 and border closures caused by insecurity problems are hindering transhumance of livestock from Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) to Cameroon and vice versa, as well as migration from Chad to CAR via Cameroon.

    Prices for locally produced staple foods have stabilized or decreased in most parts of the country as new harvests hit the markets. In general, market demand for locally produced staple foods is declining, with households consuming their own harvests. However, prices of imported staple foods, such as rice, remain about 30 percent higher than average due to declining supply and rising demand, mainly because of insufficient domestic rice production, disruptions in local supply chains due to the ongoing conflict, and the negative impact of COVID-19 restrictions on major rice-producing countries.

    In the Extrême Nord region, sorghum and maize prices have risen significantly since July 2021 to above-average levels following the recent seasonal increase in demand from Nigeria. Despite the current border closures due to insecurity and COVID-19, informal trade with Nigeria and neighboring countries continues to flourish, although at below the average levels in pre-conflict years. In addition, brewing companies that can no longer obtain supplies from the main production areas in the conflict-affected Northwest and Southwest regions are increasing demand for supplies from the Extrême Nord region. According to key sources, attractive onion prices in 2019/2020 have caused some producers to reduce the area used to grow sorghum and maize in favor of onions. With the peak of the lean season, Mayo-Danay and Logone-et-Chari are facing significant deficits. In Mora, sorghum is currently selling at around 33 percent and 40–50 percent higher than in the same period in 2020 and 2018/2019 respectively, and 36 percent higher than the five-year average. Maize and other cereals are following the same trend.

    Meanwhile, seasonal onion prices in the main the Extrême Nord region markets have fallen compared to previous years, with current wholesale prices 40–50 percent lower than in 2018/2019. In addition, thanks to increased production in Tokombéré, Kolofata, and Mora, some conflict-affected populations have recovered their abandoned agricultural plots thanks to a reduction in armed attacks on the population in recent months. The current below-average price of onions, an important cash crop, has reduced the incomes of poor households, affecting their livelihoods.

    In the Extrême Nord region, incidents of violence against civilians have decreased since June. This is likely due to the dissolution of Boko Haram after the death of its leader, Abubakar Shekau, and the focus of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) on consolidating territory, weapons, and fighters officially under Boko Haram’s command. ISWAP could expand its operating territory to the departments of Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Sava, and Mayo-Tsanaga, where there are likely to be more clashes with the Cameroonian military. Intercommunity clashes between Mousgoum fishers and Arab Choa herders in the Logone-et-Chari department have intensified, resulting in 7,300 people being displaced in Cameroon and 11,000 people fleeing to Chad.

    In CAR, attacks on civilians by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) have decreased slightly in the prefectures of Nana-Mambéré, Ouham-Pendé, and Ouham from a peak in the second quarter of the year, coinciding with the departure of Russian security personnel following these offensives. However, civilian fatalities remain at high levels and are expected to remain so for the duration of the offensive.

    Heavy rains and flooding are currently worsening the food security and living conditions of refugees and displaced persons in the Extrême Nord region. Since July, heavy rains and river flooding have displaced several villages and destroyed shelters and crop fields in the departments of Mayo-Sava, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Danay. Some displaced people cannot meet their food and non-food needs. The deterioration of roads caused by the heavy rains is hindering humanitarian access to help the affected communities.


    UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

    The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET's most likely scenario for the Food Security Outlook in Cameroon from June 2021 to January 2022 remain unchanged, except for the following updated assumptions:

    • COVID-19 cases are expected to stabilize or decrease based on current trends, although the emergence of new variants is expected to increase the likelihood of a third wave of infections. With current COVID-19 vaccination coverage at approximately 0.3 percent, national vaccination efforts are only likely to significantly mitigate COVID-19 over the long term. Restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, the use of masks, and restrictions on gatherings, will remain largely the same.
    • Based on the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME)'s cumulative forecasts and observed rainfall trends, rainfall in the Extrême Nord region is likely to be below average until September, which will be conducive to harvests in most parts of the region.
    • Cereal prices in the Extrême Nord region are expected to remain above average throughout the lean season and for the first few months after harvest. Key sources expect production to increase by 2–7 percent in the coming season compared with 2019, but this slight rise is unlikely to meet growing demand from Nigeria and other neighboring countries.
    • Recent changes in ISWAP leadership should result in fewer casualties and attacks on civilians, and it is likely that incident numbers will remain at the current low levels even after the rainy season ends. Nevertheless, clashes between ISWAP and the Cameroonian army may increase, with further escalation in November and December 2021, after the end of the rainy season. Ethnic clashes in Logone-et-Chari are expected to continue at high levels until the end of the rainy season in November/December, when livestock farmers will move their cattle.
    • The onset of the rainy season in June saw the anticipated decrease in separatist conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions. However, it will likely begin to increase after the end of the rainy season in October, peaking in December 2021 and January 2022, when roads become more passable for non-state armed groups and government forces.
    • It is likely that the ongoing conflict in CAR will increase the number of refugees fleeing the western part of the country to the Est and Adamaoua regions of Cameroon, and the northern part of the country to Chad.

    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH JANUARY 2022

    Overall, most poor households will continue to consume their harvests and to generate income from the sale of them through January 2022. Consequently, they will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) until January 2022.

    In the Northwest and Southwest regions, the early depletion of food stocks, accompanied by an atypical increase in prices in a context of low agricultural incomes, is expected to plunge most poor households into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from October 2021 to January 2022.

    In September, most households in Logone-et-Chari, Mayo-Tsanaga, and Mayo-Sava are expected to benefit from improved food availability thanks to harvests and stable prices, increasing food security. However, due to higher-than-average prices, some households will not be able to meet their non-food needs. Households that remain dependent on the market, such as refugees and displaced persons, will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until January 2022.

    Flooding, which has begun earlier than expected in most areas of Extrême Nord, is expected to cause localized damage to crops and livestock, and displace populations in villages in departments such as Mayo-Danay and Logone-et-Chari. This will cause food security outcomes to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from November 2021 to January 2022.

    With above-average staple food prices and a lack of income opportunities, food security outcomes are expected to remain precarious for highly market-dependent refugees from CAR in the Mbéré, Kadey, and Lom-et-Djerem departments. While they may be able to minimally meet food needs, they cannot meet their other basic non-food needs without engaging in negative coping strategies.

    Cette mise à jour des perspectives sur la sécurité alimentaire présente une analyse des conditions actuelles d'insécurité alimentaire aiguë et de toute évolution de la dernière projection de FEWS NET concernant les résultats de l'insécurité alimentaire aiguë dans la géographie spécifiée au cours des six prochains mois. Pour en savoir plus sur le travail, cliquez ici.

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